We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Poverty and Terrorism

– in the House of Lords at 5:22 pm on 27th February 2002.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Dahrendorf Lord Dahrendorf Liberal Democrat 5:22 pm, 27th February 2002

rose to call attention to the links between third world poverty and terrorism; and to move for Papers.

My Lords, as I rise to,

"call attention to the links between third world poverty and terrorism",

I hasten to add the reservation:

"Poverty does not cause terrorism and conflict, but it increases the risk of it".

Those are actually the words of the Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, and I agree with her in that, as in her conclusion that what is needed is "more aid, better spent". But why does poverty increase the risk of terrorism? And how can aid be spent better?

On the extent of third world poverty in this age of globalisation there can be no doubt. Former President Clinton has, in his Dimbleby Lecture and elsewhere, cited the figures, which bear repeating:

"One billion people live on less than one dollar a day; one billion people go to bed hungry every night; a quarter of the world's people never get a clean glass of water; every minute one woman dies in childbirth".

This is, as Mr Clinton argued, the flip side of globalisation. It creates a lot of angry people. Some of them remain just frustrated and apathetic. Some want to "destroy the civilised world". However—this is Mr Clinton again—

"a lot of people are angry because they want to be a part of tomorrow, but they cannot find the open door".

That in fact is my theme, and helping them find the open door is our task.

Perhaps I may offer one further quotation—not from a politician but from the thoughtful and compassionate analyst, Michael Ignatieff—which identifies the link referred to in my Motion in words that I could not have chosen better. Mr Ignatieff said:

"One of the unacknowledged underlying causes of the September 11 events was the coincidence of globalised prosperity in the imperial world with disintegration in the states that achieved independence from the colonial empires of Europe in the 1960s. The collapse of state institutions has been exacerbated by urbanisation, by the relentless growth of lawless shantytowns that collect populations of unemployed or underemployed men who can see the promise of globalised prosperity on the TV in every café, but cannot enjoy it themselves. In states like Pakistan, where the state no longer provides basic services to the poorest people, Islamic parties, funded from Saudi Arabia, step into the breach, providing clinics, schools, and orphanages where the poor receive protection at the price of indoctrination in hatred".

We do not have to go to the third world to find the Ignatieff syndrome, if I may call it that. The so-called "shoe bomber" from Bromley, Richard Reid, illustrates the path from rootlessness to petty and not-so-petty crime, to prison, and from there to the hands of caring Muslim mullahs, on to the community of the faithful and further to militancy, ending in training for terrorism in Pakistan.

In the third world, the syndrome occurs in a systematic way. There are several kinds of terrorism, and what I have to say does not apply to all. One major strand, however, is related to the frustrations of the pathways out of poverty. It is not the truly destitute who organise themselves or turn violent, nor is it the traditional poor; it is those who have left the traditional cycle of poverty—for the most part of village life—but have failed to find a place in the new scheme of things. They have smelled a life which has inspired their dreams—often through American symbols, such as Hollywood, Coca-Cola and the rest, which is why America looms so large in their minds—but they cannot find a place in it. The noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, who would have liked to have been here for this debate, sent me a recent statement of his in which he talked about,

"the very real prospect of a fundamental 'dislocation' between the world of the imagination created by the moving image, and the everyday lives of people around the globe".

It is not just cultural dislocation that I am talking about; many of the people in question end up in favelas and shantytowns within sight of the glittering city lights and far away from the homely misery of their origins. They are lost between roots that are cut and fruits that will remain distant hopes. This is where that cocktail of envy and hatred is brewed, which makes terrorism so vicious.

Nor is that just a failing of individuals. The seriousness of the predicament that I am describing lies in the fact that it is an almost inevitable stage on the path from poverty to prosperity. Modernisation initially means uprooting. Remember The Bleak Age of industrialising Britain—described so vividly by social historians and novelists—Gin Lane, the workhouses and the acts of Luddite destruction and of burning down prisons? For whatever reason, there is no straight path from poverty to prosperity. Things get worse before they get better. The process called "development" begins with a valley of tears, and many lose patience during the trek. They seek a shortcut to a better life by what the authors of The Bleak Age, the Hammonds, called "the remedy of the New World"—that is, by migration—or they express their frustration by committing crime, including terrorism. Many do both in a "runaway world".

That is the background and central thesis of my Motion. But of course for us, in Parliament, the key question is: what can we do to mitigate the process at which I have hinted? Let me leave no doubt. So far as terrorism is concerned, it must be fought. Nothing offered here by way of explanation should be misread as an excuse. I agree wholeheartedly with former President Clinton that,

"there is no excuse ever for the deliberate killing of innocent civilians for political, religious or economic reasons".

But once this battle has been won, the major task remains. As Mr Chris Patten put it in a recent speech, after the "smart bombs" we need a "smart development policy".

In order to indicate what that might mean, I want to make five points which are also five questions to the Government. The first is that a smart development policy is not only about money. To be sure, such a policy is bound to be costly, but neither debt relief nor financial aid transfers to governments will achieve what is needed. In particular, we should stop talking about a Marshall Plan for the developing world. In so far as the Marshall Plan after World War II was successful, it served to aid reconstruction in countries which had had a developed infrastructure and, above all, a population trained and motivated to go forward to a modern economy and society. The money needed for development today needs much more careful targeting.

Secondly, the major task of any smart development policy is institution-building. This is no longer a new idea; the World Bank and even the IMF know it. Certainly the Government are aware of it, and I commend the recent Strategic Defence Review paper, A New Chapter, for including sections headed "Tackling the Basis of Terrorism" and "Engaging the Causes". Action has not yet quite reached the level of such knowledge. Governments could do worse than take Professor Amartya Sen's book, Development as Freedom, as their guide. Without what Sen calls "political freedoms", "economic facilities", "social opportunities" and "transparency guarantees", there will be no sustainable development.

Translating such principles into action is not easy. In essence, it means giving more emphasis to the social infrastructure of third world countries than to their physical infrastructure. Establishing the rule of law is critical, and it has to do with creating an incorrupt judiciary. Teachers have to be trained, and nurses. One is obviously hesitant to recommend the creation of further international institutions; there are probably too many already. However, given the collapsing state structures in many third world countries, there is a case for charging particular international agencies with building a social infrastructure that lasts.

I have quoted Sen's "types of freedom", as he calls them, except for one, which brings me to my third point: protective security. In developing countries in particular, it is, in Sen's words, necessary,

"to provide a social safety net for preventing the affected population from being reduced to abject misery, and in some cases even starvation and death".

I would add the argument: for preventing those frustrated by the long trek through the valley of tears from turning to terrorism to express their frustration. "Fixed institutional arrangements", in Sen's words, for cushioning the difficult passage to relative prosperity are hard to create and costly to guarantee. But, without them, we shall all pay an even higher price.

My fourth point is simple. We need examples of success in order to gain support for the smart development policy. That means concentration on particular countries. Whoever aims at everything will probably achieve nothing. That is why I believe the work which my noble friend Lord Ashdown is going to do in the Balkans is so important, and it is why I believe that Europe would be well advised to concentrate on the critical country of Turkey as much as on any other.

My fifth and final point has to do with Europe. The record of the European Union in development policy is mixed. It is certainly not a model of the smartness which Commissioner Patten had in mind. Yet such a policy would be an important contribution to a true partnership with the United States of America. America's readiness to intervene in many parts of the world by military means is not coupled with a similar readiness to contribute to building sustainable liberal institutions in foreign parts. We Europeans, whose collective military capabilities are likely to remain weak for a long time to come, have a task here which is suited to our experience, our interest and our capacity. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

Photo of Lord Stone of Blackheath Lord Stone of Blackheath Labour 5:37 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, I believe that the debate will show that there are links between poverty over there—wherever "there" is—and terrorism over here. But there are those who believe that, because of that link, we should do more over there for our own good and to protect ourselves. I hope that the debate shows a closer link and a different motivation for our concern.

I returned only yesterday from Ecuador. The level of absolute poverty there has just risen from 35 per cent to 70 per cent. The links between poverty and terrorism there are obvious, immediate and local. I met Jennifer on Sunday. She is four-and-a-half years old. She had been kept in a cardboard kennel in a back yard until last Thursday by adults who were not her parents. She had been hit so hard that it broke her jaw. She had lost most of the sight in one eye and one ear was badly affected. She had also been sexually abused. Her story is not uncommon, and I believe that that is the terrorism which is linked to poverty.

But I have come to report positively for this debate. I saw at first hand the type of work that wins over the hearts and minds of those who find themselves confronting extreme poverty and other difficulties. In Santo Domingo de los Colorados, the group of five people whom I accompanied, four of whom were British, went to help Orphaids, an organisation which helps children of parents with HIV or AIDS. John and Brenda Hart work for that NGO, running a project which provides a local home for such children just before or after their parents' death. The children receive bereavement counselling and the security of knowing that they will have a family and a safe home after their parents die. The parents have the comfort of being able to die knowing that their children will be safe in the future. I am sure that your Lordships will be pleased to know that the British Government will be supporting that project.

On a wider scale, since our trip, which was linked with Orphaids, PLAN International, a child-centred community development organisation, is now working in Ecuador with more than 70,000 families, with 3,400 local volunteers in seven localities, to help communities to improve the lives of their children. There are tangible results. The children now have access to better education, health and water, all thanks to partnerships between their parents and their local communities, local governments and NGOs. Over 100,000 people in Britain contribute to that work. Our own Department for International Development is also making a difference, supporting a very important child rights programme, giving children a voice and changing adult behaviour on issues such as abuse and child labour.

I also visited the indigenous Colorados Indians, who, with help, are improving their own society. They invited me to their meeting house, where they were discussing alternatives to the traditional hereditary method of finding their leaders. They asked for my views. They also said that their priorities for their community are education, health, crime and economy. I asked them, "What about transport?", and they said that they did not have much. They asked whether I could help them to find a couple of vehicles. I said I would ask.

Ecuador is not a country that experiences much international terrorism. It is certainly not a country that sponsors state terrorism. However, I believe that there is little room for complacency. Ecuadorians living in the border provinces, in Esmeraldas and Carchi, have experienced years of extreme poverty. Until recently they have received little help from either the central government or the international community. Some of their people are now forced to work in cocoa plantations across the border in Colombia, where the cocaine production business is run by terrorist organisations such as FARC, ELN and AUC. Those organisations began over 30 years ago as extreme left or right-wing movements fighting poverty. That is the fertile ground in which terrorist groups can recruit new members.

Our targeted help at the right time is exactly what is needed to reverse that type of situation. But in my view that work is best done altruistically, concerned with the violence and terror that is perpetrated on their children, rather than as an afterthought for our own self-preservation. I want to report to your Lordships' House that in Ecuador I saw wonderful British people doing just that.

My hope is that this debate will help those who live in extreme poverty in Ecuador and elsewhere to continue to receive the help that they need and I hope that we decide to increase resources in the future for their sake and not for ours.

