JOANNE MYERS: I'm Joanne Myers, Director of Public Affairs Programs. On behalf of the Carnegie Council, I would like to wish you all a very happy New Year and thank you for joining us as we welcome Ambassador Jones Parry, who is here to discuss "Development Agenda 2006: From Ideas Into Action."
At the dawn of a new century, the issue of development—how to create it and sustain it—undoubtedly remains one of the most daunting challenges facing the international community. In recognition of the need to find solutions for eradicating global poverty and hunger, along with creating more effective ways for distributing aid in developing countries, the United Nations adopted the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs). To some, this may have appeared to be only a very ambitious agenda, but for others it is more than just an acknowledgment that something must be done. It really is about devising a strategy, a plan of action, that promises the poor such essentials as primary education, basic health, and a reversal of AIDS by 2015. It is also about taking the steps needed to ensure that these promises will be turned into concrete action.
Our speaker this morning is here to remind us that these problems are better handled if they can be tackled collectively. As a strong believer in multilateralism, Ambassador Jones Parry believes that the United Nations (UN), because of its unique standing in the world, is the one indispensable organization that should be at work building a global community of shared interests.
Ambassador Jones Parry is not your usual diplomat. As a university student studying theoretical physics, he found that while his studies in science were of interest, the time he spent dabbling in campus politics was even more compelling. Even though he went on to earn a Ph.D. in polymer physics at Cambridge, he decided to pursue a diplomatic career, believing that he could apply the rigors of his scientific training to the challenges of politics. From what I know, he has.
Emyr, I think I may know why you chose this earlier course of study, which in turn became your roadmap for the future, for just as polymerization is a type of chemical reaction in which two or more small molecules are combined to form ever-larger ones, as a diplomat you also are in the process of combining, or bringing together. But in this profession it is a group of people who are convened to form a consensus—or, if you took poetic license, you could say a polymerization. But at the UN, it is to address some of the world's more difficult problems.
Therefore, when you speak about accountable systems and getting delivery of aid money right, I know of no better way to express our respect for your determination and vision than by doing what we will be doing here this morning, and that is to give you our undivided attention.
SIR EMYR JONES PARRY:Joanne, thank you for that introduction. I wish I had said what you said about polymerization. I'll remember that. I promise you.
I want to try to talk this morning about international development and set it not only in the context of what we at the UN decided last year, but also what we need to do this year, and how development fits into everything else we are trying to do. That's my aim, because 2005 was actually a very good year for development. The challenge this year is to make 2006 the year of action on development.
Let me recap, very briefly. You heard the reference to the Millennium Development Goals. From the beginning of last year, the Millennium Development Project produced a sensible analysis of what we need to do to implement the MDGs. The simple messages were:
- Aid works in the right circumstances;
- More of it is needed, and needed more effectively;
- We can't wait for conditions to be perfect—i.e., we need to help countries build up their own institutional capacities, implement their own plans, but we need frontloading of development assistance.
In March 2005, the Commission for Africa published its conclusions, picking up on what the Millennium Project had reported, and going further. It said that the developing countries in Africa and elsewhere have a responsibility to provide accountable and transparent governance, to tackle corruption, to maintain peace, and to have the capacity to do that. In return, the developed world would help Africa by providing the resources directly that were needed, by helping them to build the capacity that they needed to stop conflict, to put in place infrastructure, and move forward.
In March, Kofi Annan presented his report, In Larger Freedom. That set out the prospectus for the summit.
So, what we saw last year was a growing—but, I have to say, fragile—consensus on development, in which both the developed and the developing countries have to take action, the former on aid, the latter on governance, and with agreement on the programs necessary to meet the MDGs. Together, we all need to make sure that security is enhanced, and together we need to facilitate and increase trade.
There was also a certain amount of action last year. In June, under the Luxembourg presidency, the European Union (EU) committed itself to providing an extra $40 billion a year in development assistance by 2010—doubling their contribution to $80 billion. The fifteen member states of the European Union committed themselves, by 2015, to the 0.7 percent target, four having already achieved that, to their credit; for the rest of us, it is the example we should be following.
In July, in Gleneagles, the G8, under United Kingdom presidency, reached an agreement that foresaw that global aid, by 2010, would increase by $50 billion a year, with half of that increase going to Africa. Then, in September, came the follow-up agreement within the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) that the cancellation of debt for those most in need of assistance would amount to $55 billion worth, the debt relief being a crucial element of the whole package on development.
