Heritage of Global Partnerships & Development

WCIA’s today on Global Learning, Global Action and Global Partnerships builds on a long ‘peace heritage’ of predecessor organisations and movements as far back as the aftermath of World War One, when WCIA’s direct predecessor was the Welsh Leageu of Nations Union – set up to support the first truly internationalist body set up to facilitate peace and cooperation. The tragedy of World War Two though affirmed that any such body needed to be more than just a ‘talking shop’ – and the United Nations that emerged in the aftermath of WW2 was less Euro-centric, with far greater scope and responsibility for pursuing global development and partnerships beyond former Empire powers, laying pathways towards a post-colonial world. International Development as a concept, academic discipline and aid ‘industry’, had its origins in the early 1950s – often credited to a 1949 by US President Harry Truman advocating for a global programme of ‘human development’.

The feature article above offers a narrative overview of Wales’ heritage of international development activity and global partnerships. The purpose of this page is to draw together archival references and curated resources into a central ‘reference point’ for the various organisations and movements who have coordinated work from Wales’ Temple of Peace and WCIA’s predecessor bodies.

International Youth Service (IYS): 1959-1973 and 1973-2020

In 1959, UNA (United Nations Association) started the IYS scheme, primarily focused around supporting UK volunteers to contribute to post-WW2 European Reconctruction. Over a decade, UNA Wales took a leading role UK-wide in organising work camps in Wales for international volunteers, as well as sending Welsh volunteers worldwide on an ever growing programme that included projects contributing to community development across the ‘global south’. From 1973, alongside the founding of WCIA itself, UNA IYS was also established as a standalone charity, inheriting a role that UNA UK in London had decided to deprioritise. It became known as UNA Exchange, and became one of the UK’s leading international volunteering movements long before the ‘voluntourism’ bodies of the 1990s onwards became ‘trendy’. UNA Exchange has always been part of internationa civil society networks, and were a founding member in 1982 of the International Volunteering Alliance (CCIVS) and the European Alliance.

Freedom from Hunger Campaign (FFHC): 1960s-1977 and 1977-97

The FFHC was set up in 1962 at UK level, and the Wales FFHC launched in 1964 at an event in Wales Temple of Peace led by the Duke of Edinburgh. From 1977, the UK FFHC moved its ‘global headquarters’ from London to Wales’ Temple of Peace, from where it was coordinated for twenty years until its winding up in 1997.

UNICEF Wales, 1975-2000

After founding and official opening of the WCIA in 1973, the centre became UNICEF’s ‘agency in Wales’ for coordination of UN Children’s Fund campaigns and fundraising, a role which it continued to perform up to the devolution era of the new millennium.

Dolen Cymru, 1985-present

During the 1979 campaigns across Wales supporting the UN’s International Year of the Child, some fundraising campaigns for schools and health projects in the South African nation of Lesotho initiated a series of exchanges between Welsh and Basutho partners that led to a relationship building between the two nations, that seemed to have many interests in common. Over the course of several years, more and more Welsh organisations and individuals became more directly involved in what were initially UNCEF and FFHC-driven projects. However, the ‘Live Aid’ moment of 1984 catapulted development in Africa to the forefront of public consciousness and interest, and in Wales the question was raised – how can we make a disctinct contribution? The proposal to develop a country to country twinning link with Lesotho was floated, and Dolen Cymru was founded at a meeting in the Temple of Peace in 1985.

Dolen Cymru celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2025, and generations of young people and professionals Wales-wide have participated in formative exchanges between the two nations. Dolen today have their offices in the Temple of Peace, and continue the work of building global partnerships.

Wales International Sector Networks (WISEN), 1997-2006

WCIA had often taken a coordination role among Welsh civil socety networks to support and facilitate global partnerships. During the late 1990s, this was formalised into the creation of WISEN, the Welsh International Sector Networks, which drew together a range of different actors and ‘sectors’ within the movement across Wales:

  • WISEN (Welsh International Sector Network at Temple of Peace)
  • Cynefin y Werin (Common Ground)
  • Cyfanfyd (the Development Education Association for Wales)
  • WOAG (the Wales Overseas Agencies Group)
  • DEC Cymru (the Wales Disasters Emergency Committee)
  • MDGs Task Force coordinated through WCVA, and Welsh Civil Society MDGs Report 2010
  • Make Poverty History campaign, 2005

Oral History Interview with WISEN Coordinator 2002-8, James Maiden:

International Development Hub and Wales Africa Programmes, 2006-present

The Welsh Government’s ‘Wales for Africa’ programme emerged after devolution, following public pressure over the 2005 Make Poverty History campaign to cultuvate a distinct Welsh contribution to global poverty alleviation. Initially, Wales for Africa funded several individual networks to develop specific projects and programmes – Health Links through NHS Wales, MDGs Task Force and Wales Africa Community Links through WCVA, Fairtrade Wales, and other individual development initatives such as Bees for Development and International Rescue Dogs.

From 2008, the need became apparent for a supportive, coordinating within and across civil society – to ‘network the networks’, cultivate best practice and inform policy – and from 2010 the Wales International Development Hub was established hosted by WCIA at the Temple of Peace, led by Hannah Shepherd.

From 2015, a strategic review of the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa programme led to consolidation of the programmes into Hub Cymru Africa – which continues to lead Wales International Development solidarity and partnership building.