Friday, 22 May 2009

Opening up public contracts is key to building justice around the world

Friday 22 May 2009

A Scots public health expert will today say that transparency of public service contracts and public accountability at all levels is vital to delivering justice for the world’s most vulnerable people.

Professor Allyson Pollock will also demand international action to prioritise health and social issues alongside trade deals.

As one of the key speakers at a conference at the Edinburgh World Justice Festival, Professor Pollock will say public service contracts must be placed in the public domain to allow public scrutiny and ensure accountability for tax payers money.

She said yesterday:
"You can’t have access to justice if you don’t have access to information and data and if you don’t have systems to ensure strong public accountability for decision making at all levels."
International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander is opening the Festival at today’s ‘Building Justice Out of Crisis’ event in the City Chambers Business Centre.

The other speakers are Benedict Southworth, Director of the World Development Movement, and Iain Macwhirter, the Herald and Sunday Herald political columnist and Edinburgh University Rector.

Professor Pollock, Director of the Centre for International Public Health Policy, added:
"The mandate of the WTO and EU is trade, and public health and social welfare are increasingly marginalised in the international policy arena unless they facilitate trade. A new economic movement is required which will put health for all at the centre of policy making."

Mike Kirby, UNISON Scotland convener, is chairing the event, which will focus on the global economic crisis, climate change and how to build a new world order delivering justice and sustainability.

He said:
"The Edinburgh World Justice Festival (EWJF) was inspired by the massive Make Poverty History demonstration and the G8 alternative conference, held in Edinburgh in early July 2005. Four years on we have a backdrop of global economic crisis and the threat of catastrophic runaway climate change. We need to build justice in ways that put people first."

Douglas Alexander said:
"Millions of people in Britain campaigned four years ago to make poverty history, but millions worldwide face a future of poverty if the world fails to tackle climate change. We have to move to a low-carbon future if we’re going to create a better life for all - here and around the world."


Notes for Editors

1. The Building Justice Out of Crisis event takes place on Friday 22 May at Edinburgh City Chambers Business Centre, High Street, from 12.30pm -3.30pm. Douglas Alexander is due to speak at 12.35pm, with a question session at 1pm.

2. Other EWJF highlights include: a European Election hustings, a film by Dalkeith High School pupils on the injustice of climate change; a discussion on Mordechai Vanunu, human rights, arms sales and nuclear disarmament; and a debate on what is needed from the UN Climate Change talks in Copenhagen.

3. Contributing groups include African HIV Policy Network, Amnesty International St. Mark's Group, Bookmarks, Christian Aid, Depletion Scotland, Edinburgh Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Edinburgh Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, Edinburgh Stop The War, Friends of the Earth, Hadeel/Palcraft, HIV Scotland, Impact Aids, Jubilee Scotland, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Sanctuary, Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, Shakti Womens Aid, Stop Climate Chaos, Unison, Waverley Care, World Development Movement.

4. The full programme is at


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