Photo of Baroness Park of Monmouth Baroness Park of Monmouth Conservative 5:42 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, for initiating this important debate. A terrorist is defined as one who favours or uses terror, whether in governing or in coercing a government or community. Just such effects can be seen in the Sudan, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam (for a long period after the Vietnam War), Iraq, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, and today there are the very different but almost equally menacing situations in Afghanistan and Zimbabwe. I saw state terrorism for myself in the Soviet Union in the 1950s. For once I shall say nothing about our own home-grown terrorists.

However, I do not believe that terrorists spring from the poor and the oppressed, although poverty has necessarily been enhanced and prolonged by terrorist activity. Osama bin Laden and his followers are not poor, nor do they profess any mission to help the poor, but only to destroy what they hate in society, whether in the US or in some rich Arab state. Like the Baader-Meinhof gang, like Carlos the Jackal who was harboured by the Sudan, like Patty Hearst in the US, many are angry, spoilt, power-seeking children of the rich and privileged who want to destroy, not build.

Unfortunately there is a potent extra ingredient in the make-up of Al'Qaeda and that is the religious fanaticism that attracts some young men who lack purpose in their lives. To some extent that is our fault as we offer them nothing satisfying in which to believe. So far as I know, Al'Qaeda has never claimed that it wishes to redress poverty or to help the poor. Its members want to impose their particular brand of fanaticism.

Indeed there was a time when, in Latin America, extreme poverty and anger was a breeding ground for revolution and for ideologically inspired violence, which was understandable. However, today the very poor in Africa—the continent that I know best—are astonishingly patient, courageous and ready to try to make things work. They are not destroyers. Changing continents, my cook in Hanoi had one modest ambition: that his daughter should be a teacher. That is not much to ask. Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone are two examples of the fundamental, solid decency and sanity of people under attack, whether from state terrorism or violent men.

If the events of 11th September have given the world a wake-up call so that we may act more effectively to help to relieve world poverty that is good. I hope that all those Tokyo pledges will be kept. However, I do not believe that those events happened in the name of the poor.

It is nearly half a century since the colonial era in Africa ended. In that time the African formula for power residing, if not with one leader then at least with one powerful group, whether tribal or military, still effectively obtains in many countries. As Lumumba once explained to me, to tolerate an opposition is to demonstrate weakness not strength. Therefore, we are dealing with small, privileged groups.

It often puzzles me that the British are ashamed of their colonial past, which left a relatively sound administrative and economic infrastructure, the English language and the rule of law in a continent ruled and fragmented until then on tribal lines, wholly unadapted to the modern world. Yet we deliberately leave action on Zimbabwe to the EU on the grounds that, unlike us, it has no colonial overtones. The EU contains such brutal and incompetent so-called colonisers as the Belgians, the Germans, the Spaniards and the Portuguese and even, to some degree, the French.

NEPAD is now the "in" thing. The concept is admirable, although because of the African power structure I have doubts about how far any economic wealth will trickle down to the people. However, if we are rightly bent on treating African states as we would treat any other economic partner, we must recognise, as the World Bank does not, that Uganda does not yet enjoy the sophisticated infrastructure of Switzerland. En revanche, the African leaders must no longer be allowed to manipulate us by rejecting constructive criticism as colonialist, as has happened in the past, in regard to many of our best aid programmes. Colonialism has been dead a long time. It survives only in the minds of some politically correct gurus who believe it to be a credible reason for failure or, worse, inaction.

What is needed, and soon, is energetic measures to help each country to strengthen its infrastructure; for instance, through extensive training courses for administrators. It was the total absence of that that was Belgium's criminal legacy to the Congo, which should have been prosperous. Finally we must begin by reinforcing strength where it exists. Such countries as Zimbabwe, and to some extent Uganda, can be regional hubs of success. Let us build on that. Prosperity and law and order for the ordinary people will be one of the best, although slowest, ways of countering terrorism.

I have two further points. It is time we ended the proliferation of increasingly useless new organisations and made the existing international bodies, such as the UN and the Commonwealth, more effective. The Harare declaration has proved to be a hollow joke. The real test of the Commonwealth now will be the report of the observers of the Zimbabwe election. I am deeply grateful to the Government for the further injection of money that was announced yesterday. Nevertheless, once we have the result of that election, the Commonwealth will have to take some action.

My last point is that we should be seen to believe more in ourselves. Sierra Leone wanted us back because the colonial experience for them—surprise, surprise—was good. Every important black leader in anglophone Africa whom I have known had at least one loved and admired colonial service friend and mentor. They respect us when we respect ourselves. We should believe in ourselves more.

Touring round Africa with the French, who have a different agenda, and incidentally who were responsible for much of the violence and tragedy of the Great Lakes region, may do us good in the EU, but in Africa we should and could stand on our own decent record and act fearlessly.

Photo of The Bishop of Guildford The Bishop of Guildford Bishop 5:48 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, I must pray the indulgence and forgiveness of the House. Today I am on duty in place of my good friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford, who had hoped to contribute to this debate. I was determined to be present for this debate as chair of the board of Christian Aid, but this evening I have a longstanding engagement in Guildford that I cannot escape, so I doubt that I shall be here for the duration. That is my loss because the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, has introduced a subject of profound importance to all noble Lords. I share the gratitude of the House for that.

I want to establish a basic principle. One can raid moral and ethical thought and philosophy; one can dig deep into the heart of all the main religious traditions of the world; but nowhere will one find anything to justify the slaughter of innocent people. Whether one considers the terrifying experience of total war that was our lot in the 20th century, the suicide bombers who blow themselves up in open markets, or helicopter gunships and tanks firing shells at innocent people, one looks in vain for any principled justification for killing the innocent.

I am proud, if I may say so, to belong to a Church which owns the memory of Bishop George Bell, who had the profound courage in the midst of the last war to question the carpet bombing of German cities. We said, post-11th September, that we must respond to those wicked acts of terror by holding to the values of our history and culture in the practice of our international politics. If we allow an unprincipled pragmatism, which can sound so sensible in the immediate, to govern our politics, what response will we make to those who say that the only way we will shift injustice in our world is by indiscriminate acts of violence? "If it works, it must be OK", is not a principle of moral and religious conviction that we can accept.

So let us begin by drawing that moral line. But if the challenges of poverty and injustice in our time are not to be addressed by the route of violence, how are they to be tackled? The despair that many feel that there are no answers and that there is no hope will tempt people into seeking whatever way seems available to them if those of us with power and opportunity are not seen to be facing those challenges with urgency and commitment.

The moral challenges of poverty and injustice are huge, as the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, ably set out before us this afternoon. We cannot go on, through the process of globalisation and liberalisation in our international economic order, increasing the prosperity of the developed world while we leave billions of the rest of the human community behind. What strategies do we have for dealing with those challenges?

It is easy for us to point to war, civil disorder and mismanagement across the continent of Africa, for example, as the reason for so much poverty. There is truth in that. But following the suggestion that we should be specific, let me take noble Lords to the nation of Tanzania. It is one of the poorest nations in the world. But it is a peaceful country which, because it is at peace, can easily be forgotten in the cycle of need in our international community. The greatest contribution that its founding father, Julius Nerere, made was not rural socialism, but the uniting of its culture into one language and one political community. It is a country of equal numbers of Christians and Muslims, of people of many tribal and cultural backgrounds now owning a common commitment to the nation. People can walk the streets of Dar es Salaam, as I have, in peace.

I am told that 40 per cent of the world's population is under the age of 15. In countries like Tanzania the vast majority of the people are under the age of 25. The tackling of poverty can only happen by deliberate strategic action seeking to ensure that the systems of trade and international finance work for the poorest nations of our world. We have much still to do in that regard. Yesterday I was at a meeting, one year on from an international conference on child poverty addressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As was indicated there, we still have huge strides to take.

In relation to the issue of terrorism I turn to the Gaza Strip, to which some noble Lords may have been. If you enter some of the Palestinian refugee camps on the Gaza Strip you encounter the deep, seething anger of people about the injustice. This is the feeding ground of violence. We must tackle those issues politically. We must say to our American friends, "Unless you confront the issues of justice in places like that and not simply talk about the violence, you will go on feeding the possibility of terrorist action in our world".

Across our world emerging generations are looking to us to see whether we have the moral courage to meet the demands of justice for the poor and dispossessed. As the prophets of old made clear, protesting our religious or ethical purity carries no weight unless it is accompanied by actions which demonstrate our commitment.

Later this evening I shall be addressing a meeting in my diocese on the passion of Christ. There is an unbreakable golden thread of hope which links that theme to our debate this afternoon. It calls us to costly action for the helpless, and that is the meaning of this debate so beautifully moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, this afternoon.

Photo of Lord Rea Lord Rea Labour 5:55 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, I agree with the right reverend Prelate that the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, has chosen a crucially important subject. Since September 11th many voices have spoken about eliminating the root causes of terrorism. Those have included the Prime Minister. His words at the party conference are familiar:

"Out of the shadow of this evil should emerge lasting good—above all justice and prosperity for the poor and dispossessed".

Former President Bill Clinton voiced similar wise words, as the noble Lord said, at the Dimbleby Lecture. However, the present incumbent in that post has been much more insistent on being—to borrow a phrase—tough on terrorism rather than tough on the causes of terrorism. Tackling those causes is a much longer-term project. Some might say it is an endless task, not worth attempting; that terrorism as an evil must first be stamped out. I suggest that that would be the endless task, rather like the war on drugs—and that will be the case even if the body now being examined by the United States turns out to be that of Osama bin Laden.

Optimists suggest that September 11th should act as a stimulus to redouble the efforts we are making through DfID and international organisations to eliminate poverty, promote democracy and good governance. But as far as I am aware no systematic analysis of the links between underdevelopment and terrorism has been carried out. The noble Lord, by initiating this debate, has started the ball rolling.

As he pointed out, third world poverty underlies some "terrorist" activity, but the relationship is neither direct nor, as the noble Baroness, Lady Park, pointed out, universal. Terrorism means different things to different people. The definitions of terrorism in both the Oxford and Chambers dictionaries are interesting. Chambers says that terrorism is:

"An organised system of violence and intimidation, especially for political ends".

The Oxford Dictionary defines it as a "system of terror" or "government by intimidation". The words used by both tend to suggest more that terrorism is a system used by states against the people than vice versa; and that the activities of many repressive states constitute terrorism.

The purpose of torture, for example, is more often than not to intimidate and terrify people than to extract information. The extra-judicial killing of political activists, as well as eliminating the activist, is an instrument of intimidation directed at the population. When there is widespread feeling that a government are not responding to legitimate concerns and are violating human rights, activists and the population that supports those activists are driven to direct action. At first that may be non-violent—demonstrations, for instance, or the occupation of buildings—but if it is then resisted by state security forces using force or brutality, popular movements are driven to take up arms against the state. In that way coercive states can generate "terrorism" which is then directed against themselves in response to their own negation of human rights and intimidation of the population. The indirect link between terrorism and popular political action to reduce poverty by the people of the state in that kind of situation I hope I have made reasonably clear.

Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a lecture that I attended last November that extreme poverty was,

"the worst problem in human rights in our world today . . . [It] means a denial of the exercise of all human rights and undermines the dignity and worth of the individual. And yet, even in situations of extreme poverty the human spirit triumphs in fighting back".

