Humanitarian (and Foreign) Aid and Protection of the International Environment

It is vital that the constitution acknowledges that Britain is committed to protecting the welfare of any and all human beings that are in need, whether they be in our own country, or elsewhere. The very idea that 'we' must look after only our own, above all others, is where it all started to go wrong in the first place. Charity does begin at home, but it shouldn't end there. A commitment to Humanitarian (or foreign) aid is key to ensuring this happens.

Our constitution should also acknowledge the role we have to play in protecting the earth's environment and resources. We are all responsible for the damage we cause. We must all play our part in finding better ways to reduce, and where possible, reverse it.

We must learn to look further than the end of our noses. We must all of us play our part as members of an international community.

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Here is the constitutional clause for this idea:

i) The United Kingdom shall actively promote the protection and maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life

ii) It shall be a goal of government policy to promote the utilisation of all natural resources in the country in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all its citizens

iii) To achieve sustainable development, the United Kingdom shall reduce with the aim of eliminating  unsustainable patterns of production and consumption

iv) The United Kingdom shall enact effective environmental legislation, which provides mechanisms for determining liability for pollution and other environmental damage, and compensation for victims of such

v) The United Kingdom shall promote sustainable development in other states through its trade and other foreign relations policies, and through development assistance

 

edited on Apr 16, 2015 by Tinahy Andriamasomanana

laure roux Apr 5, 2015

Facilitator comment:

Dear all please find below a link towards an idea discussing the same topic. in this refining phase we have to try and modify existing ideas, Combine them with others, take the comments into account (visible to the creator of the idea only who is the only on able to modify his idea)

So creators, lets refine! commentators comment on how you would like to this idea modified, keep voting up or down ideas...

https://constitutionuk.com/category/2849#/post/85187

Users tagged:

John Robertson Apr 11, 2015

I'd like a [constitution/ guide / laws] to bring together the people who vote for 0.7% of GDP to go on aid, for example to Bangladesh, and the people who vote for 0% tariffs on goods from Bangladesh, both groups doing it in the name of Bangladeshi development. They're often on different ends of the political spectrum and don't meet as far as I can tell! We know from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Savar_building_collapse [Rana Plaza] that the system we pay-for in taxes & cheap competition isn't working for Bangladeshis, who suffer over population and have nothing like a welfare state nor a lot of help or legal rights from their government.

If there was some way to say that conditions for low tariffs should have similar objectives to aid, that might be a start. This is important to people in places like central Leicester and Leeds that have very high levels of unemployment because of competition in the rag trade from countries like Bangladesh.

I'm based in the UK and concentrate on UK interests because nobody else will, but a fair deal should be fair on both sides.

laure roux Apr 12, 2015

"We have been unable to make contact with the community member who originally submitted this idea and there have been no edits to their submission so far in the refining phase. With only one week remaining this idea has now been taken under the stewardship of the project facilitators for this challenge (the original idea authors are invited to resume ownership of the idea at any point). We will now work to redraft the original submission in line with your comments and suggestions. We will make no substantive contributions to the actual idea content, but instead will seek to clarify and make more concise the original submission. Please do use the comments below to offer suggestions on specific wording and to guide us on which suggestions should take priority (by voting comments up/down)."

 

Tinahy Andriamasomanana Apr 12, 2015

Dear all, please find below a suggested initial working clause for the idea proposed above:

i) The United Kingdom shall actively promote the protection and maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life

ii) The United Kingdom shall ensure that all natural resources are utilised in a sustainable for the benefit of all citizens

iii) It shall be the duty of every citizen of the United Kingdom to adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that promote sustainable development 

iv) To achieve sustainable development, the United Kingdom shall reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies

v) The United Kingdom shall enact effective environmental legislation, regarding liability and compensation for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage

vi) The United Kingdom shall promote sustainable development in other states through a commitment to humanitarian (foreign) aid

Please do use the comments below to offer suggestions on specific wording and to guide us on which suggestions should take priority (by voting comments up/down). Please not that the original idea authors are invited to resume ownership of the idea at any point.

Claire Finn Apr 12, 2015

iii) It shall be the duty of every citizen of the United Kingdom to adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that promote sustainable development 

No. It's not my duty to adopt patterns of production or consumption that agree with the state's and certainly not "patterns of reproduction". Is this Maoist China? This contradicts in every way this proposal that passed to the refining stage:

https://constitutionuk.com/category/0?q=indiv...eas#/post/91313

Users tagged:

Tinahy Andriamasomanana Apr 12, 2015

Thank you for your contribution. Do you suggest that we remove this entirely? Or do you have a suggestion on how this could be framed?

Claire Finn Apr 12, 2015

I'd recommend removing it entirely. The constitution is not about dictating what citizens must do but about defining their rights and what the state must do and not do to protect those rights.

