Conservative manifesto – Bond reaction

Today, Tuesday 11 June, the Conservatives have released their 2024 manifesto.  The manifesto includes the following commitments on international development and civil society: 

  • “To ensure our world-class diplomacy and development expertise is brought together we will maintain the merger of the Foreign Office and former Department for International Development – and use this advantage to the maximum benefit in every post overseas.”
  • “The UK will remain one of the largest development donors in the world. We will return to spending 0.7% of GNI when fiscal circumstances allow. We will assess every penny of this money with a strict national interest test.”
  • “We will continue to ensure that aid and development supports our strategic objectives, with a focus on fragile states. We will work with our partners to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and tackle poverty, as set out in the International Development White Paper.”
  • “We will use our influence to ensure Multilateral Development Banks get more money to the countries who need it and work to deliver debt relief.”
  • “We will expand our international campaigns on girls’ education, women’s rights and reproductive health.”
  • “We will maintain the leadership on climate change we achieved at COP26 and our efforts to tackle global warming and biodiversity loss. 
  • “We will continue to ring-fence our commitment to International Climate Finance.”
    “We will work with Small Island Development States, including our Commonwealth friends in the Caribbean and the Pacific, to access finance for climate change adaptation and resilience.”
  • “We will support marginalised communities in the developing world and protect those persecuted for their ethnicity, political views, faith or sexuality. We will continue our campaigns against child marriage and FGM.”
  • “We will scale up high impact, cost effective global health interventions, including maternal nutrition and antimicrobial resistance, for benefit at home and overseas. We will continue our longstanding support for GAVI and the Global Fund – organisations that have saved millions of lives in the fight against disease.”
  • “We will be confident in spreading British values around the world, publishing a new Soft Power Strategy to support the role of our embassies and the British Council overseas. We will support the BBC World Service, expand the use of the English language worldwide and champion English learning around the globe.” 
  • “We will introduce further powers to ban face coverings, pyrotechnics and climbing on war memorials.”
  • “We will strengthen police powers to prevent protests or marches that pose a risk of serious disorder, by allowing police to take into account the cumulative impact of protests. We will ban protests outside schools to stop mobs from intimidating teachers and children.”    

In reaction to the manifesto, Gideon Rabinowitz, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Bond, the UK network for NGOs, said: 

We welcome the Conservative’s commitment to focusing on fragile states, delivering the SDGs, and tackling poverty.

We also welcome the commitment to restoring the UK aid budget to 0.7% of Gross National Income. However, concrete details and realistic timelines for returning to 0.7% are essential so these commitments are not just empty promises.

Any incoming government should commit to urgently increasing the UK aid budget and target places where it is most needed, with a key focus on poverty alleviation in lower-income countries.

We also welcome the commitment to ring-fence the UK’s International Climate Finance commitments, but this must be provided in the form of grants, not loans.

While we welcome the commitment to deliver debt relief, we would like to see the next UK government introduce urgent legislation to compel all creditors, including the private sector, to take part in debt relief processes.  

We are disappointed that the Conservatives want to provide the police with yet more powers against protesters, in recent years such laws have created a hostile environment for UK civil society, and this will only intensify that hostility.

We would like to see the next UK government appoint a permanent cabinet-level Minister for International Development, overseeing a fully resourced UK aid budget with a leadership role in promoting cross-government coherence on international development. We hope that, in time, this will move towards re-establishing an independent department that will lead the UK’s response to global development challenges.


Notes for editors

  • This quote was updated on Thursday 13 June 2024.
  • The Bond UK International Development Sector 2024 Manifesto: ‘A Global System for People and Planet’ is available here
  • Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 350 civil society organisations from across the UK, and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice. 
  • For further information or interviews please contact Jess Salter at [email protected] or call 07493200979.