Should Britain be Held Responsible for International Crises?

typhoon haiyan

Anna Berankova argues that, at a time in which the Western world is struggling financially, it might be questionable as to whether Britain should be responsible for international crises and for bearing the burden of international aid.

The most recent crisis such as in Syria and Philippines make some people wonder whether so much responsibility should be placed upon Britain and the Western world to provide aid. Lately, Britain’s national debt has reached over £1 trillion. With public spending at over £500 billion in 2013, there is not much money to spare.

Still, Britain is willing to send humanitarian aid abroad and provide financial support. The Syrian civil war is a controversial issue not just on the international scene but also in Parliament, which was deeply divided over potential intervention in August. Nevertheless, the UK has committed £500 million to help those affected by the conflict. This is the UK’s largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis. It will provide support including food, medical care and relief items for over a million people including those affected by the fighting in Syria and to refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

The recent crisis in Philippines is another example of how important Britain’s role is on the international stage. As Mr Cameron said: “We continue to help around the world – as we are today in the Philippines, where Typhoon Haiyan has brought such appalling devastation.” The UK government is providing more than £50m in humanitarian support for those in need there.

With so much money being sent abroad, one might question what exactly it is going towards and, more broadly, what the point of this aid is. Though the cost may be high, I believe Britain should share the responsibility for international crises and I believe there are two main reasons for that.

First, the UK is still one of the most powerful states in the world. It is not only because of its strong position in the world economy and global market but also thanks to its role on the world political scene. The UK is part of the Security Council, has veto power in the UN and still imposes a lot of influence especially on its former colonies and Commonwealth countries. Hence it should feel obliged to support other weaker states in crisis.

Second, Britain should be setting an example and should be promoting moral values and solidarity. The UK is the world’s second largest donor of foreign aid. If British humanitarian aid was cut, this would be unfair to force countries such as the US to foot the bill.

It is clear that Britain’s role in the world is irreplaceable. Nowadays, the world is so interconnected that each and every event can directly affect us. ‘No man is an island, entire of itself’. We should not be unconcerned with what is happening around us, especially looking at crises around the world from as privileged a perspective as ours.


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