The example she then gave was of a benign NGO-led project in a Delhi slum. But for many others poverty and a desperate and frustrating life, as suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, lead people to seek desperate remedies. Among these may be to join a religious movement which welcomes them into a faith and brotherhood and offers the promise of a better life and, at the same time, a target for their anger. Fundamentalist Islam fits this bill very well.

In an article in the Telegraph on 24th November, a South African, RW Johnson, described,

"the third world's love affair with Islamic fanatics".

He further stated that,

"the fall of communism deprived the so called non aligned bloc of the leadership it had [formerly] implicitly accepted".

More crudely, the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, recently described militant Islam as "the new Bolshevism", with the implication that it was to be confronted and fought rather than be made redundant through increasing prosperity.

Again I echo the right reverend Prelate. Although poverty may underlie terrorism, the immediate trigger is almost always widely perceived as unbearable injustice. An example is the central—but not the only—reason for the anti-American stance of Al'Qaeda and similar radical Islamic movements. That is, the United States support for Israel while it is illegally occupying parts of Palestine. A solution to this problem would truly be a "giant leap for mankind" against terrorism. Let us hope that George W Bush, in cautiously welcoming the current Saudi initiative, has perhaps seen the light.

Photo of Lord Moynihan Lord Moynihan Conservative 6:01 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, I commend the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, on his choice of debate. I congratulate him on his success in the ballot.

One of the consequences of the terrible events of September 11th was the establishment of a consensus; not only for a global coalition against international terrorism, but also for a global coalition against poverty. Nations and institutions alike agreed that action to alleviate poverty worldwide was needed to prevent a repeat of those atrocities.

We can only eliminate terrorism if the fertile conditions which breed it, such as poverty and marginalisation, are removed. I have fears that the political will for this view is likely to be difficult to sustain in the long term. It may become a poor relation to the more specific coalition against international terrorism. As the noble Lord, Lord Rea, has stated, poverty reduction is a long-term mission. There are no easy short cuts nor quick fixes.

The only way to eliminate the terrorist threat permanently is to understand and to treat its causes. Healing its symptoms can only ever be a temporary cure—neutralising the threat perhaps, but not removing it. The international coalition against terrorism has more easily measurable goals and is capable of more rapid successes—witness the collapse of the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the reduction of poverty and inequality is perhaps our most potent long-range weapon against terrorism.

Poverty and terrorism are often two sides of the same coin and our response must continue to be a twin-track one. One track is the uprooting and destruction of the Al'Qaeda network and its allies around the world. Parallel to that runs the equally important track of rendering infertile the soils of poverty, suffering and resentment in which the seeds of terror grow.

There is a minority school of thought which disputes the linkage between terrorism and poverty. Its advocates argue against a connection between socio-economic indicators and involvement in terrorist activities and suicide attacks in particular. Some even lean towards a darker view of humanity altogether, in which the evil of terrorism is part and parcel of the human condition—the tainted countenance of human nature.

Those who dispute the linkage between poverty and terrorism argue that the common stereotype of terrorists as uneducated, impoverished, disenfranchised unfortunates is no more than a myth. Some of the evidence supports that position. Osama bin Laden, born into wealth and privilege in Saudi Arabia, is held up as proof that it is not poverty which causes terrorism. It is often pointed out that the perpetrators of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks did not fall into the category of the poor and the hopeless, but were college-educated men, from middle-class Saudi Arabian and Emirate families.

That has led to a search for other reasons to explain the lure of terrorism. Some believe that the lack of democracy and the state-centred systems of government in countries such as Saudi Arabia, which allow their young subjects no official outlets for dissent or opposition, are to blame.

Terrorism is a many-headed hydra. Sometimes terrorism has a coherent political agenda; and sometimes it is used in a less focused way, to express rage and protest, or to advance an extreme and fanatic religious agenda, or even for more obscure pathological reasons. In all cases, terrorism makes no distinctions in its choice of victims. The young and the old, the rich and the poor, the politician and the bystander, are all legitimate targets to the terrorist. The power of modern communication to project the horror of terrorism has made it a devastating weapon. The ancient Chinese strategist, Hsun Tzu, defined terrorism as:

"Kill one, frighten ten thousand".

With the communications revolution and the power of television, many more today are frightened, but the principle is the same. While the aims and objectives of individual terrorists groups may differ, there is common ground to be found in the root causes of terrorism. Kim Dae-jung, the Nobel Peace Prize winner stated the matter well:

"At the bottom of terrorism is poverty. That is the main cause. Then there are other religious, national and ideological differences".

I do not say that there is always a direct linear route between poverty alone and the extremism or fanaticism which is so often the driving force behind terrorism. Nor does all terrorism have its roots in poverty, but when its origins lie elsewhere terrorism's adherents have tended to operate on the margins of society. But where terrorism finds resonance and support in the mainstream of a society, where it is perceived as a genuinely viable option, in those cases, poverty and despair will be found cheek by jowl with violence and fear.

I have said before that I do not believe there would have been the same level of popular support among so many in Pakistan for the Taliban and Osama bin Laden if Pakistan was not one of the world's poorest, most illiterate, most malnourished and least gender-sensitive regions in the world. Forty per cent of Pakistan's population lives below the poverty line; 36 million of its inhabitants live in absolute poverty; over two-thirds of Pakistan's adult population is illiterate; and half of all child deaths each year are linked to malnutrition.

Likewise, and I agree with the right reverend Prelate, I believe that the poverty of the Palestinians has nurtured their support of terrorism against Israel. Their standard of living has fallen by some 40 per cent since the signing of the Oslo accords, while unemployment rates are between 20 to 30 per cent in the West Bank.

A life lived in poverty, a life of hardship and a life devoid of hope, is one where terrorism may find the support it needs to succeed and where those who feel that they have nothing to lose and all to gain are willing to sacrifice everything, including their lives. This is one of the most important challenges of our time.

Photo of Lord Maclennan of Rogart Lord Maclennan of Rogart Liberal Democrat 6:08 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, I too am grateful to my noble friend Lord Dahrendorf for highlighting, in what may only be a quiet period between outrages, the threat of terrorism and the need to look more fundamentally than has been done here and elsewhere at what we can do to eliminate that irrational reaction to civic dissatisfaction.

I agree profoundly with what my noble friend has said. Therefore, I shall focus my remarks on the rebuttal of arguments that are not likely to be heard in this Chamber but which may be adduced elsewhere to qualify some of the prescriptions that he has offered. First, there is the argument that we do not know what causes these suicidal terrorists to commit to irrational self-destruction. It is true that the psychology of suicide bombers is not to be read like an open book. Few of them leave suicide notes in purported explanation of their actions. Comments about motivation made by third parties seeking to magnify the effects of their horrific actions may be exploitative rather than truly explanatory, but none the less the general thesis advanced by my noble friend is right. I support it entirely.

In answer to those who would argue otherwise, it is not so much the fact of destitution as an awareness of contrasting relative affluence elsewhere that provides the seedbed for terrorism. That awareness is inevitable. We cannot insulate ourselves from it or erect barriers against it. It is simply inconceivable that growing populations in North Africa, for example, enjoying direct media information on European life in all its affluence, will simply accept a large adverse disparity of income without seeking to do something about it. As Sam Brittan wisely observed,

"The situation in which capital is mobile but labour is not is hardly permanent. Movements across the Rio Grande between Mexico and the United States are surely suggestive of what will happen in Europe . . . Migration, whether legal or illegal is about the most peaceful move they might attempt".

It will not do for affluent countries to found their policies towards the third world on the belief that the prevailing distribution of wealth and income is sacrosanct. Nor can we regard the alleviation of poverty mainly as a matter of voluntary insurance or private benevolence. I must say that I have heard that kind of argument recently—last week, in fact—in both Washington and New York from people whose views I regard as well-intentioned but entirely mistaken.

My footnote is to seek to address a little further the imperative for institutional reform to which my noble friend referred, and which is powerfully argued by Amartya Sen in his book on development. The argument is sometimes deployed that it is no business of ours to seek to export our western notions of democracy and liberty to other countries that have their own way of doing things. That view is simply ahistorical and superficial. It fails to understand the philosophies expressed, especially on the Asian continent, far further back even than our own Christian dispensation.

The Buddhist convert, Asoka, who presided in the third century BC over an empire greater than the British Empire, promulgated views of religious toleration that would do well to be adopted by countries today, although India is by no means the country that one looks to for their enshrinement in law, for it is already among the most tolerant countries in Asia. Akbar, to take an example from another religion, was responsible for promulgating views about tolerance in legislation in 1590 in the Mogul empire, which should also be drawn to the attention of the intolerant Islamic extremists who have sought to deny such toleration.

Perhaps the most insidious anti-western view has been expressed by Lee Kuan Yew and his followers, who argue that an authoritarian solution is the only way forward and the only system compatible with economic growth. That too is shallowly based and does not stand up to scrutiny even in Africa, where Botswana, notably, has a highly successful developed democracy and the highest rate of growth.

This debate should be regarded as commenced by our discussion today. Given the enthusiasm of Members present to speak, all of us inevitably must confine our remarks, but I hope that we can take practical steps to support initiatives by governments—especially our own—to promote democratic underpinnings which make expenditure on aid more likely to be fruitful in defeating the frustrations that have given rise to terrorism.

Photo of Lord Desai Lord Desai Labour 6:15 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, one of the minor tragedies of September 11th was that it led to much muddled thinking. This debate on terrorism and poverty is an example of such muddled thinking. Of course, we should all do everything to eliminate poverty; that is quite right. I may turn to some dubious statistics about poverty later, if I have time. But we should never eliminate poverty because if we do not people may terrorise us. That is the perfect incentive for everyone to pick up a brick and throw it. We cannot establish any sort of invariable link between poverty and terrorism. The noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, is a distinguished social scientist. He knows how difficult it is to establish correlation between anything in social science, so let us not go down that road.

We ought to think of eliminating third world poverty, but the connection lately made—since 11th September, as if there had been no terrorism before then—is misplaced. It leads us to fallacious thinking about globalisation, among another things. One statistic that has not been mentioned is that during the past 30 years more people have been brought out of poverty than at any time in human history. I do not deny that there is still a lot of poverty, but the spectacular growth rate in Asia, China, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and so on has brought perhaps—I am guessing—1 billion people out of poverty during the past 30 years. So let us not hear anything about globalisation increasing poverty and all that nonsense. There is no hard evidence for that. There is a lot of poverty; it is very bad; and we should do something about it.

If I may add a footnote, we are not going to give anyone any aid. Forget about it! If we do not even help our own poor, we are not going to help the Third World. But we can at least stop subsidising ourselves with 300 billion dollars of subsidy for our own agriculture. We can stop being protectionist, so that we keep out the goods of the Third World as if our jobs are so much more important than their jobs. Recent articles in the press depicting a plant in Romania as a great enemy of our jobs in Britain showed how close protectionism is to all our hearts. Any money given abroad is our enemy because we care only about our jobs, their jobs do not matter. So the first thing that we ought to do is to stop being protectionist, stop subsidising ourselves and stop polluting the world. The poor will then take care of themselves and get themselves out of poverty. We should get out of the way rather than hinder them.

