The Unfinished Global Revolution: The Pursuit of a New International Politics

February 23, 2011


JOANNE MYERS: I'm Joanne Myers, director of Public Affairs Program, and on behalf of the Carnegie Council I'd like to thank you all for joining us.

It is indeed a pleasure to welcome back to New York and to the Carnegie Council, Lord Mark Malloch Brown. In returning to this venue, I am confident that his vast experience will infuse his presentation with an astute analysis of international politics, as he has done so in the past.

This morning Mark will address a topic that has concerned him for some time and has been a theme that has illuminated his career, which is addressing the challenges and the opportunities for international governance in the 21st century.

For some time now, the world's citizens and their governments have been united by social, political, and environmental issues. Today, more than ever, our security and well-being are inextricably linked to those of people everywhere, making it quite clear that no matter how powerful a country is, it cannot tackle such issues as terrorism, financial instability, climate change, and population explosion alone.

In The Unfinished Global Revolution, our guest argues that as the world becomes more integrated, it has also become less governed. From his days at the UN, where he served as the administrator of UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] and as deputy secretary-general and chief of staff to Kofi Annan, to an earlier assignment at the World Bank, Mark has witnessed first-hand the demands of people far and wide who want to have more say and democratic control over their own lives. This has been blatantly clear as demonstrated by recent and ongoing protests in the Middle East.

He writes that "national governments are no longer equipped to address complex global issues that often have roots in domestic concerns and subsequently cannot provide their citizens with a decent life." Consequently, he argues that "as national politicians lose control to impersonal global forces, we will need to reform existing global institutions if we are to sustain our security, stability, and general well-being."

Our speaker has always been a champion for better management of our global affairs. His unique experience, from global activist to senior UN official, has placed him in a position to personally view this changing international landscape and to think about how to address these issues we now face. Accordingly, he argues for a global contract that builds on common values of solidarity and compassion, which in turn will lead to global democracy.

As we listen to his proposals about how to pursue a new international politic so that we can complete this unfinished global revolution, I invite you to join me in giving our speaker a very warm welcome.

Thank you, Mark, for joining us.


MARK MALLOCH BROWN: Joanne, thank you very much. Although you have been my host here on previous occasions, even you won't remember the first time I spoke here. It was at the very beginning of the 1980s about Cambodia and refugees, when I was a young UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] officer who had just come back from serving on the Thai-Cambodian border.

In a very real way, Carnegie has been a place I've come to at each step, by this point, of a rather long journey towards my real personal commitment—or at least the organizing principle of my career—which has been how do we use the international institutions and international arrangements to make sure that anybody—from young Cambodians driven into exile by the horrific genocides of the Khmer Rouge to a Libyan today—how do we make sure that we offer them a better deal in global society, and above all the human security and protection to save them from the hands of their own ruthless, unelected, undemocratic governments?

In a sense, to be back here, with the events happening in the Middle East, makes a bookend to that first visit when I came to say what was happening in Cambodia and what the world had in many ways missed.

I started to research this book in the brief months that I took just after I had stepped down with Kofi from the UN. I went to Yale and was lucky enough to have a few months in a library with some excellent researchers who quickly told me that if I really wanted to write a book about globalization, I should be very careful, because there were literally thousands of books about globalization, and that the word in the title at least would be a sure way to be remaindered very quickly.

It brought home a profounder point, which was here are these sets of changes at the national and global level that we loosely call "globalization," and yet to most of us, although they are probably the single biggest dynamic and driver of economic, social, and political change in each of our individual lives, this process comes across as hugely impersonal and rather arcane and academic.

This book is much more than just a tract or treatise about how the world should be better managed. It's also my front-row life inside globalization. It's not a book about me, but it's a book about the people I knew who made a difference on this extraordinary journey the world has made over the last 30 years.

I was lucky enough, in the way that when you look over your shoulder and put the pieces back together again, to have had a lucky perch for many of the changes which have built on each other to make the world we live in now.