To front-end load the funds that were needed, a number of proposals were floating around. The U.K. had proposed the International Finance Facility (IFF) and supported the French proposals for an airline ticket levy. By the end of September, we had seen a mini-project on the so-called IFF on immunization. That raised $4 billion. The simple effect of that effort being that 5 million children who would otherwise have died in the next ten years now will not die—an example of what you can do by constructive front-end loading.
Those commitments represent the biggest increases in development assistance in forty years.
At the UN summit in September, what we saw was not just a confirmation of resources and commitments already pledged and intended for development purposes, but really a clear contract put in place. Let me emphasize that point. Developing countries would take responsibility for improving governance, tackling corruption, and building their own capacity. For their part, the developed countries would provide additional resources to meet the MDGs and what they represent: reduction of poverty, hunger, child mortality, and maternal mortality, and improvements in health care, education, and environmental sustainability.
Then, crucially, it is for the developing countries individually to put in place policies and commitments that will effect those goals. It is their responsibility to deliver. It is our responsibility, as part of the developed world, to ensure that the assets are there to help them do it. The lead in each country is properly taken by the government of that country, with the rest of us coming in behind to support it.
Just as world leaders agreed to what I think is a seminal pact, if I may call it that, on taking development forward, we have also taken large steps forward on the two pillars of peace and security, and human rights. On the 30th of December, 2005, the Peacebuilding Commission was formally put in place, the details of which were firmly established by a United Nations General Assembly resolution. The vision for that commission, set out in the summit, was to build lasting peace in countries emerging from conflict, to avoid the recidivism which too often occurs, and to try to harness the resources and the support of the international community for these purposes. What we know from experience all around the world is that building peace is actually the most difficult challenge. If you think of Haiti, Burundi, and Guinea-Bissau—all the examples that are out there—the need to build peace and make sure it endures is crucial.
So, I look forward to the Peacebuilding Commission starting its work in the next weeks. Everything is in place to do that, and it is being done in conjunction with the IFF.
We continue to work on the question of human rights and the Human Rights Council, to try to ensure that, collectively, they are much more effective, more efficient at implementing human rights worldwide—two of my colleagues who are working hardest on this subject are here today. Having spent too much time on the norms and the enactment of Conventions, the time has come to do better on implementation—protection of human rights, extension of human rights beyond political rights, and recognition and consolidation of economic and social rights.
The World Summit set out very clearly that people are entitled to expect those rights, and it is the international community's obligation to try to further the application of those rights.
That takes me to the simple three-pillar structure put forward by Kofi Annan: security, political development, and economic prosperity. He was right to argue that development, peace and security, or human rights alone is not enough. They are complementary. Development will never be sustainable without a stable political and economic structure; people will never be able to improve their lifestyles and living conditions unless they also have political rights; and no country will be stable for long if the people have no rights and no opportunities.
We have a vision. We are now trying to implement it. It interweaves the pledges made and the commitments by governments to move forward. But we need, of course, more than agreement on the ideas. What we need to see now is delivery on the ground.
One of the key opportunities for real change was the meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Hong Kong in December, with the prospect to agree on a package that would enable developing countries to trade more liberally throughout the world, with each other as well as with the developed world. Prospects for that event were diminished by the complexity of the issue and by domestic political considerations, particularly regarding agriculture. But in the end, the WTO was able to agree to a substantial duty-free quota and market access system for the least-developed countries. The challenge now is to put in place the rest of the package, which is going to be the most difficult, by definition, and to do that by the end of April. If we can achieve that, then we will have a successful conclusion to the Doha Round by the end of this year.
Let me digress just to talk a little bit about aid and trade. What is clear at the moment, with poverty in many areas of the world at the level that it is, is that aid is fundamental. We can't get away from our responsibility to provide it—not only aid, but lots of it, front-end loaded, to lever countries out of poverty. We stand to lose so much—so many people, so much potential—through lack of health care, education, and so on, if we don't provide aid. A robust, more active partnership between the developed and the developing world is needed, and it's the fundamental way forward. That's one of the key issues for 2006.