I have two minutes left in which to say something about terrorism. One root cause of terrorism is nationalism. There are lots of nationalist struggles—struggles that arise from injustices felt by nationalists against colonial or other oppressors—which lead to terrorism. Terrorism played a part in the creation of the state of Israel. It was born because its people had a grievance against an occupying power and took to terrorism. I have said before in your Lordships' House that the history of our Commonwealth has been one of terrorists becoming Prime Ministers. So, the new-fashioned idea that terrorism is all bad and that, therefore, we ought to do something about it is very dubious. It is bad thinking.

When we consider Northern Ireland, Palestine, Kashmir or Sri Lanka, we see that many struggles arise from the ills of nationalism—nationalism frustrated or denied and people not given as much territory as they thought they should have had. That is why people rise in revolution. It used to be said during the Cold War that if the first world did not give aid to the third world everyone there would become a communist. Well, we did not give them aid, and they did not become communists. Simplicities such as the belief that if we do not relieve poverty there will be more terrorism will not do.

As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford said, it is important that we settle the major problems of injustice, and they are political injustices. It does not require money to solve the problem of Palestine or the problem of Kashmir. In Sri Lanka, which is an exemplary country in terms of human development, they have been killing each other for 20 years. They have been killing each other not because there is no clean water but because there is a nationalist struggle between the Tamils and the Sinhalese.

We should do lots of things about terrorism and lots of things about poverty, but we should not mix the two up.

Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench 6:21 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, for his powerful introduction to the debate. It would be helpful to find a consensus about the causes of terrorism. No doubt some links between third world poverty and terrorism can be shown. However, they do not explain why relatively affluent Britons and Americans should rush off to join Al'Qaeda. They do not explain why, in the past, rich, well educated Germans and Italians joined the Baader-Meinhof gang or the Red Brigade. The long-standing use of terror in Northern Ireland, the Basque country and Corsica seems to have little to do with poverty. Nor does the extreme violence of some animal rights campaigners in this country.

Poverty is a depressing and depersonalising situation, but I doubt whether it is a prime cause of terrorism. Terrorism is more closely connected with powerlessness and injustice, with a sense that all channels of non-violent or political progress have been blocked off. Basic human needs theory maintains that subsistence needs are the most immediate and pressing. Once those have been satisfied, even inadequately, people try to meet their non-material and spiritual needs. Prominent among such higher needs is the quest for identity, which is both personal and corporate. It concerns the identity of the family, the tribe or the nation. Identity is denied if people are obliged not to use their own language or culture. Their identity is threatened if they feel that they have no economic or political rights. When identity is denied, people often become violent. Ideology or religion then provides the spark for terrorist violence, even suicidal violence.

I shall give some examples. In Northern Ireland discrimination and unemployment over a period of 45 years from 1922 led to nationalist alienation. There was fertile ground for IRA violence, once civil rights marchers had been attacked. Now, after the Belfast agreement, we are trying to cope with Unionist alienation. In South Africa, the ANC long maintained a non-violent stance. Only when apartheid became a wholly closed system, withholding the franchise and freedom of movement from most black and coloured people, did the ANC reluctantly agree to somewhat half-hearted terrorism. Later, when negotiations began to dismantle apartheid, some whites and some black leaders felt their identities to be deeply threatened. They too responded with terror. Now, thanks to great statesmanship, combined with Christian patience and forbearance, we can hope that those days are gone, in favour of a multi-ethnic democracy.

Israel, as has been said, provides another case study. When the Jews felt that they had no more than a toe-hold in their promised land, they produced their terrorists, in the form of the Stern Gang and the IZL. Israeli victories, in turn, generated Palestinian terrorism. The Palestinians saw themselves as second-class citizens in Israel, as a people under military occupation and rule in the West Bank and Gaza or as refugees and exiles in other countries. It is not surprising that they produced the PLO, the PFLP, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Palestinian terrorism has ebbed and flowed with the prospect of a political solution. There was hope at the time of the Oslo agreement and for a while afterwards. Now, we can only trust that those on every side will appreciate that war is unwinnable and that peace will have to be negotiated.

I hope that I have said enough to make it clear that people become violent when their identity is denied or suppressed. Terrorism in the hands of the powerless is seldom mindless; often, it is precisely calculated. Reactions to oppression and discrimination are similar in widely varying cultures. Terrorism that has popular support can rarely be suppressed by force and security measures alone. When that is tried, violence is likely to recur in the next generation. Poverty is not, in itself, a major cause, although relative poverty and envy may be an ingredient. Ideology and excessive religious zeal often trigger terrorism. Of course, we should not ignore poverty, but, as far as concerns terrorism, it is more important to pay attention to the loss of identity and self-respect, often accompanied by a burning sense of injustice.

Photo of Lord Parekh Lord Parekh Labour 6:27 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, for sponsoring and initiating such an important debate.

We can all take it for granted that terrorism is evil, and the modern form that it has taken is even more so. It is more indiscriminate, inflicts heavier casualties, makes vague and non-negotiable demands and has turned into something of a spectacle, designed to dazzle and impress. We are all agreed that terrorism must be fought and prevented. Is that enough? I do not think that it is.

Terrorism springs from deeper causes and will continue for as long as those causes are not systematically dealt with. More important, terrorism is often engaged in by people who think little of their life, for religious or other reasons. If there are people who are prepared to throw away their life for worthwhile causes, there is nothing that we can do to prevent it. Terrorism, therefore, cannot be seen in merely military terms. It is not a military problem; it is a political problem. As a political problem, it can be dealt with only by addressing the deeper sense of injustice or the deeper causes from which it springs.

What are the causes of terrorism? In our debate, we seem to have established some kind of connection between poverty and terrorism. My noble friend Lord Desai, with his customary eloquence and flair, highlighted some of the difficulties with that. The poor do not, by themselves, engage in terrorism. In fact, there are few examples in history of the poor engaging in terrorism. Generally, they are too demoralised, too disorganised and too unsophisticated to engage in any form of terrorism.

Although poverty is not directly related to terrorism, there is, however, a connection at a deeper level. That connection springs from the climate in which terrorism grows. The poor have no stake in society and, therefore, tend to fall easy prey to terrorist propaganda. They are desperate and therefore easily seduced by the terrorist fantasy of a Utopian society in which all their problems would be solved. Being disorganised, they can also easily be terrorised into doing things that otherwise they would not do.

Being brutalised by poverty, they tend to see little wrong in terrorist activities, in taking innocent lives. That is because their own innocent lives have been stifled by terrorist factors springing from poverty and the state. In short, the poor provide a readily available and mobilisable material for religious groups who relieve the poverty of the poor only by capturing their souls for fanatical causes.

For those reasons, world poverty needs to be treated as a matter of urgency. That is partly—but only partly, as my noble friend Lord Desai pointed out—because it leads to terrorism. But, more important, it is morally obscene. It creates instability in the regions concerned and produces weak states and, equally important, because prosperity in one part of the world is closely tied with prosperity in others.

While poverty is one cause of terrorism, it is not the only one. People react violently when they feel humiliated, used as pawns in an international power game, unjustly treated, marginalised or trampled upon. We in the West built up and used the mujaheddin in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and we have not been entirely even-handed in our approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have also supported obnoxious and repressive regimes in many parts of the world and stifled secular and progressive forces.

Sometimes we have trained and funded terrorists and have given state terrorism legitimacy. We have taken advantage of the vulnerabilities and ignorance of developing societies by manipulating them, either by imposing unfair terms of trade or using them for our own purposes. All these tend to provoke bitterness, anger, rage and hatred in some parts of the world and create a climate in which the likes of bin Laden have taken unscrupulous advantage of the people involved.

In short, while tackling world poverty, we must also address these and other causes of terrorism. We need to respect other societies, to treat them as equals, to cherish their cultural diversity and not think in terms of imposing our own way of life on others. We must stop intervening in the affairs of other societies in order to promote our own interests and we must be fair in our approach to international conflicts. Above all, we must abandon the isolationist illusion that somehow we can create an island of peace and civility in a world seething with desperate poverty, injustice, marginalisation and humiliation.

We now know that the caves of Afghanistan were closely connected with the World Trade Centre in New York. Just as the rich and prosperous cannot live happily in gated communities in their own societies, the rich and powerful nations cannot isolate themselves from the rest of the world. In a globalised world, we are interdependent and share a common fate. While we pay lip service to the rhetoric of human unity and interdependence, I do not think that we have even begun to grasp its full economic and political logic. Unless we do so, terrorism in one form or another will continue to haunt us.

Photo of Lord Astor of Hever Lord Astor of Hever Conservative 6:33 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, there can never be any excuse for terrorism. The root causes are many and varied and we have heard several interesting reasons and theories during the course of the debate this afternoon. The wealth divide certainly plays a part but, as my noble friend Lord Moynihan pointed out, the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon were not living in poor, third world countries. Many of the hijackers were well educated and middle class. Many of the foiled terrorist attacks since September 11th have been carried out by people from this country, the United States, France and North Africa, not third world countries. Behind every terrorist organisation there is a financial, recruitment and training infrastructure.

Terrorists such as Osama bin Laden are not motivated by poverty, but by ideology, religion and a festering resentment of the West. Most of the recent acts of terrorism have been prompted by religious or nationalist extremism, not by poverty itself.

While poverty may not automatically lead to terrorism, poor people in countries with bad governments are vulnerable to influence by terrorists. This harmful indoctrination can be programmed into the minds of the poverty-stricken, who suffer inadequate education, a lack of decent sanitation, healthcare and human rights.

Some 80 per cent of the world's population has just 20 per cent of its wealth. Vast tracts of mankind live on less than one dollar a day. We must reduce that number. The circumstances of under-development do matter. When an African child dies every three seconds, the developed world has a clear duty to act. We must continue vigorously with well-targeted development assistance. We need to help create capable states that encourage economic growth and invest in public services.

When poor countries are committed to good governance, there is a better opportunity to encourage a reduction in poverty while discouraging the control of terrorist networks. Under good governance, public institutions function transparently, accountably and responsibly on behalf of their citizens. Without it, the benefit of public programmes will not reach their targeted recipients, notably the poor.

It seems almost callous to suggest that anything positive might have come out of the events of 11th September. But a greater awareness of the misery that engulfs much of the world's population and a real determination to do something about what everyone has come to see as a morally indefensible divide, may be one of the lasting legacies of those terrible events.

After September 11th, the West must show that it is serious about constructing a just global economic order. Rich countries have responsibilities to the poorest of the world to open our markets and to transfer resources. Growth is essential for poverty reduction. This depends on having market-based policies which promote investment and deliver effective macro-economic management. At the same time, however, policies are needed to protect poor people from shocks and adjustment costs.

Trade has played an important role in encouraging the spread of democracy to the developing countries. Western economies need to create new markets into which global capitalism can expand. Louis Schweitzer, the chairman of Renault, has said that the market for cars in the West is saturated. To sell more cars, a prosperous middle class in other, less developed parts of the world, will have to be developed. In that way, poverty reduction in developing countries is good for developed countries. As incomes rose in Far Eastern countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, so too did the people's expectations for the establishment of democratic forms of government. China's entry into the World Trade Organisation is leading to such significant changes in its economy that its political system will also become more open.