I grew up in a Britain which was economically falling behind, which during my childhood was overtaken by Germany, France, and other continental powers, in terms of the size of its GDP and economy. Then, as a young journalist, I got to cover the rise of Margaret Thatcher and saw the power of the liberalization that she unleashed on the British economy, and I saw for the first time that countries got second chances.

Despite the fact that I was already probably rather to the left of Margaret Thatcher and a bit shocked about this phenomenon I found myself covering, I was left in awe of her leadership, her success, and her sheer determination and drive. It left me with the feeling, when much later I was to head the UNDP, that I needed to find Margaret Thatchers around the world—not necessarily of that particular political persuasion, but leaders who had a real vision for their country, a democratic mandate to implement it, and the will, skills, and team to get it done. Those were the countries where our development dollars would really work.

But that's to jump ahead, because I went from working with Margaret Thatcher to the Cambodian border as a young refugee officer. I saw there what happens when you don't have democracy, and the appalling way that Cambodia had fallen into the hands of the Khmer Rouge. It led me on to a career advising a lot of new democratic leaders—Cory Aquino in the Philippines, the leaders of eastern Europe after 1989, and Latin American democratic challengers to military regimes.

I saw the importance, the extraordinary human urge for democratic self-government and accountable institutions. I saw it as the counterpart to the economic liberalization that was spreading across the world. It was, in a sense, breaking out of the economic and political shackles that had stultified so many countries for so long.

But after that, one started by the 1990s to see a process which was growing out of this, where economic liberalization was no longer just a national matter, but it was breaking down boundaries between states as we turned into a single global market and as we saw the prescriptions of the World Bank, the IMF [International Monetary Fund], and others demanding that countries remove barriers to trade, and engage in what was at the time called structural adjustment.

These national trends of democratic improvement were not necessarily supported by what was happening at the global level. In many cases the global changes were unintentionally knocking down the new institutions and the new economies of these countries that had gone democratic in the 1980s.

Then I watched the early crises of globalization. I was at the World Bank as a vice president by the time the Mexican crisis happened at the end of 1994, and then again at the World Bank when the Asian financial crisis happened in 1997. There was this idea that you could kind of let rip a free-market globalization, a market-based set of changes with no rules, no regulations, and put democratic countries now in many cases, at great risk and vulnerability to world changes that they had no control or say over.

By the end of the 1990s I had come to understand that it wasn't enough to push for economic reform and democracy at the national level; we had to build cooperative, collaborative structures of managing this new shared global economy and society in a way that democracy reached the global level as well. I saw the early efforts to do that.

As Kofi Annan's development chief, as the administrator of UNDP, I and several of his staff literally went into the proverbial windowless committee room and wrote the MDGs [Millenium Development Goals]. I have spent many a year since wishing I had taken a little bit more time to write them, as I might have made them slightly more inclusive and polished. But they were taken from big UN summits which had established these different goals, and there were certain political parameters that we were working within which prevented us being as explicit about women's reproductive health and the promotion of democracy as we might have wanted. Nevertheless, these goals, clumsy though they are, have become in a sense the first primitive effort of a global society to create a global social safety net.

It is quite astonishing the difference they have made. People always like to point to the terrible continuing poverty in many parts of Africa to suggest that the MDGs have failed. But in fact the principal MDG, the halving of world poverty by 2015 from the baseline of 1990, will have happened, and in many African countries things like universal primary school enrollment will have been achieved. There will have been striking improvements in maternal mortality in many parts of the world, including in some very poor countries.

While it will be a spotty performance, the fact is that the act of establishing goals and of cooperating around their achievement by applying Western and other aid programs to their fulfillment through the vehicle of recipient governments, which really prioritized health and education as the objectives of their development in these years, is a striking, early, little-noticed effort of the world working together in a collaborative way.

I describe in the book how the real ambitions of the MDGs fall short of what many of us might have hoped for because they are a little bit of an orphan out there as a first effort to cooperate around reducing global poverty. They might have led to much more formal arrangements, and there were lots of efforts to do it—the UN summits, a big G8 meeting at Gleneagles—but time after time, the world's security interests got in the way.

