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The latest news and events from the Welsh Centre for International Affairs. Update your profile to receive the e-news in Welsh. 

Head of Oxfam GB leads debate at WCIA

On 24 February, Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB, led a debate about international aid verses charity beginning at home.
 
Mark opened the discussion by saying that this issue is more relevant than ever. In the last 20 years, the world has taken 1 billion people out of poverty, but global inequality and wealth disparity is increasing.
 
Mark spoke about the importance of aid as something that in the long run can take people out of poverty but also as something that in the short term can actually keep people alive.
 
Mark continued to discuss how conflict and climate change are contributing to more people in the world being displaced from their homes and needing assistance, which has led to the creation of a new poor class of people in countries like Syria. He argued that in order for countries to become middle-income we must allow for trade and investment, which aid enables.  
 
Following Mark’s talk, the floor was opened up to audience members for a question and answer session, where a range of other ideas were introduced into the debate. These included matters surrounding international and domestic aid budgets; aid received by middle-income countries; the absence of a devolved aid budget in Wales; the role of Oxfam in the recent humanitarian crisis and the role of the EU.
 
Audience member Maria spoke to us after the event and said: “The debate reinforced my view that providing international aid is extremely important and that sometimes the human element can be left out of the debate.”

 Read a full write up of the event.



 

Round Table discussion: Africa 2050

Ahead of the debate, Hub Cymru Africa hosted a roundtable of expert speakers including Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Oxfam, Ambreena Manji, Professor of Land Law and Development at Cardiff University and Martha Musonza Holman, Founder of Love Zimabwe to discuss the future of Africa and whether they believe Oxfam will still be working in Africa in 2050.
 
Mark Goldring began the discussion drawing on his experiences visiting Ethiopia the previous week, which is suffering from a severe drought.
 
Mark discussed the progress that has been made in African countries and of African leaders to respond to their people, but Africa has still not had an equal share in the progress and development of the global community.
 
Mark outlined what he considers the four main issues that are significantly hindering the development of African nations as climate change; conflict; wealth inequality and illicit money. Mark’s answer as to whether Oxfam will still be in Africa in 2050 is yes, but he hopes in 5-10 countries rather than 30 countries like they are now.
 
Ambreena drew upon her expertise in land law and development and spoke about land conflict as one of the biggest sources of current and future problems in African countries. She discussed how we can use land law reform to promote social, political and economic change and how the reform of land law is a pre requisite for poverty reduction and economic growth.
 
Ambreena contended that without confronting the complex issues that lead to the redistribution of land and growing inequality, charities like Oxfam will continue to work in African countries. By promoting a clear and legal framework we can start to solve these problems.
 
Martha concluded the dialogue of our expert panel by reflecting on her recent visit to Zimbabwe, which has also experienced severe drought. Martha also spoke about the progress within Africa and the turning point of the African people recognising corrupt leaders.
 
Martha highlighted a range of problems that still face the African continent and the remedies for these problems including the mobilisation of diaspora communities and the engagement of young people. Martha’s concluding remarks suggested that Africa will only look positive in 2050 if international organisations and citizens work together.
 
Fadhili Maghiya from Hub Cymru Africa who chaired the roundtable then opened up the discussion to others. Mark was asked what specifically Oxfam is doing in Africa and whether it could or should do more. Mark spoke about the fact that Oxfam is, in reality, a small player and that the real resources come from governments and private investment. Oxfam is doing a lot but it does not have the power and resources to do everything; it does a good job of keeping issues in the public eye.
 
Read a full write up of the event. 

Remembering for Peace exhibition

The Remembering for Peace exhibition has been touring Wales since 16 January. Ffion, Community Development Coordinator for South Wales said: “There has been a great response and there have been many interesting comments in the visitors’ handbook.
 
“The launch was very successful - 30 people attended work shops for transcription, and at the launch itself, there were around 40 people including the great Nephew of Trevor Lewis, one of the soldiers in the exhibition.” Wales for Peace have received letters from the public, which have now been added to ‘Soldiers Stories’, and the ‘Wales at War’ app.
 
As part of the exhibition, Wales for Peace have launched a call to gather together the ‘hidden histories’ of over 4,500 Belgian Refugees who came to Wales in the First World War. Christophe Declercq, one of the UK’s leading experts on the topic from UCL gave a public lecture at the University of Aberystwyth which explored the context of the Belgian refugee crisis, particularly within Wales; the contribution of Belgian refugees to Wales and the reasons as to why Belgian refugee memories in Wales are richer than in other parts of the UK. Christophe also spoke about the ways in which we can reflect on the welcoming of Belgian refugees 100 years ago to the Syrian refugee crisis today. What can we learn from the past that can help us contribute to peace today?
 
The lecture is part of the Wales for Peace project, which explores the question: In the 100 years since the First World War, how has Wales contributed to the search for peace? The project examines the impacts of war that have led to the creation of peace movements in Wales today. In his lecture, Christophe added: “it is very important to reflect on the way in which refugees of the past have helped to shape Wales and Wales’ pursuit of peace.”
 