Photo of The Earl of Sandwich The Earl of Sandwich Crossbench 6:39 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, has raised a very difficult question. I support his analysis that the poor are not to be blamed yet again for our discomfort. The Question easily leads us into a cul-de-sac because it is said that poverty can be a breeding ground for terrorism. But even if all the Chancellor's highly publicised dreams—I should like to believe in them—were to come true, we would still be unable to smooth over all the wrinkles of the developing world. We have to deal with the world as it is and try to work out what lies behind the appalling acts of terrorism that we have seen.

The gunmen who opened fire in a Rawalpindi mosque yesterday, or the murderers of Daniel Pearl, will be found only through the normal process of the police and intelligence services—and they need more support than ever.

Poverty is only one indirect cause. A more obvious one is oppression, which afflicts rich and poor alike. VS Naipaul said oppression does not exist—the noble Lord, Lord Desai, may agree with him—but it is widely understood to be an abuse of power. It is one of the conditions of man which leads to frustration and intolerance and, ultimately, to violence or terror.

Another much quoted cause is the disaffection of youth—the revolt against authority which thrives on poverty and oppression, although it comes in almost every family. Linked with this is religious indoctrination—the pressure on young men and women to conform and fight for a particular fundamentalist credo.

The corollary is militancy, the love of fighting which persists in many societies. Who is surprised by the aggression of tribesmen, for example, in Yemen, Sudan or Afghanistan until it is directed towards foreign embassies or a financial centre in Manhattan? As the world contracts, such violent cultural and religious clashes are bound to be more frequent, and they are not cured simply by freezing bank accounts or denying passports.

What about the actual ideological causes which can lead to uprising and intifada? All this is now branded as terrorism. One familiar example for us is the resistance against the Germans in occupied France. Surely all of us, or our parents, would have attempted to join that resistance, or at least would have sympathised with it. As has been said, there is a very fine line between soldiers in uniform and guerrillas who resist occupation. Is the terror on the side of the state or on that of the resistance fighter? In Zimbabwe, the Middle East and many areas on the brink of civil war, this line has eventually to be drawn.

The yardstick of terror is fear among the civilian population, and the reality in the West Bank and Gaza today is that there are terrorists on both sides putting fear into the population. We all know, and have heard again, that one-time terrorists are also fighters turned politicians who become our respected friends, our trading partners and even our allies in the coalition against terrorism.

There are also much wider cultural causes. I do not doubt that Anglo-Saxon superiority in its various economic and political forms plays a role in this vicious prejudice born of poverty, oppression and madness. Here I advocate world awareness and citizenship, which is the language of contemporary education. We have started on this road under this Government and we must stay on it.

The US likewise. But why is it that the American view of foreign affairs still looks like cowboys and Indians? The Government, by placing themselves so close to the United States, are entering a dangerous world of black-and-white solutions—a world which Europeans have long rejected. I am thinking, of course, of the US policy in countries such as Sudan, Israel-Palestine, Iraq and other points further east on the famous "axis of evil".

We all hope that the US will play a more significant part in eradicating poverty, but now that the Taliban has been defeated, will the US pay more attention to the plight of the people of Afghanistan? Weeks after the Tokyo conference, the aid agencies are still waiting for that answer, because on so many battlefields they have too often seen billions of dollars of military hardware rolling along past forgotten civilians.

Our Government have an important role in Afghanistan. They have made bold statements about poverty in Africa and parts of Asia. Gordon Brown and Clare Short have taken a strong stand, but the latest aid statistics from DfID tell their own story. The international development targets are becoming more elusive. Education and infant mortality have improved and yet adult literacy in countries such as Yemen, Mauritania and even Pakistan is still as low as 40 per cent, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan.

The latest partnership in Africa is not adequate. The unpayable debt relief and trade programmes are regarded as more effective routes to poverty alleviation, but there are no new initiatives which suggest that developed countries are making significant concessions.

In conclusion, areas of terrorism may coincide with the world's poorest societies, and NGOs continue to do their essential work. But at a higher level there is little to indicate a major shift in policy resulting from September 11th. All we are seeing is a half-hearted political coalition against terrorism. In the Middle East, the latest Saudi moves are encouraging, but unless General Sharon can be forced into a settlement—this is at the heart of our anti-terrorist campaign—the US and Britain, in the name of anti-terrorism, will, in effect, connive at continuing illegal occupation and persecution of both Palestinians and the substantial and growing Israeli minority who would like to see an immediate cessation of violence.

Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour 6:46 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, I declare an interest having spent most of my professional life outside Westminster working with humanitarian agencies. I am still very much involved—albeit now in a voluntary capacity—with organisations such as Oxfam, Saferworld and International Alert.

The noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, is to be congratulated on and thanked for a particularly scholarly and powerful introduction to the debate. Listening to our deliberations, I cannot help reflecting that in some ways we are in an almost classic pre-revolutionary situation—the grotesque concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a very few; the dispossessed billions; and the alienated, often well-educated, bitter élite which itself feels excluded and therefore sets out to exploit the impoverished.

It is that constituency of ambivalence that provides the ideal basis for terrorist activities. Many people would never contemplate terrorist action, but, in the context of struggling every day to survive until the next morning, sometimes inevitably ask themselves whether the terrorists are not on their side. When we talk so glibly about fundamentalism, we should ask ourselves how far fundamentalism really is a cause or how far it is a vehicle for the dispossessed. We do not have to look very far from where we are now to see evidence of that in the history of our own islands.

I want to talk very briefly, in the context of our concern about the link between terrorism and poverty, about some issues on which we should concentrate if we are to get things right for the future. First, there are the structural issues—not only the internal structural issues to which the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, referred, but the structural issues internationally of trade and debt and of enabling the developing countries not simply to play on a level playing field but to climb on to the playing field in order to begin playing. If that is to happen, we must look at what we ourselves must do in terms of tariffs, restrictions on trade and so on.

There is also the issue of demography. In 2001, the world population was 6.1 billion. It is likely to be 7.2 billion by 2015. Ninety-five per cent of this increase will be in the developing countries, mostly in rapidly expanding urban areas. Imagine the pressure that will put on fragile political systems. Imagine the consequences of that in terms of unemployment and under-employment.

In the context of that population growth, a disproportionate number of children are under 15. In Algeria, 60 per cent of children are under 15. As I have seen for myself from my own work in the past, many of these children feel better off and more secure in an armed band that is fighting for their interests than left destitute in the city streets.

Then, of course, there are the refugees. In 1970, there were 2 million refugees, and by 2001 there were 21 million, not to mention the internally displaced people who do not have the formal status of being classed as refugees because they have not crossed a frontier.

Already the refugees from Afghanistan are destabilising Pakistan and the region. The same problems are occurring in west and central Africa, central Asia and the Caucasus. Above all, we see the kernel of destabilisation, alienation and resentment in the Middle East. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, is right to refer to that constantly. Until the issue is resolved, we cannot look forward to a stable world.

Then there are the deprived ethnic minorities within many societies of the world, not least our own. Deprived, dispossessed and disadvantaged ethnic minorities are often in a structured way unable to break out of their predicament, which leads to a breeding ground for conflict.

There are other issues, too. We can imagine the pressures that will develop if we do not, for example, tackle effectively the issue of climate change. Imagine what will happen as pressures develop because of the increasingly short water supplies in the world, or the dislocation caused by the irresponsible arms trade. It is extraordinary that the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are the world's greatest exporters of arms. The culture seems to be that arms are good things to export unless there is an overriding reason for not doing so. In the context of what we are talking about, in terms of stability and the campaign against terrorism, the culture must change to one in which arms are seen as extremely dangerous things to export which should be exported only when there is a good security reason for doing so.

Those long-term issues must be addressed. In the midst of all this, there is an urgent challenge to talk honestly and closely to our American cousins. There seems to be a difference of emphasis between their unilateralism and militarism as a solution and the European emphasis on multilateralism and the realisation that, in the end, the battle will be won in hearts and minds. I hope that the Minister will reassure us that that difference is being debated strongly with our friends in the United States.

Photo of The Duke of Montrose The Duke of Montrose Conservative 6:52 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, it is not an easy task to follow a speech such as that made by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, with his powerful rhetoric and experience in the subject. I also wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, for giving us such a telling analysis of most of the problems that our world will face in the next 20 years.

In view of the many approaches that we have heard this afternoon, it may seem a little simplistic to suggest that international terrorism today seems to require three components before it is triggered in such a way as to become a threat. Those components have been touched on in different ways. The first is a sense of injustice; secondly, there is leadership with a reasonable degree of education; and the third component is money.

Ever since 11th September the hunt for a cure for terrorism has assumed a new urgency. The statesman who says that he has a cure for terrorism will find people beating a path to his door. Our Prime Minister has journeyed far and wide hoping to build up links to enable him to say that he has the influence to achieve something in that field. In his speech to the Nigerian Parliament on 7th February he was anxious to make a specific link between terrorism and poverty when he spoke about failed states, dictatorships and economically bankrupt countries as being a major source.

The trouble is, as the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, emphasised, using the words of the Minister for International Development, that poverty alone is not sufficient to ignite terrorism. It requires a perceived sense of injustice to get the fire going—passions in the human heart, envy, hatred, hurts from being excluded or insulted, or fears of privilege being undermined. Nowadays that is assisted by our modern world of instant communications in that the injustice does not have to be entirely one's own. Many of those who hold resentment over some relatively minor injustice are fired up to accumulate many other injustices to stoke the fire. Thereby, they add what they hope will bring meaning to their lives. As has been pointed out, they may be people whose lives lack meaning because of wealth as well as because of poverty.

Nobody is suggesting that we should deprive the third world of the other two elements that I analysed—education and money—simply to achieve an easier life for ourselves even if we had the power to do so. Our development programme aims to give the third world more education and more money. But because of that, we have to work with ever more serious dedication towards defining injustice, taking care not to invent injustice and removing it whenever it is in our power to do so.

I have known men of the political Left and the political Right who have been classed as rebels—some even as terrorists—in their own countries. Of those countries, in the four that can be classed as third world, I can spot only one in which the motive that drove them was poverty.

I do not know whether my final point will contribute to the fourth point of strategy outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf. I shall touch on Lebanon because it is an area that has been wracked by terrorism. My brother-in-law happened to be one of the first western reporters to cover the Sabra and Shatilia massacres of Palestinian refugees in the Lebanon. My other rather limited source of knowledge of the country comes from my younger son who, after two summers staying in Palestinian refugee camps, made it the subject of his university degree.

He has recently brought to my attention an interesting development in the field of what newspapers would at the outset have labelled the cause of the conflict—religion. There can hardly have been two more ruthless opponents than the so-called Christian and Muslim militias who fought it out in the streets of Beirut. But there is now a dialogue between former participants from both sides. It is headed by a former senior officer of one of the Christian militias and has a great deal more to do with the actual practice of the Christian religion. He apologised in the press for what he had done in the name of his nationalism and Christianity. He has found an equal response from individuals who had been engaged equally violently on the Muslim side and who were prepared to see that a fuller understanding of their own religion entailed a denunciation of the kind of violence in which they had been engaged. Together they can now talk about a better future for their children in a shared country.