Kofi Annan and I went to the G8 Gleneagles Summit in 2005. Literally, as we left London to fly up to Scotland for the Summit, a terrible act of terrorism happened in London, which blew in some ways the Summit off-course. It was a proxy for what had happened in 2001 with the attack on the World Trade Center, and a proxy for the events around the Iraq war in 2003. Every time we tried to move forward with this collaborative social-economic agenda of working as one global society in trying to address its worst ills, national and global security had a horrible way of intruding in ways which undermined that effort. But it shouldn't really, because in the same way that we needed a social safety net, the events in Libya this week remind us again that we need global security arrangements.

The UN Security Council yesterday condemned 15-0 what was going on in Libya, and, even more strikingly, the Arab League, which is not usually the most prompt or outspoken at moments like this, similarly condemned what happened and suspended Libya from attending its meetings until things were restored to normal. But these are very small steps. They are no more than an unnoticed slap on the wrist for a ruler like Colonel Qaddafi, who is with his back to the wall fighting for his political survival.

At the United Nations things have been developed to deal with that. There is the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect. The fact that Colonel Qaddafi's own ambassadors in the United States in defecting have used the term "genocide" to describe what is now happening in Tripoli and other parts of the country, inevitably brings the debate into that territory: Is this a situation where the outside world must engage before more lives are lost?

But the tools of engagement are extremely limited. After what happened in Iraq, any interest in an armed intervention is probably gone for quite a long time to come.

What are the other weapons, in terms of sanctions and other actions, which can bring a regime like this back into appropriate behavior towards its own citizens before too many lives are lost? That's a debate we will hear over the coming days and weeks.

Perhaps things will move on, because the one thing I argue very much in my book is that it is in moments of crisis when global arrangements take the jump forward, and then, as things return to normal and crisis recedes, we are very quickly left back where we started, with no real political will to change things.

Let me give an example. I was lucky enough to be Gordon Brown's G20 envoy as a member of his government and cabinet in 2008-09, at the time of the financial crisis. I was dispatched around the world to try and get the G20 countries to come to the summit we held in London in April 2009, with commitments to an emergency fire-fighting fund that we could use to stabilize the economies where there was a huge risk and a real systemic threat of major default by countries as well as by companies within the financial sector.

Leaders came to that summit with that rare sense that this was not a summit where they would try and spend their time ducking photographers if they had a glass of champagne in their hands or would leave their officials to draft communiqués that would be forgotten as soon as the ink was dry. They had a sense that if they didn't go home with a rescue package they'd agreed to, the markets would punish them ruthlessly and the electorate would not be long after.

There was a rare moment when as the run-up to the summit came, President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel the day before the summit started, gave an extraordinary press conference where they laid out their demands in terms of the supervision of hedge funds and the changes that needed to be made in the Anglo-Saxon economic model as they saw it. There were fears that the summit might break up in discord.

For me this was fantastic, because it meant that real politics had come to summiteering, that this was no longer something to be run by officials while tired ministers and heads of government tried to stay awake at the conference table and through long dinners. Suddenly, we had real politicians haggling and bargaining about real issues that affected the survival of their governments and their economies.

Real progress was made. There was agreement on rescue arrangements, and an agreement on an ambitious agenda for reform of the governance of the international financial system.

But we were too successful for our own good, because the global economy stabilized, many parts of it did not fall into the recession that we had expected, and the will to act dissipated as the crisis receded.

A very real lesson of a career of doing this is that the world only moves when there is a real sense at its back that if it doesn't there will be a huge cost, financial or human.

This is reflective of the moments and time of the foundation of the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions, in that extraordinary historical period of the mid-1940s, when for Roosevelt there was the prospect of inheriting the role of world policeman after the war. He and Truman in designing the United Nations had a level of ambition which we have not seen equaled on the international front since then.

It was always an ambition rooted not just in idealism. It was very much around how does the U.S. burden-share the problems of world security and world development; how did it see the reconstruction of war-torn Europe at a cost that was affordable to it; but, more importantly, as future wars broke out, how did it make sure that the buck didn't always stop in Washington, that there were global arrangements for collective security?

