Letter: To prevent war, tackle poverty

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To prevent war, tackle poverty

Sir: Sir Michael Alexander is right to commend the Government for its commitment to creating a national consensus on defence and security policies (letter, 16 July). And Polly Toynbee (article, 14 July) is right to say that the defence review has been "a remarkable exercise in open government".

However, in this context of openness and fresh thinking, it is curious that so little attention has been paid to another government review: the International Development White Paper. Underdevelopment, weak political institutions, the abuse of human rights, population growth and the deterioration of the natural environment - all matters that are being addressed within the White Paper - have the most profound implications for global security.

Fifteen of the 20 poorest countries in the world have experienced significant violent conflict in the past 15 years. And the consequences are not contained within national borders. In 1995, the international community paid out $3bn on peace-keeping operations alone.

The simultaneity of the International Development White Paper and the Strategic Defence Review, not to mention the Government's review of arms export controls, provides an unrivalled opportunity for more coherent policy responses to the inter-related challenges of sustainable development, conflict prevention, the promotion of good governance and the achievement of common security.

DAVID MEPHAM

British Foreign Policy Programme

Saferworld

London WC1

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