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Untying the strings

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 16 December 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1492

This week Clare Short, secretary for international development, launched the UK government's second white paper on globalisation and poverty. Tessa Richards talked to her about her priorities for action

Clare Short is passionate that rich countries should accept their “moral obligation” to tackle poverty. She is also unshakeable in her belief that globalisation can be “managed” to help the one in five of the world's population who experience poverty at first hand. She counters accepted wisdom on globalisation with a wave of her hands.

“Most people think that globalisation inevitably and ineluctably leads to a growth in inequality but it isn't true. There is no consistent effect. We have evidence that the gap between the rich and poor is narrowing—look at China, for example. It all depends on getting the right combination of will, political action, and commitment.”

As far as a commitment to tackle poverty is concerned, Short believes that the United Kingdom has a good track record. It has successfully lobbied to get the United Nations' development targets for 2015 moved up the international agenda, and its recent cancellation of £1.6bn ($2.24bn) of debt repayment from …

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