It was that very pragmatic view of an international burden-share future post-1945 that led to the United Nations. That dream was quickly extinguished with the Iron Curtain and the division of the world and Europe so quickly thereafter.

It is a vision that is coming back because there is now a new set of countries who find that the same demands are being made of them that were made of the United States in the mid-1940s. If you are a policymaker in Beijing, Delhi, Brazil, or even South Africa, you find yourself being expected to undertake your share of at least regional, and in some cases global, security issues.

Even China, the most successful of all these economies, is just not ready for that role. It's consumed by the internal challenges of development that it still faces. It's willing to share the role of global security, but it's not ready to find itself as co-policeman with the United States, or in some cases expected to lead.

You have a whole new set of countries which see an interest in renewed and strengthened international institutions. This is one reason why we will see a recommitment and re-engagement by these kinds of countries and why Security Council reform is so important.

The second reason that we will see this is that we are living now, as the events of the Arab world so clearly remind us, in an era of astonishing elevated risk. We've been through various phases of the financial risk crisis, which culminated, first, in the almost suspension of global trade towards the end of 2008; then we went from mortgage crisis to counterparty trade crisis, to in 2009-10, sovereign risk crises, as Ireland and other weaker European economies seemed to be on the brink; and we have now gone, as many have pointed out, to geopolitical crisis, with what is happening in the Middle East and the prospect of the impact of much higher petrol prices on the global economy, amongst other things.

We've still not really encountered the last, the fifth risk, which is the development risk. It's about a world of limits. It's about a world where natural resources are no longer abundant, where we are starting to see stress on water resources in very successful economic areas like India and China, where we've seen from weather the failure of both the Chinese wheat crop this year in significant part but also major wheat crop failure in Russia.

We're starting to see this reflected in much higher food prices, which I do not think is a temporary phenomenon but a much more long-run one. We are seeing it in the extraordinary propensity for environmental crises in Asia, where now 80-90 percent of natural disasters every year are in Asia, because of heavy overpopulation in geologically poor locations with vulnerability to earthquakes, floods, and droughts, which are increasing at dramatic rates.

We are seeing a world which is pushing up against the limits of its resources and its capacity to live life the way it's living it. It seems impossible, despite the near-moribund climate change negotiations, that this can be solved without global deals on life styles, resource consumption, and how we share the finite amount of resources that the world is endowed with. For these reasons there is a continued push towards a much more collaborative, cooperative world.

Let me just finish by making two points. One is about what this means for nation-states. The second is what it means for the host of new players and stakeholders in this global society—for the activists, the pressure groups, the NGOs, businesses and others.

First, let me say on the nation-state, I don't—and this book doesn't—argue that there's some great kind of global government around the corner. What it's about is how states work more collaboratively together and how they organize themselves practically to address different global issues. It argues that you don't need every state at the table to solve every issue as long as you come back to the United Nations for endorsement of the arrangements that you've made, but that a committee of 192 is not an efficient way of hammering out deals around things that need to happen.

As I see what is happening with the Chinese government and its corporate sector, and indeed many other Asian countries, working in tandem to secure the natural resources that they need for their future, I'm convinced that, far from this being the end of nation-states, they're going to be tougher and fight their corner harder than they have in a very long time. But the whole issue is to steer them into systems and structures where they fight their corner around the negotiating table and not in more violent confrontational formats. Strong, robust international forums where they can hammer out agreements on everything from public health, to natural resources, to financial regulation, is absolutely indispensable as we move forward.

Who will be at the table? The UN does look increasingly dated and jaded, with its primarily intergovernmental format of negotiation and discussion. In the book, I talk about so many of the issues that I have been a part of as an activist over the years. Groups like the International Crisis Group, whose board I'm on, or Refugees International, whose board I used to be on, or Save the Children, or Oxfam, and many others, who are really leading the development of policy around so many issues. Where politicians are involved, it tends to be as often as not, ex-politicians as much as current ones, with one or two countries that are committed.