I raise this subject because I am anxious for our country with its wide experience of world affairs to look for ways in which to address the all-important roots of terrorism. Luckily, no noble Lords have suggested that we should confine ourselves to addressing only the economic problems. The right reverend Prelates are unfortunately unable to be here, but I hope that they will forgive me when I say that my fear is that if we were to refuse to address all the elements, we would be accused of something that has been said about the Christian religion, which is that it has not been tried and found wanting, but that it has been found difficult and not tried.

Photo of Lord Bhatia Lord Bhatia Crossbench 6:59 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, for initiating this debate. In a few words, such as "third world", "poverty" and "terrorism", he has captured the essence and headlines of much of today's malaise around the world. Poverty and terrorism are not necessarily confined to the third world. They exist in the West, too. At times, poverty breeds terrorism; at other times, terrorism creates poverty.

Apart from the usual forms of terrorism, I wish to draw attention to state terrorism when governments behave as terrorists, with a veil of democracy in some cases, or sheer gun power in others. The irony is that when the populations under such regimes rise to defend themselves or to oppose the state, they are called terrorists by that state. On the other hand, the populations that rise up to oppose the state call themselves freedom fighters. Who is right? Who are the terrorists? We look at the same conflict from two different windows and see a different picture.

I want to talk about poverty in the third world and touch on some of the root causes of terrorism. In the third world, in many cases, there is constant tension and conflict between people and the state. In many cases, the state has a thin veneer of democracy to legitimise its control, but is not truly democratic. In some cases, democratically elected government has turned into dictatorship. Avoiding, delaying or rigging elections to stay in power becomes the norm. The example of Zimbabwe is right in front of us.

As we examine the links between poverty and terrorism in the third world, we need to examine also the links between lack of democracy and poverty which lead to terrorism. Who are those who support the regimes that deny the human rights of their own people? We in the West must accept some blame. In our national interest, we continue to support and prop up undemocratic regimes—and the population of such countries pays the price for it. We allow arms exports to such countries and allow the arms brokers to sell arms to the people who want to fight their government. There is a spiral of violence and conflict fuelled by arms. The product of such processes is that poverty grows and breeds terrorism, not only within a country against the government, but against those who have supported that evil government. Why are we surprised when we see those products of poverty become terrorists?

What are the solutions, and what is the possible way forward to deal with third world poverty and reduce terrorism? Here is a menu—fixed or à la carte, as you will. First, we must increase and support the process of democracy. Secondly, we must promote and ensure human rights globally. Thirdly, we must forgive third world debts. Fourthly, we must deal with corruption everywhere, whether in the West or in third world countries. Lastly, we need to establish a type of Marshall Plan—it could be called a "Clare Short Plan" or a "Tony Blair Plan", but such a plan must be established to help in these processes.

In the global economy, the rich and the poor countries—North and South, first world and third world countries—are intractably linked. What happens to the poor will affect the rich. If we wish to deal with the root causes of terrorism, we need to address the causes of poverty, not only for our security and peace but because it is the right and moral thing to do.

We need to remind ourselves of some of the statistics of poverty. Half the world's people live on less than two dollars a day. About 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. One in five children never go to school. One billion adults cannot read or write. Malaria and TB kill 7 million children annually in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. That is abject poverty. Unless there is a will to deal with these issues and a will to provide actual cash resources, the poor will become poorer and many will become easy prey to terrorism.

Let us remind ourselves about the Marshall Plan. In 1945, the US Secretary of State, George Marshall, transferred 1 per cent of the USA's national income for four years to Europe. In today's money it would be about 75 billion dollars. This was not an act of charity but an investment to create peace and prosperity for both the USA and Europe.

Just as the Marshall Plan brought peace and prosperity to the USA and Europe, investment in a type of Marshall Plan for the developing world, particularly for Africa, could also eliminate poverty and terrorism in the world. It is estimated that there is a need for 50 billion dollars over the coming years for that purpose. That is a massive sum of money to be transferred to the developing world—but the issues of poverty and terrorism are massive.

Before concluding my remarks, I must raise the question of free trade and the opening up of markets for the third world. The Doha round can be successful only if it is fully implemented and can play as important a part as the Marshall Plan did for Europe. With three-quarters of the world's poor living in rural areas, market access for their agricultural products could make a colossal difference in the eradication of poverty. It is estimated that agricultural subsidies in the West run at the rate of 1 billion dollars a day—six times the amount spent on development assistance. I submit that the single act of removing agricultural subsidies—which are an abrasion on the landscape of free trade—could save lives, reduce poverty and deal with one of the root causes of terrorism.

I end by quoting President Bush and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair. In July 2001, President Bush said:

"Our goal is to ignite a new era of global economic growth through a world trading system that is dramatically more open and more free. We must reject a protectionism that blocks the path of prosperity for developing countries. We must reject policies that would condemn them to permanent poverty".

The Prime Minister said in October 2001:

"If globalisation works only for the benefit of the few, then it will fail and deserves to fail. But if we follow the principle that power, wealth and opportunity should be in the hands of the many not the few—if we make that our guiding light for the global economy—then it will be a force for good".

I hope that your Lordships will join me in saying to President Bush and to the Prime Minister, "Well said. Now deliver it. The hungry and the poor of the third world wait for your words to be translated into reality".

Photo of Lord Haskel Lord Haskel Labour 7:05 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, in introducing this Motion for Papers the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, has asked us to consider one of the more unexpected aspects of third world poverty: terrorism in the third world and terrorism in the developed world.

Some noble Lords blame the prosperous nations for the poverty of the third world. Unlike my noble friend Lord Desai, I believe that, sadly, there is a grain of truth in such arguments. We must eliminate that grain of truth. I agree with the right reverend Prelate. Attempting to do this with aid is a tricky business. As the noble Lord, Lord Bhatia, said, over the years corrupt rulers have been allowed to misuse aid. Aid has been, and still is, tied to trade—which in itself leads to corruption. Equally, aid has been used as a substitute for trade and has thereby weakened the economy of the receivers instead of strengthening it. As my noble friend Lord Desai pointed out, rich countries have put barriers between themselves and third world countries, and that has caused much resentment. The noble Lord, Lord Bhatia, made the same point. The European Union's "Anything But Arms" initiative is a welcome attempt to overcome that in the field of manufactured goods, but the common agricultural policy still keeps agricultural products out of Europe. As the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, said, all this has caused impotent outrage and anger; and we now know that in some countries that fuels terrorism.

If aid is going to work to reduce terrorism, not only will it have to help a country's economy; it will have to help to put in place more effective political institutions, capable of providing resources to fund better public services, especially health and education. There must be better targeting, as my noble friend Lord Stone put it. The aid must be designed to deliver order where there is disorder. Fortunately, many progressive development agencies and progressive countries are trying to provide aid along those lines. What terrorism has done has been to make the situation more urgent. The whole process must be speeded up.

My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been aware of the importance of aid ever since he became Chancellor. He has been taking initiatives in the public sector in regard to debt reduction and has set ambitious targets for reducing poverty and increasing aid. But in the private sector, too, attitudes may have to change. Business is currently promoting initiatives to counter these difficulties in terms of corporate social responsibility and voluntary codes of conduct for operating in a deregulated market. If international terrorism signals the failure of these initiatives, then international business will find that it will have to give up some of its rights and freedoms in favour of greater world-wide regulation on the environment, on human rights and on tax, and it will have to accept the jurisdiction of international organisations.

As other noble Lords have pointed out, terrorism is a complicated matter, involving outrage and anger at other matters as well as at poverty. I agree with the noble Lords, Lord Dahrendorf and Lord Astor: it is certainly not poverty alone that has stimulated Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. As the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, said, terrorism needs money. The Economist magazine recently pointed out that the jihad movement continues to attract some of the Arab world's richest, most privileged and best-educated people. The reports in last week's Financial Times on terrorist finances described the huge array of sources of funds for these terrorists: businesses, charities and private donors.

Terrorist funds have been blocked in 147 countries. So if it is not poverty that has outraged these terrorists, what is it? I believe that it is outrage at the competitive, modern and glamorised world in which we live, especially, as the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, pointed out, in the United States. It is the fear of secularism; the intolerance caused by fundamentalist religious certainty in all religions. The press recently carried a number of articles by Arab commentators calling on their countries to open their economies, to modernise their societies, to modernise their education and their systems of government and to stop blaming the West for all their ills. Nor is the answer forcing Mr Sharon to do something, as the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, suggested.

Of course, what precipitated all this was the attack on September 11th, and it has been kept alive by President Bush's speech about the axis of evil. I was in the United States when he made that speech. I believe that he was saying to North Korea, Iraq and Iran that the policy of engagement—the policy of building bridges—has a limit. In Afghanistan that limit had been reached. What he is looking for is a sign that these countries understand this, and that the USA is ready to fight terrorism. Mr Bush also went on to praise the international alliance against terrorism and poverty, but that was hardly reported. What I found more disturbing in the United States was the stifling of dissent. Any questioning of this policy towards terrorism was labelled as "unpatriotic".

So the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, is right to draw our attention to the links between terrorism and poverty in the third world. By doing so, he has given an urgency to the elimination of poverty.

Photo of Lord Wallace of Saltaire Lord Wallace of Saltaire Liberal Democrat 7:12 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, we have had a most interesting and expert debate. I hesitate to add to much of what has been said. Most of all, in the opening speech of my noble friend Lord Dahrendorf, I was fascinated by the subtlety of his argument about the relationship between poverty and terrorism, and the way in which he stressed that terrorism is at least as much a disease of modernisation as it is a disease of absolute poverty. I very much agree with him and wish to take that argument further. After all, we have had the same experience in Europe over the past 200 years; namely, that fundamentalism was part of the disease of modernisation and of the immense dislocation of society and of values as a result of the shift from the village to the town and the city and the shift from traditional assumptions about life to bourgeois education and all the different matters that accompany it.

Due to the speed of transition in Saudi Arabia, people in one generation have gone from traditional villages where they lived in wooden houses and moved around by way of donkeys right through to seeing universities being built in new towns, and engineering being provided as a subject for a university degree. Indeed, that has meant a huge dislocation. The younger generation find themselves arriving in a different world into which they are not entirely accepted, in which they do not feel entirely at home, and from which many feel themselves alienated and excluded.

We had the same experience in 19th-century Europe. This country had the tremendous advantage of being the first to go through the Industrial Revolution and the population explosion. We went through that process more slowly than those who followed. After all, it was Germany that went through that revolution most rapidly and, therefore, found it most dislocating. Thereafter, it was the turn of northern Italy and the countries of what was then the Austro-Hungarian empire. Outside Europe it was Japan. Some years ago I can remember hearing a very elderly Japanese person talking about going up to visit a village that was still effectively living in the Middle Ages, and then moving into a city that was going through the Industrial Revolution.