But we also need trade. We need developing countries to be on the path to sustainable development, making their own money—money that goes directly to people, to businesses, to governments—so that there can be sustainable economies, and governments with the revenues to fund the kinds of domestic programs that are needed to ensure that these goals continue to be met. That's the essence of sustainable development.
So what are we doing in regard to that? On top of the WTO negotiations, there has been some progress. The figure for migrant remittances sent from the developed to the developing world is often quoted, and I don't need to tell an American audience how important that is as a source of revenue. But we need to facilitate those transfers back home, make sure that they are cheaper, more accessible, and that we keep improving the microcredit environment, so that those without access to bank credit are, in fact, able to build up businesses, to find a market in which to sell their goods.
Finally, we look to the developing country governments to create a stable macroeconomic environment which attracts investment from national and international private-sector companies.
The rights of people, of course, are basic within that. Sustainability also includes environmental practices, and trying to make sure that what we do, over a period of time, protects what we need to protect. That actually puts us all in a position that the environmental aspects, too, are covered. They are not in contradiction, but they do demonstrate how difficult the problems are.
If I may, can I look forward to 2006? We have the significant EU, G8, and IFI pledges for developmental assistance. We have agreement on how the development partnership will work and the other structures that we need to progress toward sustainable stability for developing countries. 2006 needs to see changes delivered on the ground in terms of the MDGs, most of which, of course, have a deadline of 2015. But they also have progressive deadlines, and some of them are much sooner than that. At the moment, without the necessary paradigm shift, many of these goals will not be met until 2150. That's the scale of the change that is necessary.
One of the great miracles of mathematics is compound interest. It is amazing what one can do if one puts money into a project sooner, because we can bring those development targets drastically forward, hopefully to 2015, if we make the investment early.
What we are seeing, I think, is progress. Let me give you a few examples. There is a real prospect that by July of this year polio will be eradicated. We had hiccoughs in 2003 and 2004. I think those hiccoughs are being overcome. Last year the U.K. plugged a $36 million deficit in the funds that were needed to complete the immunization project. When I was a kid in Britain not so long ago, lots of people suffered from polio. The prospect of that disease being eradicated, joining smallpox, is a huge step forward and illustrates what can be done.
Look at countries like Uganda and Thailand and the strides that they have made combatting HIV/AIDS. Other countries need to emulate that and actually tackle those problems. At the same time, what the international community is doing, and what the United States in particular is doing, is massive in terms of the contribution. The lesson is, of course, that we have to do even more.
We always talk about HIV/AIDS. Let me just remind you that little things like malaria and tuberculosis kill huge quantities of people. Measles kills 300,000 children in Africa each year. That is the scale of the diseases that we take for granted and need to tackle.
We need to make progress in education. The Fast-Track Education Initiative is helping to coordinate donor assistance. Things are moving forward. When I look at the eighteen countries that have joined that initiative—Gambia, Yemen, Madagascar, Vietnam, and so on—I see that the prospects for expanding it in 2006 are very promising, and this is encouraging news.
But no matter how much money we put into improving living standards for those in developing countries—nutrition, education, and economic opportunities&dmash;what we can't predict is when the next natural disaster will hit. We can predict some of the human disasters, caused by human action. But 2006 ought to be the year, too, of implementation of disaster relief. We agreed in the end of 2005 to substantial improvements in what is called the Central Emergency Response Fund of the United Nations. What that should do is enable the UN, the next time there is a crisis, to react immediately and deliver resources more effectively and much sooner. When the next tsunami, the next food shortage in the Horn of Africa, or the next earthquake hits—perish the thought in all those cases&dmash;then the prospects will be better for responding much more effectively.
It is also, I hope, the year that we will establish the Human Rights Council. The Peacebuilding Commission, as I said, should be up and running within a few weeks.
One of the keys to improving the effectiveness of development assistance, something that we have been promoting in the United Kingdom nationally and with our OECD partners, is the question of donor harmonization. While it is up to the developing countries to set their own plans and strategies for development, to have ownership of their destinies, it is the responsibility of the donors to provide predictable, long-term assistance with what I would regard as streamlined and less onerous conditionality regimes. Ideally, donors should disburse funds that developing countries can use to fund their own programs. For their part, developing countries shouldn't be subject to micro-conditionality, to micromanagement. But partnership assumes—and we underline this point—that developing countries will have the right mix of policies on governance, macroeconomics, and so on. That is the essence of the deal. What bilateral donors need to do is to improve coordination and cooperation between them so that they, jointly with the country concerned, establish the programs that are needed and make sure that all aspects are covered.
