Last year, the worldwide Make Poverty History campaign put the leaders of the rich G8 nations on the spot, and forced them to pledge to do more to help poorer nations. The final communique, while disappointing in many ways, at least promised something: an increase in aid spending (though far lower than claimed), better access to HIV drugs, and debt relief for the poorest nations, So, a year on, has the west lived up to those promises?
In a word, no. According to a report [PDF] from Action Aid, the rich countries have failed to deliver on their promises - betraying both their own citizens, and the world's poor. In Germany and the UK, foreign aid spending has actually fallen, once debt relief is excluded. A major fund to provide universal access to HIV treatments is in danger of failing, because donors simply haven't put their money where their mouth is. Economic "conditionalities" such as open markets and asset sales are still being attached to debt relief. And there has been absolutely no progress on the real solution to third-world poverty: opening first-world markets and ending first-world farm subsidies.
Basically, our governments have lied to us, spun us a line of bullshit in the hope that we'd go away, and then continued business as usual. They cannot be allowed to get away with this.
Meanwhile, Tony Blair is making excuses in The Independent, saying that "We could never make poverty history overnight". But the issue here isn't the failure to solve the problem overnight; it's the failure of his government and others to do what they had agreed to. But rather than admit that, it seems that Blair would rather tilt at strawmen...