Fundamentalist movements in Europe were often forms of secular fundamentalism, anarchism, faschism and communism. However, they brought with them the same pressures—rapid population growth and urbanisation—which are now afflicting societies across North Africa and Asia. As a number of noble Lords have said, those pressures are made more acute in that area by the immediacy of global communications and by the rich world's attempted blockage of the safety value of outward migration that was there for 19th-century Europe. These people have images of the forbidden promised land, the sense of exclusion from the rich but foreign world. It is, therefore, not at all surprising that those who were directly involved in the events of 11th September were very often people who had been educated in the West but were not in any sense assimilated into it.

The problems in Africa south of the Sahara are in many ways different. With respect, I believe that our Prime Minister exaggerates the link between poverty and terrorism in trying to justify NEPAD as a defence against terrorists. There are many other ways to justify the development of Africa, but, at present, there is no threat of terrorism exported from Africa south of the Sahara. There are many other threats that face us from the many weak and failed states across Africa; namely, uncontrolled migration, desperate refugees fleeing from corrupt governments and internal conflict, disease spilling out from societies where traditional structures have collapsed, and trans-national crime and illegal trade in drugs, diamonds, timber, and so on.

The latter are also threats to our comfortable, rich world. It is in our long-term self-interest to respond to them. However, there are some dangers in attaching the label of "terrorism" to all the problems of the third world. The problems that developing countries face are much more complex and deserve a broader and more modulated response. But what should our response be? Of course we have to respond to terrorism, but that requires good intelligence and co-operation among police forces more than investment in heavy weapons. It requires a long-term response, not the drawing up of the sort of posse that is being called for in the United States.

I recommend the article by James Woolsey in last Friday's Wall Street Journal to the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich. The article compares the current situation to the film "High Noon": the United States is, indeed, the sheriff standing up to the evil men as they return to town, and the Europeans are the wimps who are finding excuses to slip away. It is a most unfortunate image. We must recognise just how far the current European consensus on what our response should be is from the current consensus within policy-making circles in the United States. We have to talk about nation building not only in Africa but also, as my noble friend said, in Bosnia and in Turkey. After all, Turkey is going through a huge population explosion, with all the dislocations that follow, as well as experiencing problems of urbanisation. We do have a stake in demonstrating that a secular state can grow successfully and democratically out of Islamic roots.

We also have similar long-term problems across west and central Asia; that is, in building a civil society, in building institutions that arouse the trust of the community, and in building a more liberal approach to education. It is a long haul and this will pre-occupy the rich West for more than a generation. We also have to keep the door open to migration—not a popular statement to make when standing for election in this country, or in many others—to allow the élite of those countries, the desperate, to come and join our societies and to begin to feel that they are not excluded by the West.

We must also recognise that adjustments have to be made in the North in our patterns of conspicuous consumption and, in particular, in our consumption of energy resources. Nothing depresses me more about the current response from the United States than the denial that US consumption of energy is part of what is seen as the arrogance of the West and that the US drive for security of energy has biased American policy towards the Middle East for the past 30 or 40 years. There are some enormous problems with the widening gap between American and European understandings of how to respond.

The events of September 11th and their aftermath were a shock to the United States. I am struck and depressed by the extent to which Americans believe that the situation is entirely different from any terrorist threat that European states have had to face in the past 30 or 40 years. I am also struck and depressed by their faith in a military response to the exclusion of other areas and the denigration that one faces when arguing for the European emphasis on the social underpinnings of fundamentalism and anti-westernism and of the importance of assisting in social and economic development.

There is also a denial that the American image is at stake. The Israeli-Palestine conflict is clearly linked to what is happening in the Middle East, but the perception in central and western Asia that the United States does not care about social and economic development outside Israel is very much part of the enormous problem. The sadness that Israel is now destroying the Palestinian economy and thus creating a much more fertile basis for future Palestinian terrorism is part of where we now find ourselves.

As the noble Lord, Lord Bhatia, said, not only does poverty breed terrorism, but terrorism and corrupt and weak states lead to poverty. Sadly, we are now seeing that in Zimbabwe and we have to an extent seen it from the relatively weak state of Pakistan. It will not be easy for the West to take on and maintain the delicate task of promoting good and less corrupt government across the world. We face the very hard task of explaining to our comfortable citizens that they cannot shut out the problems of the developing world or the frustrations of the newly educated and that we have to invest in their development and adjust some of our most cherished patterns of consumption to the requirements of creating a more balanced global community.

Photo of Baroness Rawlings Baroness Rawlings Conservative 7:22 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, on initiating this important debate. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, for replying in the absence of her noble friend Lady Amos, who I gather is representing us in Australia. We quite understand that. The debate has been most informative, with many extremely interesting and convincing contributions. I agree with many of the points that have been made by most noble Lords.

As has been said, we were all stunned by the terrorist outrage on 11th September, which shocked and shook the complacency of the West. We have been horrified and outraged yet again by the more recent terrorist attacks in the Middle East. The Government and her allies have the support of these Benches in their actions to tackle terrorism and the causes of terrorism. It is this second point—the causes of terrorism—that has provoked today's debate. We have heard several noble Lords refer to the links between third world poverty and terrorism. We on this side have long emphasised the importance of humanitarian assistance. That has been particularly relevant in the rebuilding of Afghanistan, where humanitarian aid has gone hand in hand with combating the evil forces of the Taliban, who occupied that country for a number of years.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States last September, the question of where and why terrorism originates has preoccupied leaders and governments throughout the world even more than it did before. But the war against terrorism has erroneously broadened into a war against poverty. Poverty was soon identified as a major cause of disaffection, which could easily lead to extremism in certain circumstances. That link was the theme of the Prime Minister's recent visit to Africa.

The causes of terrorism are wide and varied, as we have heard from many noble Lords, especially the noble Lord, Lord Parekh. It is not my intention to argue that poverty does not contribute to the causes of terrorism, but to emphasise that any problem often has many root causes. With terrorists, we are not dealing with the African poor, as my noble friend Lady Park so eloquently described, but with an exceptionally dangerous trans-national network of political conspirators who employ terrorism as a strategy—that is, they strike at non-military targets to gain publicity for their cause, to demoralise and discredit governments and to gain popular support by provoking the authorities into overreaction. Those are the classic tactics of the weak, not the poor.

Terrorism today, as in the 1960s and 1970s, is mostly about destabilising the West by extending the classic von Clausewitz definition of war as the continuation of politics by other means. The main tools for dealing with terrorists are the same today as they were then: the intelligence services and the police, backed, where necessary, by specialist paramilitary units, not necessarily international aid.

My noble friend Lord Moynihan was quite right when in October he argued that:

"Terrorism is a malignant disease, and like all diseases, prevention is better than cure".—[Official Report, 18/10/01; col. 770.]

That quite accurate sentiment makes it important that we do not lose track of the wider issue by focusing on just one cause of terror. Indeed there is an argument that, far from breeding global terrorists, poverty makes countries more introspective. Global terrorists may use impoverished, unstable countries as cover, but they need money, technology and sophisticated organisations. In many cases, recruits to terrorist organisations have been identified as disaffected, well educated youths from relatively affluent backgrounds. The terrorists who attacked New York last September were not Afghans, but Saudis and Egyptians. The threats from weapons of mass destruction come from oil-rich Iraq and Iran. The very poorest countries are often too preoccupied with internal affairs to foment trouble far away on different continents.

Traditionally, terrorism has been a method used to achieve a specific political objective. In 19th century Russia it was the overthrow of the Tsarist regime. In the Bosnia of Gavril Princip or the Ireland of Sinn Fein it was liberation from alien rule. Once their objective is achieved the terrorists—now transformed into "freedom fighters"—are welcomed into the community of nations and become respected heads of state or, at the very least, are provided with offices in Westminster.

In the case of Al'Qaeda, the ideological war against the West, and particularly against the United States, goes way beyond the impoverishment of Arab territories. To the Al'Qaeda network, US policy towards the Middle East is seen as a just cause to attack the perceived oppressor. That policy includes the presence of American forces in Saudi Arabia, the impact of 10 years of sanctions on the Iraqi people and the American support for Israeli measures against the Palestinians. Their roots go far deeper and their objectives are infinitely more ambitious. They are rooted in a visceral hatred and contempt for Western civilisation as such and resentment at its global ascendancy. Their object is to destroy it altogether.

Those factors make it very important that an explanation of the current inflammatory situation cannot be confined to poverty. As my noble friend Lord Astor of Hever so clearly and rightly said, although the alleviation of poverty should be high on the world's agenda, we should perhaps be cautious about viewing it as a solution.

During this debate, speakers have identified a wide range of other causes of terrorism, including religious intolerance, lack of respect for human rights and individual liberty, and—as the noble Lord, Lord Desai, said in his interesting speech—narrow nationalism. Moreover, as the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, so rightly said, we should not forget to include animal rights terrorists.

Over the years, the factors that I have mentioned have influenced terrorist organisations such as the IRA, ETA in Spain, Hamas and Islamic Jihad although poverty was not the issue.

Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out a century and a half ago that revolutions are caused not by poverty but by rising expectations and by the whole process of development—without which poverty cannot be eliminated. As Professor Sir Michael Howard, the renowned military historian, rightly said,

"historical precedent suggests that poverty itself is not the problem as has been frequently emphasised, it is not amongst the poorest countries that al Quaeda finds its recruits but the richest. Our object in combating terrorists must be not to exact revenge but to bring them to justice for the crimes they have committed and prevent them from committing any more".

The issue of injustice, whether real or perceived, has woven its way throughout this debate, as my noble friend the Duke of Montrose has reaffirmed. In the end we cannot escape the evil of terrorism. Andrei Sakharov, when in forced exile in Gorky, said much the same as did President Bush after September 11th. He said:

"I hope that people all over the world will understand the deadly nature of terrorism whatever its goals and will deprive them of any kind of support, even the most passive, and surround them with a wall of condemnation".

Photo of Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean Minister of State (Middle East), Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Minister of State (Trade), Department of Trade and Industry, Minister for Trade and Investment and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords (also Department of Trade and Industry), Minister of State (Trade and Investment) Deputy Leader of the House of Lords (also FCO) 7:32 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, for initiating this debate. His speech established a pattern for an extraordinarily well-informed and thoughtful debate.

If I may say so, initiating this debate has also been a very bold initiative. The discussion of poverty and terrorism is at once both enormously important and highly sensitive. My noble friend Lord Rea reminded us that, in recent months, Members of this House have experienced some difficulty in defining what we mean by terrorism, let alone in agreeing on its causes. In recent weeks, I have sat in international meetings and experienced precisely the same definitional problems with colleagues from overseas. I have heard IRA activities in Northern Ireland described as "freedom fighting", and I have listened to those who, in seeking to explain the causes of the horrors of 11th September, have come all too dangerously close to justifying what happened on that terrible day.

Like many others who have spoken today, including of course the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, let me be absolutely clear and unequivocal: terrorism cannot be justified. Whatever the perceived cause or grievance, terrorist activity is always repellent and evil, involving as it almost always does, violence, murder and terrible suffering to innocent people. I disagreed a little with the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, because I do believe that terrorism is as old as history; we have only to remember the massacre of the Jews in York, or of the Huguenots in France. I agreed very much with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. Since recorded history began, there have been examples of those who believe that their cause was so different, so powerful and so justified that they had the right to force others through any means at their disposal to acquiesce in their demands.