It's not only that we cover all aspects within one country, but also that we do something that is often forgotten: We cope with the neglected country. The problem with the pattern of expenditures is that all too often, especially in terms of humanitarian assistance, some countries become the orphans of the international community. If there is no one to advocate their particular needs, the net result is, as you see in response to some of the pledges made, countries like Niger can end up with 0.1 percent of their requirements actually being met. That cannot be allowed to continue. So there's a need for cooperation among all of us in order to meet fundamental needs.
It also means, I think, better harmonizing the work of the development agencies—agencies in general—because no disaster involves just children, just food, or just development. So 2006 needs to focus more directly on ensuring that we don't waste time and resources on competition and duplication of effort.
Let me come to the role of the United Nations. The UN is a key player, by definition, in promoting development, in encouraging debate on and reform of development mechanisms, and is a stakeholder in many of the mechanisms. The UN pushed forward the establishment of the Central Emergency Response Fund, to which I referred. It is taking lead the responsibility in coping with the tsunami, with the Pakistan earthquake, and so on.
But it is also what the agencies—the UNDP and others—do day in and day out. Significant debates on development assistance took place last year in the General Assembly, and there were responsible resolutions covering remittances, international debt, and climate change. But we also need to strengthen the coordination of humanitarian relief and its effectiveness and speed of delivery—a crucial area where the UN can and must do better.
The UN also needs, in my view, through the various programs, to be a significant disburser of donor funds—delivering the assistance and doing it in a way that also takes account of peacekeeping, peacebuilding needs, and the work on the ground, which takes you straight into what the Peacebuilding Commission should be addressing.
We talk within the UN community too often of revitalization and reform of the institution. But in practical terms, what we saw last year, under the very effective Pakistan chairmanship, was a concerted effort to reform ECOSOC, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. That is important for this year, because we need an ECOSOC which:
- Continues to focus on this work, increasingly to try to harmonize the efforts of the United Nations; and
- Promotes dialogue on the issues that I have referred to, including the relationship with the IFIs (remembering that it is not a question, in my view, of debating so much the governance of the IFIs as it is about making sure that there is full cooperation and coordination with the efforts of the Bretton Woods Institutions, to make sure we are all going in the same direction, with the same goals).
In particular, ECOSOC monitors the performance of both donor and recipient countries, both to make sure that they do what they have said they are going to do, and to prompt them by asking, "Where is your plan to implement the MDGs? What are you doing now that is different? You're going to get these resources. Have you taken the steps to put in place domestic policies that will actually deliver what we all want to see?"
The summit, of course, went further. It emphasized not only the need to improve the delivery mechanisms, but it also invited us to look more fundamentally at how development should be handled. It suggested that we need improved coordination of humanitarian and disaster-relief assistance. It asked us to look at the delivery of development assistance to countries and how that could be done more effectively and in a better, more cooperative fashion, one led by the developing countries themselves. It asked us to look at the whole question of the environment and how it fits into this.
What is crucial now is that, in a panel which I hope the secretary-general will announce in the next days, there will be a fundamental appraisal of the architecture of development, not to tear it up by the roots, but to see how, building on what we have, we can make it more effective; to have a new commitment to structures that will help us deliver what we need to do in the next decade.
2005 was a substantial year for development, in which we took steps to be better placed to tackle poverty, to encourage international development; and now we ought to be looking to the next stage, which is implementation. 2006 needs to be the year when we make real progress on the ground. We have neglected that part too much, the crucial element of delivery. It should be the year of partnership, of a multifaceted approach. That's terrible jargon, but what I mean by that is that we cover not just development, but we also look at peace, security, and human rights, because they are all indissolubly joined, and then we try to complete the tasks that we didn't do last year, especially in relation to trade.
If we can do that, and if we can also learn from the experience of coping with the tragedies of 2005, then we should be better placed all around to cope with what confronts us in the future. It also means looking at the architecture of development to make sure not only that we are more effective, but also that we are addressing tomorrow's challenges and not always looking back at yesterday.
We are now, ladies and gentlemen, ten years from 2015, the rendezvous with implementation of the MDGs. I hope that, in 2015, those of us who will still be here can look back and say that 2005 actually was a watershed.
