Save the Children under pressure, 100,000 oppose award for Tony Blair

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than 100,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Save the Children revoke its annual Global Legacy Award to former British prime minister Tony Blair, a decision also condemned by many of the international charity's staff. Save the Children's U.S

hidden November 27, 2014 00:45:15 IST
Save the Children under pressure, 100,000 oppose award for Tony Blair

Save the Children under pressure 100000 oppose award for Tony Blair

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than 100,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Save the Children revoke its annual Global Legacy Award to former British prime minister Tony Blair, a decision also condemned by many of the international charity's staff.

Save the Children's U.S. branch, which presented the award in New York last week, said it was made to recognise Blair's role in persuading the G8 group of richest nations to "make poverty history" at the 2005 Gleneagles Summit and getting them to agree to debt relief of $40 billion for the poorest nations.

Staff working for the charity were furious about the award, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday.

An internal letter said the award was not only "morally reprehensible, but also endangers our credibility globally" and within six hours had received nearly 200 signatures, including those of senior regional staff, the Guardian said.

"We consider this award inappropriate and a betrayal to Save the Children's founding principles and values. Management staff in the region were not communicated with nor consulted about the award and were caught by surprise with this decision," the Guardian quoted the letter as saying.

Save the Children UK later issued a statement saying: "In a global organisation like ours of thousands of people, our staff have strong views on a whole range of issues and people, and we respect that diversity of views.”

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, also criticised the award, saying in a tweet that: "Past money for Africa is no justification for now becoming well heeled dictators' p.r. agent."

The British media have repeatedly blasted Blair over his lucrative deal to advise Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on good governance.

Kazakh opposition politicians said human rights and political freedom had deteriorated while Blair was advising the autocratic president, who has led Kazakhstan since 1990.

A statement from Blair's office said the Guardian article "conveniently disregards the facts that support the award".

It said the article "also sought to traduce the reputation of Save the Children, and was neither balanced nor fair", and listed Blair's achievements, including setting up the Department for International Development in 1997 and creating the Africa Governance Initiative which works in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal.

Blair was prime minister from 1997 to 2007 and won parliamentary backing but popular hostility for the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

(Reporting by Katie Nguyen; Editing by Tim Pearce)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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