What makes the voices of some individuals, filled with that potent combination of zeal and hatred, so persuasive to others? At what point do people with a legitimate political, social or religious objective turn from pursuing their causes through civil or political means and turn to violence, murder and other forms of criminality? As the noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth, reminded us, some terrorist acts arise from the particular obsessions of individuals who do not find support and might even be described as outsiders in their own communities; examples include the destruction of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the sarin gas attacks in Tokyo and the 1970s kidnappings undertaken by relatively affluent and very self-absorbed European youth terrorists. Such acts were one-off because the terrorists were unable to draw on the support of the people who shared their sense of injustice and frustration.

Elsewhere, however, terrorism has taken deeper root. The noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, is again right: terrorist groups most likely to do significant damage are able to draw on support from within their own communities to enable them to plan and finance their activities. There are people who are prepared to support or acquiesce in terrorism as they share the terrorists' goals and are somehow able to condone their methods. There are many deep and unresolved conflicts in the world, many of which have been mentioned today, including those in Nepal, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Somalia, and—one of the deepest and bitterest—in the Middle East, which was the focus of the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and my noble friend Lord Judd.

Some seek to justify terrorist activity because they believe that globalisation has made them powerless and that—as the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, said—forces beyond their control have marginalised their ability to act legitimately in their own interests. While acts of violence in pursuit of such arguments can never be justified by reference to poverty or deprivation, we have to deal with the arguments themselves. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford was right: there is terrible poverty in the world, innocent people are suffering and there is appalling injustice. As the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, argued so very powerfully, a sense of injustice, perceived or real, is a very potent factor.

The issue for us is how we use the resources available to us to deal with that poverty and injustice. As the noble Lord, Lord Bhatia, reminded us, the Prime Minister said,

"power, wealth and opportunity must be in the hands of many not the few—if we make that our guiding light for the global economy, then it will be a force for good and an international movement that we should take pride in leading".

Some terrorism is criminal not only in its outcome of violence and destruction but in its motivation. My noble friend Lord Stone reminded us of the drugs trade in Colombia, where powerful armed groups finance themselves through the drugs trade, the illicit diamond trade in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and the appalling trade in human beings that is perpetrated right around the globe. Intimidation may be used to force support, but poverty too can be a powerful recruiting sergeant in such cases.

I return to a comment of the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, in which he was supported by my noble friend Lord Parekh and the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich. The truly destitute—those who live on the edge of starvation—do not engage in terrorism. However, those who have the means to perpetrate violence also have the means of communication; they have the means of organisation and the technology. They also have money and resources, as the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, argued.

I therefore agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, my noble friend Lord Rea and the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, that the link between third world poverty and terrorism is a highly complex and difficult one. It is perhaps less contentious to describe it in terms of the relationship between poverty and conflict. However, I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Park, and the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, that to imply that poverty causes conflict or terrorism would be a huge injustice to the millions of the world's poor who work hard day in and day out and never turn to violence. Nevertheless, poverty can provide fertile ground for conflict to grow and for those with evil intent to pervert the thirst for social and economic justice into violence and terrorism.

One issue is all too clear: conflict causes poverty. However, although it causes poverty everywhere, it does so perhaps most obviously in Africa. As the Prime Minister said last October, the state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world. Twenty of the world's poorest countries are either involved in violent conflict or have recently emerged from it. The stark truth is that the poor are terrorism's most numerous victims.

Let us take an appalling example that is so brutally fresh in all our minds. The World Bank has estimated that the additional slowdown in the world's economy resulting from the 11th September outrage will mean that, in 2002, 10 million more people will have to survive on less than one dollar a day. The World Bank has also argued that tens of thousands more children will die as a result of poverty related illnesses. So the terrorists who perpetrated that evil are also responsible for hurting the most vulnerable people and the weakest countries in the world. I assure my noble friend Lord Stone and the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, that Her Majesty's Government believe in tackling poverty because it is right to do so and because our humanity and our sense of justice demand that we do.

I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, mentioned the statistics that Bill Clinton gave in his Dimbleby lecture. I add that a quarter of the world's population die of the diseases related to poverty: AIDS, TB, malaria and diarrhoea. Some 10 million children die every year from malnourishment and preventable illness. Moreover, 113 million children do not have access to primary education and as a result 800 million people cannot read or write.

The impact of poverty is not just an individual human tragedy. As the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said, poverty destabilises societies. It can be the soil in which terrorism thrives. Even stable poor countries are unlikely to have the resources to implement effective counter-terrorism measures. To stop money laundering or the illegal movement of arms and explosives is difficult enough in a county like ours, let alone in the poorer countries of the developing world. Countries without resources to provide basic services for their populations may find those with extremist ideological messages coming in to fill the gaps, particularly in the field of education.

As conflict is such a powerful factor in preventing development and keeping people poor, resolving or avoiding it has become central to the international development agenda. In pursuing the prime purpose of our international development effort—the elimination of poverty—we in this country help address the potential causes of conflict and strengthen countries' individual capacities to counter terrorism. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, that it is very important to do that at a practical level. For example, we help countries to improve the effectiveness of their administrative systems. We support legal and judicial reform. We assist in the development of accountable and democratic government and transparent financial and commercial systems. We promote the will and capacity to crack down on corruption. Helping countries stamp out money laundering supports their efforts to combat corruption, organised crime and the drugs trade and helps them contribute to the fight against terrorism. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, is right—where there is conflict, we can support institutions set up to encourage power sharing, inclusiveness and moderation. We support security sector reform in recognition of the devastating role that unaccountable and repressive security services can play in fostering conflict and inhibiting development.

An example of that is the work we have undertaken in Indonesia, a country of 200 million people, 300 ethnic groups, 350 languages and many problems with poverty and exploitation. Our aid programme focuses on three areas: policy formulation and budgetary management which benefits the poor; governance reforms; and forest management for the benefit of forest communities. It includes support for a policy dialogue on security service reform, parliamentary oversight of defence, law enforcement, budget management, a strategic defence review and a democratic framework to police what is happening.

I refer to what is happening in transforming Sierra Leone. Our training there has constituted a vital part of our effort. We have achieved much with our own military resources. British short-term training teams provided basic infantry training to some 10,000 men. We are now continuing to provide training, support and advice through the UK-led International Military Advisory and Training Team.

In the year 2000-01, DfID committed more than £26 million to projects and programmes whose principal aim was conflict reduction and over £272 million was committed to projects and programmes whose principal aim was to improve the quality of governance in developing countries. I hope that that gives an illustration of the real commitment that exists to building up those institutions. Improving the quality of governance has been a significant objective—alongside other objectives—of over half DfID's bilateral spending commitments in the past year. NGOs play an important part in that. Total expenditure through UK civil society organisations in 2000-01 was £184 million, the largest sums being sent to the British Red Cross, Care International UK, Oxfam, Save the Children Fund and the VSO.

Faced with the obvious threat which terrorism poses to our way of life since September 11th, we have also redoubled our efforts to deal with terrorism head on. We can all take pride in the part that Britain played, alongside the United States and our other allies, in the international coalition against the Al'Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan. We can take pride in what has been achieved: severe damage to the terrorist networks and the liberation of the Afghan people from that very brutal regime. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, that we remain committed to Afghanistan for the long term, including through our development and reconstruction efforts. British troops are leading the early phase of the international stability assistance force which is providing such an important element of security for the fledgling civilian government.

We are also fully engaged in the international community's efforts to thwart terrorism more generally. We have been working with our colleagues in the G8 on ways of cutting off terrorist financing, strengthening aviation security and enhancing co-operation on intelligence and security matters. In the EU, we have agreed to create a European arrest warrant, a common EU definition of terrorism and a specialist anti-terrorist team in Europol.

In the UN, Security Council Resolution 1373 requires all member states to respond to the global terrorist threat, and establishes the Counter-Terrorism Committee to monitor progress towards that goal. The fact that that committee is chaired by Sir Jeremy Greenstock, our Permanent Representative at the UN, is, I believe, in part a recognition of the lead which Britain has long taken internationally on action against terrorism.

Next week at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting—the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, was kind enough to mention that my noble friend Lady Amos, together with my right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State, will represent us at that meeting—we shall strongly support the Commonwealth response to international terrorism.

As for this country, our own anti-terrorist legislation means that we have already complied with many of the obligations of Resolution 1373. We are one of the few states to have ratified and implemented all 12 of the international anti-terrorist conventions. We are looking again at what we can do in terms of having the right forces and the right capabilities to meet the additional challenges we face from international terrorism as regards what our Armed Forces are doing. The noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, referred to the new chapter in the strategic defence review which is indeed very important. We have a string of anti-terrorism legislation in the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act which received Royal Assent last December.

My right honourable friends the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Clare Short have led the international effort to place the reduction of poverty at the core of the international development effort. Since 1997 the UK has increased its official development assistance spending from 0.26 per cent of gross national product to a planned 0.33 per cent in the year 2003-04. We are committed to making substantial additional progress. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, that we are also using our influence internationally to strengthen the global commitment to reduce poverty in every poor country in the world. I assure my noble friend Lord Judd that we put that argument to everyone. We put it as much to our friends in the United States as we do elsewhere.

The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Lord, Lord Judd, were also concerned about debt. The Government have strongly supported the heavily indebted poor countries debt relief initiative which the World Bank and the IMF began in 1996. We have tried to accelerate that initiative. We have pledged over £300 million to the trust fund established to help multilateral institutions provide debt relief and to help the indebted countries. I remind the noble Lords, Lord Bhatia and Lord Judd, of the much firmer arms control policies that we have and the far greater transparency that has been in place on arms exports since 1997.

We should also remember that all countries have signed up to the United Nations millennium development goals. Prime among those is halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. That will enable 1 billion people to free themselves from extreme poverty. But to do that, there will have to be much greater international efforts than are currently being made. By some estimates, the extent of those efforts will have to double; even then, as the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, reminded us, billions will remain in poverty.

Our efforts will not succeed simply by rich countries handing out more money. Success will critically depend on the governments of developing countries adopting accountable and representative forms of governance, combating corruption and upholding the rule of law, and strategies for poverty reduction, which will ensure that their resources are used to the most productive effect.

Success will also depend on development assistance being used as effectively as possible. It should be focused where it has the greatest impact. The noble Lords, Lord Desai and Lord Bhatia, and many others were right to emphasise the importance of the Doha trade round. The globalisation of politics that brought the terrorists to the United States has to be matched by the globalisation of our efforts to eliminate poverty. We must act on the growing understanding that desperate poverty is as morally unacceptable in Africa or Asia as it is in Britain, and it is every bit as dangerous.

Photo of Lord Dahrendorf Lord Dahrendorf Liberal Democrat 7:51 pm, 27th February 2002

My Lords, it remains for me to do three things. The first and most difficult is to resist the temptation to engage in further debate. The second and easiest is to thank all noble Lords who participated in this extremely thoughtful debate. It gave much food for thought; it gave much food for thought for action. I am particularly grateful to the Minister for having responded not only to the analysis that many noble Lords offered but also to the demand for an explanation of government action in this field. The third and relatively easy task, since I am really moving for action rather than Papers, is to beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.