In 2000, we agreed to the Millennium Goals; we reached global agreement. In the following five years, we have made and, I think, won the case for increased aid for this aggregate, comprehensive approach to development. What we now have to do in the next ten years is demonstrate that we can build on these successes, bring them together, and demonstrate that we have done the job. That is the challenge. The developed and the developing countries, and the international institutions of which we are all members, have that responsibility to ensure that we fulfill our responsibilities to the next generation.
Thank you very much.
Questions and Answers
QUESTION: That was a very compelling and fascinating account of where we are in development. Let me just say that I do think that the British government deserves tremendous praise for the way in which it led the development debate in 2005. It was, I am here to tell you, really under that sort of pressure that my own government [Australia] announced a doubling of its international development assistance. We wouldn't have done that if Tony Blair hadn't been pressing the world in the way he did last year.
But I have to say, Emyr, that one of the things that is most charming about you, of course, is your optimistic spirit and optimistic frame of mind. I just wonder whether some of the evidence available to us in 2005 is quite so compelling. I particularly want to draw attention to the outcome of the WTO in Hong Kong. You spoke of it. It was, in the end, less of a disaster than it threatened to be, but it was a pretty derisory outcome.
At the heart of that remains this very vexed question of agricultural subsidies, where, of course, the United Kingdom is on the side of the angels, but where many others in the European Union are not. As we know—the figures are very clear—between the United States and the European Union, they give $350 billion a year in agricultural subsidies to inefficient farmers. That is the single most distorting economic influence on the global economy. It is, more than anything else, I would say, a retardant to development.
I am not going to say, "So what about that?" I am going to ask you two questions, if I may. The first: What do you think, over the medium term, in the European Union dynamics, the solution to that is? Because it's not even sustainable, of course, for the EU over the next ten years. How can the EU cope with this question?
The second question is an even bigger question. In many ways, I think Hong Kong and the UN summit had a lot in common. They both demonstrated great frailty in the international community, in the negotiating process leading to international outcomes. I wonder whether you would like to comment on the weaknesses that multilateralism generally is facing in these challenging times.
SIR EMYR JONES PARRY: I don't want my remarks to have appeared wholly naïve, because they are not intended to be. There are a lot of people in the aid field who would argue that, in fact, we have been doing this stuff for thirty or forty years, and it hasn't worked, so why come back to the old medicine? I don't believe that. I think the case that the Commission for Africa made is especially clear.
But it is also, I think, abundantly clear in political terms that if now this opportunity is not taken, the governments that are making these efforts to produce these resources will find themselves in difficulty with their own electorates if they can't demonstrate progress. I think that applies to all of us, to varying extents. I don't want to say that this is the last chance for development, in the classic sense. But, certainly, there will be adverse consequences for all this if we don't make it work. So the responsibility on all of us to do that is fundamental.
As far as the WTO is concerned, if what you said about trade had come from Rosemary Bankson behalf of New Zealand, it would have carried more credibility. I am not sure that the Australian approach to funding agriculture is quite as free-market and non-interventionist as New Zealand's is.
I am not going to defend 40 percent of the European Union budget being spent on agriculture. What I will say, of course, is that the EU problems with agriculture are much the same as those of the United States or Japan or a whole raft of countries. I think it is a fact that the level of cotton subsidies in the United States exceeds the gross domestic product of one West African country, 40 percent of whose income comes from cotton. You have to wonder about the economics of that. It is also the case that for Australia, which had a free trade agreement negotiated with the United States, the one product not covered is sugar. Why is sugar not covered? I leave to the audience to think about that and where sugar is produced.
I had a hand in the GATTnegotiations of 1992. I remember that the Japanese government put forward a very eloquent defense of why it was that Thai rice was actually indigestible for the average Japanese, and medically, this was something that should not be encouraged.
Joking aside, the reality is, we have to do better. The EU has committed itself, by 2013, to ending export subsidies. I would have preferred it to be sooner. But we have, in the last five years, done quite well in shifting away from direct subsidies for production and toward income support. That is a trend that must continue.
But the reality is, everybody has to do better. It is not only about access to developed-country markets, it is that developing countries have to do better at promoting trade between themselves and removing their impediments.