Tinahy Andriamasomanana Apr 12, 2015

Thank you for your suggestion, clause 3 has now been removed. Please feel free to provide further suggestions on how this provisional working clause can be refined.

View all replies (3)

John Robertson Apr 12, 2015

vi) The United Kingdom shall promote sustainable development in other states through a commitment to humanitarian (foreign) aid

I think we could get the same overseas development (and development at home) with conditional tariffs that say "do this or your exporters pay a tariff", so for that reason I'm against clause 6. I think it's in a law anyway, at the moment, so not a big deal either way. (Oddly enough there's no clause to prevent governments closing 30% of UK manufacturing with a bad policy, which has happened in the past, but I don't know how to draft a good clause to prevent it happening again)

Tinahy Andriamasomanana Apr 12, 2015

Thank you for your contribution. How would you suggest we include your proposal on conditional tariffs in the clause?

John Robertson Apr 12, 2015

vi) The United Kingdom shall promote sustainable development in other states through a commitment to conditional tariffs?

Scott Wilson Apr 12, 2015

There are two major problems with this.  

One is that under the Treaty of Lisbon (indeed the predecessors) the UK surrendered its powers to impose differential tariffs to the European Union.  Such a provision would put it in direct contravention of that, so would be a serious issue assuming no Brexit (or a renegotiation of a fundamental provision of the EU).

Secondly, is that beyond that (if the UK was no longer a member of the EU, it would be expected to rejoin the WTO in its own right, as it was a founding member of the GATT) it would also be in breach of UK commitments under the WTO and before that the GATT under the Generalized System of Preferences regarding treatment of Least Developed Countries.  Lower tariffs for LDCs are not conditional, and there is no other provision under WTO law to allow for conditional tariffs.

I understand the interest in promoting serious structural reform of governance in developing countries (and support this), but this measure would appear to be contrary to two major trade treaties.  I

John Robertson Apr 12, 2015

vi) The United Kingdom shall promote conditional tariffs to achieve sustainable development at home and in other trading areas.

I used "promote" instead of "commitment to" and acknowledged trade zones like the EU with tariffs set by the European Commission under whatever influences including the UK government. I acknowledged responsibility to the workforce at home.

Scott Wilson Apr 12, 2015

The EU is bound by the WTO Treaty, it too cannot create conditional tariffs of the kind you describe.  It might promote them to WTO Member States, but this starts to get into the area of whether the constitution should include the promotion of specific foreign policy measures by a supranational body.   I don't see there being any barriers to suggesting it, but not sure why the constitution should include it.

Tinahy Andriamasomanana Apr 12, 2015

Thank you both for your suggestions. Clause v) has been amended to this:


v) The United Kingdom shall promote sustainable development in other states through its trade and other foreign relations policies, and through development assistance

View all replies (4)

Tinahy Andriamasomanana Apr 12, 2015

Thank you for your suggestion, clause 6 has now been amended. Please feel free to provide further suggestions on how this provisional working clause can be refined.

Rob G Apr 12, 2015

i) The United Kingdom shall actively promote the protection and maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life

I’m 90% convinced by this; my one concern is that so often we discover several years down the line that actions that have been undertaken for the best of motives prove to have been counterproductive in some way.

ii) The United Kingdom shall ensure that all natural resources are utilised in a sustainable for the benefit of all citizens

all natural resources”, “all citizens– just of the United Kingdom in both cases? It would be a big ask to secure that all natural resources are used sustainably.

shall ensure– what happens if, in a fit of rage, I go down to a nearby forest and chop down half a dozen trees and burn the wood? The nation as a whole now appears to be in breach.

Additionally, that suggests that all natural resources are state-owned and controlled, whereas most land is privately-owned.

iii) It shall be the duty of every citizen of the United Kingdom to adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that promote sustainable development 

Unusually for me, I agree with clairefunn54!

iv) To achieve sustainable development, the United Kingdom shall reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies

I doubt it will ever be possible to eliminate these – maybereduce with the aim of eliminating”?

appropriate demographic policies” sounds far too extreme for me, I’m not sure I ever want to see the government promoting a “One Child” policy anywhere.

v) The United Kingdom shall enact effective environmental legislation, regarding liability and compensation for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage

I’d change “regarding liability…” to “which provides mechanisms for determining liability for pollution and other environmental damage, and compensation for victims of such.

Rob G Apr 12, 2015

vi) The United Kingdom shall promote sustainable development in other states through a commitment to humanitarian (foreign) aid

I think there’s a difference between “development aid” and “humanitarian aid” – the latter tends to be given in response to a crisis, the former is planned, and generally seeking to provide an infrastructure to (1) prevent and (2) respond better to crises. Taking up JohnRobertson’s point, perhaps change “through a commitment to humanitarian (foreign) aid” to “through its trade and other foreign relations policies, and through development assistance”?