An example at the moment is at the very time that the Copenhagen-Cancun formal climate change negotiations have slowed so much—even though Cancun was a lot better than Copenhagen—the real progress is on something like Indonesia's forests, which for various climatic and soil reasons, are actually one of the biggest climate change hotspots in the world. If you could arrest the loss of those forests and the way that the exposed soil bakes and sets off climate change processes, this would be one of the biggest things you could do after cutting the emissions of the U.S. and China.

Who has set about doing it? The Indonesian president, against the interests of most of the commercial elite in that country, and therefore much of his own government; the government of Norway; various European climate change foundations; George Soros and one or two others. It is also now supported by the UK, some other governments as well. McKinzey are in there too, and one or two banks. It's an extraordinary coalition of people who are coming to the issue for various commercial, ethical, and values-based reasons, but are finding common ground and combining to move an issue forward which has defied action by bigger, more formal government arenas.

Yet, in time, if they are successful, it will come back to governments and it will be taken to scale by the endorsement of governments as a whole through the United Nations or some such forum.

If you look at human rights and issues of protection, both internal protection but also of refugees and others, or the progress of the International Criminal Court, it is again coalitions of activists supported by like-minded governments who are pushing forward, even at a time that progress in formal global institutions is very difficult to achieve.

I imagine a kind of multi-stakeholder mini-lateralism of the future where people combine to try and sort out these global issues, knowing that at a certain point they probably will have to bring it to the UN, but not constrained or limited to those crusty, formal processes prematurely.

As lots of people come and say "How do we make careers in international affairs?" I increasingly tell people, "Go to a human rights NGO, go to a development NGO, do your years there, and then move into government." In that sense, certainly coming from the European perspective, I see very clearly that it is young people not choosing the traditional national political careers but going into these organizations who are going to make the real difference.

By the way, it's not just people who choose the nonprofit route. One company that made an interesting announcement yesterday is Pepsi, which is headquartered just outside New York City, in White Plains. It has just done a deal with its Mexican farmers to buy and source directly from them, cutting out the middle man. Knowing the health experts and others that Indra Nooyi, the CEO, has gathered around her, you know that this is a fascinating mixture of business self-interest, altruism, and corporate social responsibility. A leadership like that at Pepsi, or for that matter Coke, engages heavily around these issues because it's good for business, but also as global players and global companies, they see that this kind of positioning, commitment, and process on this sort of agenda is critical to their long-term well-being.

The CEOs of both companies frequently are at UN meetings or at meetings like the World Economic Forum. If you closed your eyes and listened to them, it would be hard to tell which is the CEO of Pepsi or Coke and which is the head of UNDP or UNICEF. There is an overlap of messaging, at least in part.

We are moving into a world where a lot of these old arrangements are breaking down. I hope in a deliberately quite short book—because I didn't want it to degenerate into anecdotes about long-dead UN officials that nobody had heard of, or indeed even NGOers and business leaders that people haven't heard of—I've tried to tell the story of the changing way we are managing our national and global affairs in a more accessible and intimate way than those thousands of titles on globalization that I referred to at the beginning.

But a health warning: This is an angry book. It's about a world which needs to change and about a lot of national leaders who have gotten in the way of that change and tried to arrest and prevent it—both elected leaders, and groups who have used violence against America in 2001 and Britain in 2005. It is an appeal for all of us to combine around an ambitious agenda of a better world, but a realistic one. It's rooted in that 1945 vision, not an idealistic pipedream, but how for all our sakes we'd better manage our affairs.

Thank you.

Questions and Answers

QUESTION: Congratulations on having timed the release of your book to coincide with an outbreak of democracy yearning across North Africa and the Middle East. Nobody else knew it was coming. You obviously did.

I wanted to ask you about Security Council reform. Having gotten pretty close to it in 2005 and 2006 as a correspondent, I emerged from that experience a Security Council reform skeptic, basically thinking, not in my lifetime will it ever happen, because even though all countries of the UN agreed that it should happen, the current makeup of the Security Council is about 1945 and not about 2011. When it comes down to making it happen, the other UN reality takes over, and regional rivalries and biases prevent it from ever happening.

