John Simpson: man with a conscienc
Claire McKenna speaks to the BBC's outspoken world affairs editor about Afghanistan, foreign aid and Health Unlimited
Rio, 1992: excitement mingled with the sultry heat of a Brazilian summer as an unprecedented number of world leaders gathered at an Earth Summit to discuss the future of our planet. John Simpson CBE, BBC world affairs editor, describes the atmosphere at the time: “There was tremendous world excitement, real change in the world at last. There was a feeling that things had reached a critical mass, they were going to do something, they'd got to; how could they walk away now?” But, in an anticlimactic fashion, they turned their backs.
I met John in June 2002 when he spoke at a lecture for the charity Health Unlimited, of which he is patron. He used the example of the Rio Earth Summit to illustrate the familiar scenario where a consensus is reached that something must be done. Then after a series of promises, a whirlwind round of charity appeals and