Jo Cox was a life-long humanitarian. She dedicated her career to helping those less fortunate than herself, whether in Batley and Spen or around the world.
To celebrate World Humanitarian Day, we are sharing the story of Jo's twenty-year humanitarian career, her key campaigning highlights and a few of the many issues she cared most deeply about.
After graduating from Cambridge University, Jo headed into the jungles of Borneo for three months as a member of Operation Raleigh to work on conservation projects.
1995 - 2001
The EU and the Arms Trade
While working for Glenys Kinnock, a Member of the European Parliament, Jo campaigned for the EU to establish a new code of conduct for Arms Sales (adopted in 1998). She worked on international trade, joining a delegation to South Africa in 2001.
Oxfam in Brussels
In 2002 Jo set up Oxfam International’s Brussels office and was instrumental in the ‘Make Trade Fair’ campaign aiming to remove unfair tariffs that stopped developing countries from trading with the EU.
Together with Amnesty International, she pushed for a global arms trade treaty, which was eventually adopted in 2014.
Make Poverty History
As Head of Policy Jo worked on Oxfam’s Make Poverty History Campaign - focused on increasing aid, cancelling debt and improving trade for the world’s poorest countries.
At the 2005 World Summit, Jo argued for the international community to agree to a "responsibility to protect" doctrine and intervene when governments fail to stop crimes against their citizens.
For a Safer Tomorrow
As Head of Humanitarian Campaigning at Oxfam in New York, Jo played a key role in the publication of the report “For a Safer Tomorrow” advocating for the protection of civilians around the world.
Maternal Mortality Campaign
Jo went on to become the director of the Maternal Mortality Campaign, working to ensure women are at the heart of the global economic recovery. She campaigned to educate, empower and protect girls and women the world over. She also spent some time working with Save the Children and the NSPCC.
Friends of Syria
In 2015, Jo was elected as Labour MP for Batley & Spen. She set up the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Friends of Syria to help politicians understand the crisis and possible policy options. With Tom Tugendhat MP, Jo started working on the report ‘The Cost of Doing Nothing’ making the case for action to protect civilians from atrocity in conflicts around the world. Jo Cox’s final questions in parliament focused on protecting children in war zones.
12 October 2015
Jo's Speech on Syria
"Every decade or so, the world is tested by a crisis so grave that it breaks the mould: one so horrific and inhumane that the response of politicians to it becomes emblematic of their generation — their moral leadership or cowardice, their resolution or incompetence. It is how history judges us. We have been tested by the Second World War, the genocide in Rwanda and the slaughter in Bosnia, and I believe that Syria is our generation’s test."
Continuing Jo's Humanitarian Legacy
We will always commit to adding value wherever we can on the international issues that Jo cared so much about.In this way we celebrate Jo’s internationalism, her 20-year career in international campaigning and development aid, and her compassion towards the most vulnerable around the world through our work towards a fairer world.
Learn more about our work to build a fairer world
Did you work with or have been inspired by Jo?
Be part of Jo's legacy