In terms of weaknesses of the system, those of us who have labored in the vineyard of the United Nations end up with huge affection for it and appreciation of why it's crucial, but sometimes a sense that when you stop banging your head against the wall, it does feel a bit better. It can be very difficult. But I don't actually have an alternative to offer. The idea that you can have some association of democratic states who would do better is a fantasy. What we have to do is do better with what we have. Of course there are problems in it. But it's surprising, in the end, with a bit of goodwill, what can actually be achieved. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand play a disproportionate part in trying to work with others to produce those outcomes. That is what we have to do rather more of.
QUESTION:You mentioned Kofi Annan's three-pillar program, the prerequisites needed: economic stability, political development, and security. Isn't there the possibility that developing countries need at least another half pillar: a reasonably corruption-free environment? I wonder how serious a problem that is for you in dealing with very poor nations, where there is endemic corruption. How does this interfere with the effectiveness of your getting economic assistance fully delivered?
In dealing with democracies, how do you reassure electorates—particularly ours, which has a low percentage of GDP going to financial aid—that this is a problem that is being dealt with?
SIR EMYR JONES PARRY:I think that's a very fair question. For me, that pillar which is politics—I call it institutions, rule of law—encompasses a raft of crucial things. But if you are going to have investment, you need rule of law. You need a certainty that, apart from anything else, your investment isn't suddenly going to be taken over arbitrarily. You need certainty. You need rights for people. But for that element of the politics which is governance, actually, ending corruption is fundamental.
I could wax lyrical about what rule of law ought to be and the responsibilities of individual countries to make sure that they fulfill all the requirements. The more they do, the more they satisfy the market, and the more the market will help develop their resources and work with them. If they don't, the lesson is that there won't be investment. People will be discouraged from being involved with the country.
Governments like mine try hard to ensure that when they give assistance they don't give it to a particular project; they give it to the country's government, because they trust the government to run its own programs. The only check we apply, ideally, is to say at the end of the year, "What did you do? What are your government accounts showing?"
But if we are going to do that, we need certainty that they have the right policies, that they are not corrupt, and that they are pursuing objectives that we can support. If they don't do that, and if they are corrupt, or if they have policies which are inimical to human rights or to political development, then my government closes the tap, or we put the resources in different places that don't permit the government to keep a handle on it in the way they did.
But a number of my colleagues have gotten into considerable difficulty with their host governments because they have stood up and made statements about corruption. I am happy to say that my ministers have simply said, "That was agreed with us before the statements were made, and we 100 percent agree, because tackling corruption is basic."
But before we throw stones, let's remember that corruption also can be nearer home, and we all have to tackle it.
QUESTION:I don't think you mentioned the United States once. Are we a significant player in terms of how this agenda can be turned around? Is it possible that the best friend of the United States [i.e., the U.K.] could bring more pressure to bear on our president to make sure that our country is a better player?
SIR EMYR JONES PARRY:A small factual correction: I did mention the United States in terms of its contributions to fighting HIV/AIDS, where, actually, the current president has done a great job.
But I didn't focus on France or Germany specifically either. I tried to talk in general terms about the issues as I saw them, giving credit to some developing countries for what they are doing.
Can the United States do better? Yes. Can we all do better? Yes. No question.
The aggregate United States effort is fairly massive. The ODA [Official Development Assistance] contribution is about 0.16 percent to 0.17 percent. That's one-quarter of what the European Union has pledged to try to produce by 2015, which some of us have already done and which the U.K. will do by 2012.
I shy a long distance away from making any comments about the United States while I'm actually working in the United States. So there are some things I don't comment on. But I will do it in general terms and say that there is a case for all of us to rally around the sorts of policies that I'm trying to put forward. Our collective responsibility, and shared interest, in fulfilling our part of these partnerships is fundamental. So if any of us can do better, then I think that is to be encouraged. If that means that the United States comes out and gets more involved in a lot of these issues, I think that would be for the good.
I could talk about the level of agricultural support in this country. We all understand the reason why, historically, the European Union and the United States and Japan have all concentrated on self-sufficiency in agriculture and on looking after people on the land who don't respond to a straight economic model. When nature takes its course, they can have immense difficulties, and governments have to be involved. But the side effects of that and the adverse consequences for a lot of other countries are massive. So the responsibility on all of us to actually tackle that is, I think, very basic.