Are you as skeptical as I am about it eventually happening?

MARK MALLOCH BROWN: No, I'm not. I slightly regret that Kofi and I spent as much time as we did on the issue in our last two years, because it proved to be an expensive distraction without the result that we had hoped for. But let me just answer it at two levels.

The first is when I joined the British government, nobody thought the G20 was going to be converted from a ministerial gathering to a head-of-government gathering. Within a year it had been. It was converted by the most unlikely champion of global governance, President George W. Bush.

Frankly, this was like Begin going to Egypt. If it had not been President Bush, I'm not sure it would have happened. But he recognized he could not fix what was happening to the global and American economy in late 2008 without getting a set of players around the table who represented in this case 85 percent of global GDP. The old G8 was down to about 50 percent and falling, and they just could not contain the problem. There you saw a piece of international architectural innovation as the unintended consequence of a crisis meeting to save the American economy.

In that sense, I'm afraid to say that the Security Council will need its similar moment. I hope it's not a moment of actual loss of life and war. But it will need a moment when it's quite clear that today's collective security arrangements fail to stand up to the needs of the moment.

In that regard, let me pick up your opening sally. You are quite right that it is the genius of a longstanding international puppeteer to be able to lay on a revolution for his book launch. But you will remember that in 2002 I published the Arab Human Development Report as administrator of UNDP. They caused a hell of a row.

Within the first report's first two weeks of life, a million copies of it had been downloaded in Arabic from the Internet. You could not go anywhere in the Middle East without seeing an Al Jazeera talk-show program about the report, which argued this region is failing dramatically because it has no democracy, it has a deficit of women's rights, it has no decent secular education, and this is leading to massive youth unemployment and to a stagnating political and economic system that cannot last.

Predictably, the great condemners of the book were the Arab League, who had a closed-door ministerial meeting. I was very lucky, as was Rima Khalaf Hunaidi, my assistant administrator for the region, an extraordinary Jordanian-Palestinian woman—we were very lucky to escape official condemnation by the Arab League. We didn't because, even then, a couple of major Arab figures were speaking up on our behalf, either one of whom may still end up president of Egypt, Amr Mussa and Mohamed ElBaradei.

I have been expecting these events for a very long time. But, like every other analyst, when it happens you're completely wrong-footed, because there has been a low probability of political change in the region year after year. The thing about low probabilities and timelines is as time elapses and it doesn't happen, the probability increases just as a mathematical assertion. But you don't quite realize you've reached the point. What certainly none of us saw was the contagion.

My only point in raising that is for how long does the international system accept that a report like that is thought to speak to the truth of the situation in a region, and yet it completely lacks the tools to press the region to address these issues? Both this secretary-general, Kofi Annan, President Bush, Tony Blair—the whole leadership at that time of the non-Arab world was constantly referring to these reports. That is like accepting that our collective security arrangements are to never have any sort of pre-crisis conflict-avoidance dimension and that we must always wait until violence has broken out before the international community can address it.

In that kind of fragile globalized world where we're all rubbing shoulders and where $200-a-barrel oil actually is really consequential for us, is that acceptable? Or are we going to gather our courage and take on Security Council reform again? My view is yes but not yet.

QUESTION: First of all, thank you very much. I really like your very optimistic approach.

I'd like you to relate it to what's happening in the United States these days, and in the American Congress in particular. Here we are, only partially coming out of the financial crisis, all this unemployment, and this tremendous pushback on the U.S. government to cut back everything.

Everybody in the room understands this. If we go away from this room here, a lot of people would not understand the importance of what you were saying. Looking ahead to the next couple of years, what is your take on the American government's ability to play the kind of role that you're calling for in all these global revolutions?

MARK MALLOCH BROWN: All of us outside America, in some despair, feel that America's short-term ability to lead on much of this is heavily impaired by what has happened in American domestic politics.

There was a completely cross-ideological enthusiasm for President Obama's election, much of which lingers on. President Obama would have much better poll numbers in the UK than he does here, for example, because we did look at him as someone who was going to offer leadership again on this agenda, as well as putting America back into a much better position globally.