If you know a Hidden History about a Belgian Refugee in Wales or would be interested in helping Wales for Peace to research hidden histories visit the Hidden Histories resources page and volunteering page or contact walesforpeace@wcia.org.uk or 02910 821051

Reminder of upcoming events 

We hope that some of you have been able to join us for some of the exciting events that we have hosted so far this year.
Here is a reminder of our upcoming events.
 
On 22 March, Baroness Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth will be at the Temple of Peace to discuss her approach to Commonwealth, and to explore the role of the Commonwealth today from the perspective of Wales and other Commonwealth members from around the world.
 
On 13 April, as part of the lecture series organised by Cardiff University’s Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK, Professor Grace Davie from the University of Exeter will speak about how the Muslim community is affected by an increasingly secular Britain. Islam features heavily in public debate and with continued unrest in the Middle East and the ongoing refugee crisis, Professor Davie will discuss new approaches in fields of study related to religion and how this knowledge can be used to create a more constructive public debate about religion’s role within society.  
 
Then on April 28 Thomas Williams, Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs from the US Embassy will speak to the WCIA audience about the impact the conflict in the Middle East has on the wider international community. He will discuss US foreign policy in relation to Syria, ISIS and the wider Middle East. Thomas Williams has extensive experience in the Middle East, including serving as Deputy Chief of Mission in Islamabad, Riyadh and Kuwait.
 
To find out more about our upcoming events please check our events calendar.

Fairtrade Fortnight

Fair Trade Wales celebrated Fairtrade fortnight from 29 February-13 March to raise awareness for the problems facing farmers and workers in developing countries who work hard every day to grow the food that we eat, but still don’t earn enough to feed their own families. 
 
Martin Luther King once said: “Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world”. So Fairtrade fortnight this year focussed on the ‘Big Fairtrade Breakfast’ to encourage people across Wales to eat a Fair Trade breakfast and become part of the solution to the problems that face so many farmers and workers.
 
According to the Fair Trade fortnight publicity in eating a Fair Trade breakfast you ensure that farmers get a fair price for the produce they grow whether this be coffee from Kenya; bananas from Colombia, tea from India; sugar from Malawi; or oranges from Brazil.
 
Aileen from Fair Trade Wales spoke to us about some of the exciting events that took place during Fairtrade Fortnight: “People all across Wales have held Big Fair Trade breakfasts in aid of Fairtrade Fortnight. We were delighted to welcome Nimrod Wambette, a Fair trade coffee farmer from Uganda, to Wales with whom we have visited cafés, schools, universities, churches etc. to talk about the difference that buying Fair Trade makes to farmers lives”.
 
It is hoped that those who took part in the Fairtrade Fortnight challenge continue to purchase Fair Trade produce, if they didn’t before. There are currently over 1.5 million workers in the Fair Trade system but many more are still struggling against unfair trading prices.
 
Being part of Fair Trade means farmers get a fairer price for their products, and a little extra to invest in developing their farms. For many, this means they can grow crops to sell as well as food for themselves.
 
Fair Trade Twitter, Facebook and Website

Creating a Fair Wales Photography Competition

On 5 May Welsh Assembly elections will be held leading to the formation of a new Welsh Government. Oxfam Cymru are inviting 11-18 year olds from across Wales to make the most of this opportunity and take a photo and write a caption of no more than 100 words to share their opinion about what they want for Wales.
 
The theme of the competition is ‘Creating a fair Wales’ with three sub categories; fair and decent work for people in Wales; a fair climate deal for Wales and the world; and a welcoming Wales for people seeking sanctuary. Find out more

 

Ask a question to UN Secretary General Candidates 

The UN Association UK are proving a unique opportunity to interact directly with UN Secretary General candidates by submitting a question to them online which then, if selected by an NGO committee, will be put to candidates during public meetings in the Assembly from 12 to 14 April. According to UNA UK, this is a major step forward from the selection process that used to take place behind closed doors. Questions must be submitted by 20 March. Find out more.
Our events

Remembering for Peace Exhibition, 16 January-16 April, various locations across Wales. Find out more.

 
Public Seminar Series: ‘Contextualising Islam in 21st Century Britain’ with Professor Grace Davie, 13 April, Temple of Peace, Cardiff, Partnership event with the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK, Cardiff University. Find out more and register.
 
US foreign policy on Syria, ISIS and the Middle East, Talk from Thomas Williams, Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy, 28 April, Temple of Peace. Save the date.


Other dates for your diary

The Sustain Wales Summit, 21 April, Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Find out more and register.
 
International Health Event, 11 May, Wales for Africa Health Links and Hub Cymru Africa. Save the date.


Blog

Read the latest blogs from our contributors.

Event resources

Good COP? Bad COP? Have your say on climate change, 27 January, Stop Climate Chaos Cymru partnership event. Photos, post event story/report and other past climate change event resources

Wales at COP21: The Voice of our Young People / Cymru yn y COP21: Llais ein pobl ifanc. Video
 
‘Charity begins at home?’ Talk from the Chief Executive of Oxfam GB, Mark Goldring, 24 February. Post event report, photos. Video coming soon

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