QUESTION:How can the international community influence individual countries to have a better distribution of resources? For example, in oil-producing countries the revenues usually end up in the hands of a few people, the rulers, and the majority of the population often suffers. There have been examples with Nigeria, where in the oil-producing areas, the local inhabitants don't have sufficient funds to develop themselves.
Since there are many ambassadors attending this lecture and they know the situations in their own countries better than we do, I think it's important for us, collectively, to think about how we can set a higher standard for greater distribution of resources within each country.
SIR EMYR JONES PARRY:Part of the answer to that, of course, is the emphasis which we have seen on ending poverty. Development policy has shifted its focus markedly to tackling poverty. Poverty, by definition, is at the bottom of the pile.
I don't have a simple answer for you. What one is aiming for is an increase in wealth. But then there is the issue of how that wealth is divided. All countries have this problem. Now I will refer to the United States. If you compare the number of billionaires in this country and then look at the situation which became manifest in New Orleans last year, you understand that within the United States there are huge disparities. The fact is, you need policies and governments that are prepared to go in for a certain amount of redistribution.
In the case of New Labourin the United Kingdom, they've had policies with quite a redistributive effect but not really gained much traction with them, because they suspect that out there, in terms of the votes that they're looking for, middle England, if I can call it that, is rather more attracted by creation of wealth and a more liberal approach than by an argument that says we should be looking for redistribution. That's our experience.
How much is that the case for other countries? It is difficult to say. But in terms of some degree of social justice, I think the discussions between donors and recipient countries come back to corruption. If it's clear that funds have been diverted so that those in authority have benefited in a way that they shouldn't, we can stop that.
But actually creating, as is the case in China, lots of wealth through the market, with huge disparities with the rural communities, is something that China must address as part of its policy of implementing the Millennium Development Goals. China has contributed hugely in the past five years to lifting at least 300 million people out of poverty. It's still left with a large number in poverty, but substantial improvements have been made.
QUESTION:I thank you for having mentioned polio, which we hope to eliminate by the end of this year, especially in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where we're having a terrible problem in Indonesia still.
As far as development assistance is concerned, it can't be done without the NGOs, in full partnership, on the ground. For instance, we support every one of the MDGs. We are very active in each one of them.
My question, however, is about the relationship of the about-to-be-formed Human Rights Council with the Security Council. This point seems to be in some contention, especially on the New York Timeseditorial page, where they don't quite see the relationship, and particularly the importance of having the veto countries, the Big Five with the veto, as representatives on that council.
SIR EMYR JONES PARRY:In that question, you put yourself at the heart of some of the debate taking place in the United Nations at the moment. For example, in a discussion yesterday, one of the possibilities in terms of membership on the Human Rights Council would be to disqualify any country against which sanctions were in place. That produces quite a strong reaction in some members of the General Assembly, who say, "Well, that's discriminatory because the Permanent Five would never allow sanctions to be in place against them. Therefore, we are saying that they're exempt from the possibility of being disqualified."
The reality, I think, is that human rights per se and the substantial need to mainstream human rights and to do better in their application is Human Rights Council business, and the way that works with the High Commissioner is up for the council to decide. It also ought to be that country-specific situations are addressed by the Human Rights Council saying that in acute cases we need to see improvements in the following areas, but where the human rights situation is itself an indicator that there is potential conflict or a risk of real instability and perhaps a threat to international peace and security, then that becomes something which is the responsibility of the Security Council. The right, for example, of Louise Arbour,I would argue, to have automatic access to the Security Council if she thinks the situation somewhere necessitates that, and for the Security Council to be more active in looking at rights as an indicator of potential conflict or of a threat to stability, is where our interests would come in. It's a question of merging those.
But the primary responsibility for human rights must be with the Human Rights Council.
QUESTION:Coming from Kenya, I look at this talk as really a practical way of moving forward to implementation. I have two small questions.
The first one concerns harmonization of aid. I think for us in Kenya the biggest problem we have is that everybody comes and wants to give us aid, and it goes in all directions. It is so difficult to know when donors are accountable, when donors are transparent, and when we can really know where we are with the kind of aid we have received. I think harmonization is very critical now. Maybe what we need to do is to look for ways of making sure it is happening.