But I do not despair, because what is happening in Wisconsin today is very related to the lack of global management of these issues. What is at the core of this? It is a jobless recovery and a financial crisis where somehow bankers persuaded the world to socialize their bad debt. I'm being a bit facetious when I put it like that. Let me just tell you in Europe and the UK that latter point is still echoing around the echo chamber of British-European political life much more strongly than it does here.

There is a great sense that a generation of job and income growth has been lost because of what had happened. What is the remedy to it?

At least on the job side, the remedy has got to be balance in the management of the global economy. Often an issue like the imbalances between China and the U.S. in trade and currency terms is seen as an arcane matter for G20 finance ministers. In truth, it hits directly at the well-being of workers in Wisconsin. That is why ultimately national leaders in Washington, whatever their distaste for multilateralism, have to engage to find solutions to these issues, because this is no longer another world of international agreements at the margin. This is jobs and growth at home.

As politicians allow themselves to become more educated in the global interconnectedness of how our global economy is working, it will become a lot easier. A little bit like George Bush and the G20, you could certainly speculate that in some ways it may be easier for Republicans to embrace some of this than Democrats. But it will happen. It's just so against American interest to stay out of the leadership on this agenda, that one way or another it will right itself. How many electoral cycles that takes, one has to see.

QUESTION: Susan Gitelson.

Thank you for your meaty remarks. All of us must have many questions. I would like you, please, to follow up on what you were saying about the Arab Development Report. You were head of the UNDP, you were in the World Bank, so you have enormous experience.

The question is: What happens now? The Tunisians, the Egyptians, one country after another, the frustrated young people have led to the overthrow of governments, and they're all waiting for what you've described—democracy, jobs, a fulfilling life, and so forth.

What would you recommend? Where do we go? It's such a short term for enormous change. What would you suggest should be done globally and locally?

Looking at what's happened in Egypt and Tunisia, one has to say "It's the end of the beginning; now for the hard part." I don't mean that with any disrespect to the extraordinary bravery and explosion of effort by young Egyptian men and women of all ages and classes. If nothing else, it has got Egypt to this point.

You have to then step back and say, "What is Egypt today?" It is a country without a constitution, being ruled by a military that has made promises of transition but hasn't even yet set up an adequate process of dialogue and engagement with the groups who were in Tahrir Square. So the hard part is ahead.

In the book I talk about my experience of working for people like Cory Aquino and Latin American leaders. I'm afraid my fundamental experience is that where you have these outbursts of groups who come together to combine against the evil they know—Marcos in the Philippines, Pinochet in Chile, many other campaigns of that kind that I've worked on—in more cases than others, once they've got rid of the guy they didn't like, the coalition that has come to power tends to break up into its constituent parts.

The coalition is usually business leaders who wanted reform, less patronage, and bad guys around the president interfering in the economy; social activists who wanted different kinds of freedoms; labor unions who wanted better wages for their employees; and various others. That group then has a completely disparate agenda for government when they inherit power. More often than not, the old economic establishment is therefore able to reestablish itself within this new democratic structure. The Philippines was a clear example of that.

There are exceptions—Poland after 1989 had a tough reformist government; Chile in Latin America had a tough reformist government—but the exceptions are less than the majority.

The first thing is we absolutely have to help Egypt and Tunisia and the others keep reform moving and help them quickly develop the kind of secular political debate and party-building that will allow elections that can bring a government to power that is effective. In a place like Libya, where the United States' voice doesn't do very much, the UN and Arab League are going to be key partners in making this happen.

But for all the flagellation here in the United States about Washington at the moment, let me as a European say to you all that the role of Washington in Tunisia, Egypt, and Bahrain, and if it comes to it, in Morocco and Jordan, is absolutely decisive—not with the protesters on the street, but with the regimes in power, in terms of how they reform or, if necessary, how they take their helicopter out in the middle of the night into exile.