Tinahy Andriamasomanana Apr 12, 2015

Thank you all for your valuable suggestions. Please find below the revised clauses:

i) The United Kingdom shall actively promote the protection and maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life


ii) The United Kingdom shall ensure that all natural resources in the country are utilised in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all its citizens ----> robg8 - How would you suggest we amend this clause? As you have correctly stated - this clause seems to incorrectly suggest that all natural resources are state owned and controlled. I have attempted to clarify the issue of 'all natural resources' and 'all citizens.'


iii) To achieve sustainable development, the United Kingdom shall reduce with the aim of eliminating  unsustainable patterns of production and consumption

iv) The United Kingdom shall enact effective environmental legislation, which provides mechanisms for determining liability for pollution and other environmental damage, and compensation for victims of such

v) The United Kingdom shall promote sustainable development in other states through its trade and other foreign relations policies, and through development assistance

 

Scott Wilson Apr 12, 2015

I think Clause iii) retains much the same problem as before, because it implies the state is obliged to take legislative measures to eliminate whatever is deemed unsustainable consumption.  This could imply measures from banning private car use, to banning meat consumption, to banning the exhausting of any mines (what's fundamentally wrong with exhausting a resource on a mine, if it is done with sensitivity to neighbouring habitats?).  The devil is that it leaves to a Supreme Court to define a term that is often used, but rarely is there agreement on what it means, except in specific legislation.

One concern I have is "sustainability" is presumed to be only environmental, not economic or social, so it is fine to bankrupt the state as long as it is environmentally sustainable, or fine to impoverish people, but be environmentally sustainable.  

In summary, I am not convinced that Clause iii) has a future. If it is all encompassing for all forms of "sustainability" then nobody will be able to start a business that isn't guaranteed to succeed. If it is just environmental, then tradeoffs can't be made between efficient use of resources, impacts on people and varied subjective assessments of what is "sustainable".  

Tinahy Andriamasomanana Apr 12, 2015

Thank you for your contribution. Would you suggest we remove clause 3 entirely? Or would you suggest we include economic and social sustainability in the clause? If yes, how would you amend the wording of this clause?

Scott Wilson Apr 12, 2015

I suggest removing it entirely, it is extremely difficult to foresee the consequences of it on other freedoms, and I believe there is a grave risk that it will result in serious injustices or erosion of more fundamental rights.

John Robertson Apr 12, 2015

v) The United Kingdom shall promote conditional tariff and other foreign relations policies to help UK citizens compete fairly with citizens of other countries and trade zones, taking export subsidies, social insurance costs, and exhange-rate manipulation into account, as well as the need to encourage social insurance in other countries.

I'm like a King John baron with a grievance here.
I want the right to weave a T shirt in the UK and have fair competition from people on lower wages in Bangladesh. Not unfair competition because they pay no taxes towards a welfare state, while their minimal education and health systems are associated with large families and so with depressed wages for the poor. That's a policy to help the rich in Bangladesh at the cost of people who use food banks in the UK. The rich in Bangladesh will be very rude in trade summits if this idea is put to them, walk out of meetings, fund lobby groups, lean on aid agencies to looby for them, blame everything on governments pre-1948, and go home in a Mercedez. I can find a reference to some WTO trade summit at which they did that.

I want my reps at those meetings to act unilaterally however much offence is caused.

A great consensus of lobbyists from the third world, aid agencies, and free traders from economics courses, take a different view. They don't mind if a Bangladeshi T shirt weavers pay no kind of social insurance costs, if their government pays export subsidies, or either government manipulates the exchange rate. To them. people who make things in the UK are a puzzling concept or people of a lower social class to be ignored for that reason.

Two positive things.
(1) I think it was the UK that wrangled zero tariff import duties to the EU from Bangladesh and something similar for bananas from the carribean, so there is some influence for UK decision-makers in the EU.
(2) Draft one mentioned the need for development in other countries, but not the rights of unemployed people in the UK; conditional tariffs would encourage development in other countries and promote fairer international trade, however much King John disagrees.

Rob G Apr 12, 2015

On ii), maybe something like

It shall be a goal of government policy to promote the utilisation of all natural resources in the country in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all its citizens.

Although I'm not sure how far it's legitimate for a constitution to direct government policy in this area, or any other...

Tinahy Andriamasomanana Apr 13, 2015

Thank you for your suggestion. Clause ii) has now been amended.

I would also invite you all to provide suggestions on how this initial working clause (found in the link bellow) can be amended, as we have less than a week left in the refining stage: https://constitutionuk.com/category/view#/post/85187

John Robertson Apr 13, 2015

Maybe a group of paragraphs in a constitution / guide book could be called "responsibilities between generations", as there are other borderline subjects proposed for that reason.

@robg8 I'm afraid I missed your comments on humanitarian aid when typing in my ideas.

I think most development aid belongs in a past era; I just don't get it. A government refuses to introduce a welare state, so it looks poor, and then our government says "never mind, you can have some of the money from ours"!

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