EU trade policy is negatively impacting developing countries as it continues to push for trade agreements which are harmful to the interests of developing countries and those living in poverty.
The SDLP believes EU trade policy must not undermine the aims of existing strategies to which the EU is committed, including the Millennium Development Goals and the Kyoto Protocol.
We're working to build support to maintain but ultimately to increase EU support, aid and fair trade to developing countries.
EU trade policy would also benefit from being made more open and democratic, to include much greater sharing of information and real participation by civil society. This would be made possible under the Lisbon Treaty, which proposes giving the European Parliament an expanded role in shaping EU trade policy.
The SDLP consistently voted against the Iraq war in Westminster and in the European Parliament, mirroring the widespread opposition of the European public to the invasion.
With the withdrawal of British troops now having taken place and the planned withdrawal of US troops by 2011, it is worth asking what alternative outcomes might have been possible had the EU benefited from a well-developed foreign policy position and been able to exert greater influence to counter the US-led approach.
In the Middle East, we want to ensure peace and the protection of human rights securing a peaceful, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
We were commended by Amnesty International and others in 2008 for seizing the initiative in Westminster on cluster bombs. Our motion set out how the British Government was on the wrong side of the negotiations on the draft International Treaty. We called for this to change to achieve an effective ban on these child-killing weapons, whose terrible use negates the ban on landmines.
When Gordon Brown changed the British position, thanks in no small part to the work of the SDLP MPs at Westminster, the negotiations moved to produce the most significant Disarmament Treaty for a decade.
We believe the legacy of the conflict in the North can be of great value in the pursuit of peace elsewhere through sharing of experiences and frameworks for reconciliation. The SDLP has long showed itself to be engaged and active on international affairs. We will continue to profile Northern Ireland as a fitting location for an international facility providing research, advice and expertise on conflict resolution.
The SDLP also hold the Chair in the All Party Group on International Development, and are working towards developing a regional strategy alongside the British and Irish governments, cognissant of the fact that development remains a devolved issue in Westminster. Under the chairmanship of Conall McDevitt MLA, the APG have made unprecedented progress in the development of the strategy, and are seeking to develop a technical assistance programme with a region in Northern Uganda. The group are currently working with OFMDFM at present, and hope to conduct a scoping study later this year.