My second question is not very pleasant. We talk about corruption, but corruption sometimes becomes a way of life. About ten years ago in Kenya, corruption had become so much a part of us that it was called "tea." Tea is that drink that you offer people when they come to your home. Because of that, if a policeman asked somebody to give tea, it meant you were doing something that the society expected you to do, and you gave a bribe. A bribe was tea.
How are we going to create institutions that will be so responsive, so fast, that we can boot out corruption? Are we going to wait until that is done before we can start saying these countries are moving towards good governance, towards accountability, and they are rooting out corruption? I don't want us to wait until 2015, and we are still saying these countries are corrupt.
SIR EMYR JONES PARRY:I can't better you on your account on corruption, so I won't try to.
On harmonization, the problem you identify is so obvious out there. What that means is, firstly, that the government concerned must have the lead responsibility for what happens in its own country; secondly, that donors need to be more concerted and agreed about the principles of how they are going to give aid, the conditionality, the approach; then, thirdly, that they, in practice, coordinate what they're doing to make sure that they cover those aspects in a country that need to be covered, and, crucially, do that with the NGOs.
The NGO responsibility tends to be more humanitarian relief rather than long-term development. But there are many areas, including security, where the contribution of the NGOs can really be quite pivotal as to how governments react, and especially to alert the international community as to what needs to be done, by whom, and, in many cases, that it should be done urgently.
QUESTION:Speaking about distribution of revenue, it's quite obvious. It's a problem in every country, although it varies from one to another. In Laos, we tried to tackle it, but now we don't try anymore. But let us try together to fix it gradually.
My question to you, is about the vulnerable groups, the least developed countries, the small island states, and the landlocked European countries, which form the developing world. I have noted that you forgot about these groups in your presentation. I know that the EU has been very generous through the "Everything But Arms" initiative, which we very much appreciate. The landlocked developing countries also enjoy a lot of support from the EU, including in trade-participation negotiations in the WTO. We, a landlocked developing country, will submit a complete proposal in Geneva during the next session of the negotiating group on trade participation. Our aim is to have the special needs of landlocked developing countries recognized whenever it comes to issues of trade participation.
As I said, the EU has been generous. I would like to ask you how you can persuade other development partners to also be so generous.
SIR EMYR JONES PARRY:The difficulty in this type of thing, of course, is that you obviously can't cover the waterfront. If I didn't cover landlocked countries, I didn't cover small islands either, which have particular problems. So if there's any other group that I inadvertently failed to cover, I just want to say, of course, I intended to speak generally. I want to be quite clear.
All I can say is, I think, in addressing the problems of each country out there, you have to take account of its specificities, its particular circumstances, be it landlocked, be it small island, be it endowed plentifully with undeveloped resources, be it a country with nothing—whatever the circumstances are, you need to try to address them.
As for how we can persuade, I will take notice of that question and say that the European Union will consistently try to be as helpful as it can. I will rely now on exhortation to others to emulate, as ever, the European Union.
QUESTION:My question is about the regional approach to development. I have raised this issue in this forum before. I give my own region as an example: You have Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Ivory Coast. I know that we are all very poor countries. How can we regionalize development to the extent that it will be meaningful?
JOANNE MYERS:Can you please tell us what country you represent?
SIR EMYR JONES PARRY: You put your finger on something which is quite basic. If you look at conflict in West Africa, it's quite clear that conflict respects no boundary. What we saw with the performance of Charles Taylorin Liberia was that he became a contagion to the countries around him and produced more instability. The result is that Sierra Leone suffered desperately; Cote D'Ivoire is suffering.
The fact is that borders are not respected, that there are incursions, that as you drive out people causing difficulty in one state, they end up causing problems in the neighboring states. So they need, in security terms, to have an overall approach, fundamentally. They need, in terms of economic development, to have the same approach.
I was surprised when I went to West Africa almost two years ago that the pattern of movement is worse than it was in colonial times, for the most part. That means that movement between neighboring countries is often more difficult than flying up to Paris or London and back. So, they need to have communication, movement, in order that trade can take place between neighboring developing countries. That's part of the case for development assistance, that you need your investment in infrastructure, because without it you can't tackle those problems.
The need to be able to look more widely beyond one country to the regional effects is obvious, and we really have to do much better.
JOANNE MYERS:Ambassador, I think you raise some very important issues. If you will be here in 2015, we would love to see you, maybe even before.
Thanks very much.