It is not an easy one for Washington, because for 30 years it has invested in stability over democracy in this region. I would put my money on President Obama understanding that this is a key moment to refashion America's international relations, but equally in his own State Department and in the Congress you will see voices which are increasingly, as oil goes up, as some of these democratic things get messy, as some of the new democratic leaders say some very unkind things about Israel—as all of that happens, you're going to see an instinct to fall back on less than a democratic outcome in these countries. That would be a tragic missed opportunity.

The real lesson, in a way, of Iran is not 1979 but 1952-53, when the democratic reforms of Mossadegh were reversed, and that's what led to the later Islamic takeover.

QUESTION: I'm Arlette Laurent.

Lord Malloch Brown, you mentioned the Millennium Development Goals. Do you think, in all respect, that there's a disconnect between those goals and what the larger members of the international community are doing, selling arms to African countries or the developing countries in general, which they then use against each other, and then we go in for humanitarian aid? What can you say about that?

MARK MALLOCH BROWN: Obviously the arms trade is a terrible contributor to instability. It's not just Western countries who are big in the arms trade though. It's quite interesting to see the role of South Africa, Brazil, and others with major arms industries, which are building real market share because the kinds of weaponry which are wanted are more low-tech weaponry that some of their industries are producing.

There is no reason why any country shouldn't have properly trained, organized police and militaries. They should be proportionate to the size of the country and the size of the threat it faces. Therefore, it should be, budget-wise, a defensible number that is not ripping away money from health and education for a massive presidential militia to keep an unpopular president in power. In other words, it's not a matter of all or none; it's a matter of a sensible, responsible, democratically accountable defense and police investment that the countries make.

So yes, to the point. But, equally, also acknowledge that many Western countries—and I have to say my own particularly, and now not a government I'm part of—have made a huge effort to keep up their funding for the Millennium Development Goals. It is a striking thing that David Cameron, a Conservative prime minister but a very enlightened, liberal man in every way, has stayed committed to what we in Labour did, which is have 0.7 percent of our GDP going towards development and cooperation.

He is probably the most articulate man I've heard talking about how he as a right-of-center leader does not think the global poor should bear the costs of our economic difficulties in the West. Many of us would love to have him go off to the halls of Congress to deliver that message, because he's very credible on it.

QUESTION: Robert James. I'm a businessman in New York.

First, high on my to-do list for the last couple of years is to meet the guy that wrote the Arab Development Report. That is some report! Very good!

Question: There are examples of dictatorial governments coexisting with a freer capitalist economy. But is it likely, or even possible, for a country that does not have a free economy to have democracy?

MARK MALLOCH BROWN: First, I can only take credit for publishing the Arab Human Development Reports. The writing team—and this is one of the reasons we got away with it—was entirely Arab. It was their criticism of their own region. But as the man publishing it, I got the main political stick as well.

On the other point, it is the case that we've seen a kind of liberal democratic capitalism as the main organizing format of the 1990s. In this decade it's getting more complicated, and we are seeing states in many ways both directing their business sector more than in the past, but also taking a much tougher hand in development.

For example, for those of us who work on Africa, one of our biggest challenges is that the two most successful African economies, in terms of where they started, in meeting the MDGs are Ethiopia and Rwanda. Both of them can be politely described as development-driven societies rather than democratic-driven societies, in the sense that both have elections but neither have allowed as much freedom for those elections as one would want to see. And yet their leaderships have done astonishing jobs in improving the social and economic condition of people.

We are moving into a more muddled age, where you have a country like Russia, which is still a kind of elite-controlled/state-controlled economy but has elections. You are seeing other countries where elections are pretty formulaic and happen every five years, but aren't really allowing a full range of freedoms to develop. Behind it all you are seeing a much more mixed set of economic arrangements than in the past.

I don't think—and perhaps you would expect me to say this—there is a single global standard of what democracy and the market should look like in each country. There is, properly, plenty of space for different countries to follow different routes on this. The key is to get them to respect certain international norms around respect for the rule of law, the human and development rights of their citizens, and allow a diversity of approach to achieve them, but one which shares values and norms.

Thank you very much for your insight and for your optimism.


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