‘International development is an apolitical activity’

Andrew Mitchell, former U.K. secretary of state for international development. Photo by: U.K. Department for International Development / CC BY-NC-ND

What is Andrew Mitchell’s legacy as international development secretary: his focus on results, his determination to boost aid transparency or his passion to deliver value for money?

For Jonathan Glennie of the Guardian, it’s getting people to focus largely on the aid budget.

Many have hailed Mitchell’s work at the U.K. Department for International Development, which Glennie also acknowledged. He even said in an opinion piece for the Guardian: “[Mitchell] should be proud of some aspects of his legacy.”

But Glennie, who was also the author of “The Trouble with Aid: Why less could mean more for Africa,” said, “Mitchell has contributed to the misleading notion that international development is an apolitical activity.” 

“Rather than focus on the major issues  sustainable development and poverty reduction  we are exhorted to focus on aid, sold as the generosity of a kind-hearted nation,” he argued.

In fact, he pointed out, no one even asked about Justine Greening’s political leanings. “Her job is to manage an aid portfolio apolitically,” he noted.

Do you agree with Glennie? What do you think is Mitchell’s greatest achievement in his two-year tenure as U.K. aid chief? Cast your vote in our Facebook poll or leave a comment below.

Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

Join the Discussion