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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
95/03/12 REMARKS: VP GORE AT WORLD SUMMIT FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
REMARKS OF VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE
AT THE UN WORLD SUMMIT
FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
MARCH 12, 1995
(Text as delivered)
Mr. President, Your Excellencies, Mr. Secretary General, Ladies and
Gentlemen. It is an honor to represent President Clinton and the
American people at this important summit meeting. I wish to begin by
thanking our Danish hosts for their skill and their great hospitality.
At a time of great opportunity and yet considerable uncertainty within
the international community, we welcome this occasion to address issues
that are common to all nations and to all peoples.
A century notable for its turmoil and suffering is drawing to an end.
Looking at its many tragedies, it would be understandable to view the
future with some cynicism. My country, however, as always, retains its
We believe in a world organized by law rather than by violence; we
believe in a world based on justice; we believe in the defeat of
intolerance by the steady ascendancy of our common humanity. We believe
above all in freedom -- political and spiritual freedom -- as a
birthright of humankind, and freedom from want as a goal by which we
measure the quality of our civilization.
Are these hopes impractical? On the contrary. Over time they have
emerged with ever greater clarity as the common aspiration of humankind.
It seems to me, in fact, that this series of great UN global conferences
represents an effort by the entire world to think through the principles
and the practical requirements for the creation of that kind of world.
These meetings -- most recently in Rio, Vienna, Cairo, Copenhagen, and
in the fall, Beijing -- have focused on a set of interlocking questions.
What is the proper relationship between human civilization and the
earth's environment? What can be done to create just societies that
nurture the human spirit and protect human rights? What can be done by
democratic means to protect our world from the consequences of rapid and
destabilizing population growth and create instead an equitable pattern
of sustainable development? What can be done to lift the poorest of our
citizens into productive lives? What can be done to remove the barriers
now blocking the full empowerment of women throughout the world?
These gatherings are town meeting of the globe where individual citizens
non-governmental organizations, and governments are working together to
hammer out a new consensus on the nature of the challenges we face and
how we can rise to meet them successfully.
We have gathered here to deal with the issues of poverty, disability,
unemployment, and social disintegration. These problems exist in
varying degrees in all countries represented here, including certainly
my own country. The numbers that characterize these problems are
staggering: one billion people live in absolute poverty without access
to clean water, proper sanitation, or decent nutrition; 30 percent of
the global labor force is now unemployed or underemployed; in what has
been called the worst employment crisis since the Great Depression of
the 1930s: one billion people have daily incomes totaling less than one
But as the novelist Arthur Koestler once said, statistics do not bleed.
Numbers do not capture the anguish of homeless children roaming the
streets of otherwise prosperous and bustling cities. They don't capture
the grief of a parent whose child has starved to death or died of
disease during the horrific events in Rwanda. Nor do they capture the
bleak despair of a homeless women, curling up to sleep over a steam
grate in Washington, DC, blocks from the White House.
These are personal tragedies, but each results in part from our failure
as a human family to feel and understand our connections to one another,
and our failure to appreciate the opportunity every person should have
to contribute to and enrich our common future.
Economic growth cannot be sustained over time unless a proper portion of
its present fruits are continually invested in the nourishing and
development of human potential. Even Adam Smith always referred to
economics as "human economics." Maybe we should have never abbreviated
the concept. People who are sick, or uneducated, or undernourished, or
unemployed should not be merely the objects of society's guilty
conscience. They should also be seen as the embodiment of unrealized
economic and social potential.
How should we deal with these issues? In my country that question is
presently the subject of an intense political struggle. What is being
tested is whether the United States will turn away from our own most
disadvantaged citizens at home, and whether we will step back from the
front ranks of nations that recognize a bond of shared responsibility
toward men and women elsewhere in the world who are struggling to climb
by their own efforts out of degradation and despair.
I believe that at the end of the day, the United States will not step
back. The Clinton Administration believes that in its commitment to
remain engaged, we have the support of the vast majority of the American
people in both of our major political parties.
The American people know that our future well-being is tied inextricably
to the global economy. And they know that helping to develop the
economics of the developing world, where four out of five people will
live by the year 2000, will be beneficial to our own economy as well.
But, I also believe that is the United States is to move forward, and
remain engaged in the world's effort to meet the objectives of this
Summit, we must find new approaches for new circumstances.
For example, we in the United States have come to recognize that it is
time to abandon our old model for combating poverty at home based on
heavy government intervention through massive bureaucracies.
There was a time when these structure seemed essential to make our
idealism productive. But their size, inflexibility and expense are now
seen as obstacles to the purpose we still pursue.
We are working now to create a more vital relationship between the
government and the people. We cannot succeed if we treat the poor
solely as passive recipients of assistance -- whether for welfare, food
stamps or medical care. We are instead designing an approach that
empowers people to be active partners in the management of their own
fates. We have to find new links to our own people -- with a government
that works better and costs less, and focuses on results.
We have to find ways to transcend old and limiting concepts, and
recognize the value of new ways to promote sustainable development and
social progress for those trapped in poverty -- such as
government/private sector partnerships, technical assistance for
institutional development and policy reform; and support for South-South
partnerships. International institutions also need to adjust themselves
by moving toward greater flexibility and responsiveness to the needs of
the poor. This conference has paid very useful attention tot he UN
system in particular, and I applaud its efforts to focus on the need for
We in the United States have also approached this Summit as an
opportunity for constructive change. Abroad as at home, we know that we
have to redefine the way we fight poverty and transform the relationship
between donors and recipients to a relationship between partners.
It is in that spirit that I am pleased to announce today the United
States "New Partnership Initiative". Under the initiative, the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID) will be channeling
40% of its development assistance through non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), both US-based and indigenous.
The "New Partnerships Initiative" has three main objectives: to empower
small business and entrepreneurs to drive economic growth; to straighten
the role of nongovernmental organizations in development programs, and
to help nations bolster democracy at the local level. All three are
linked by a single idea -- that families and individuals, when given the
power and opportunity to change their lives, will do exactly that.
In discussing ways to improve the struggle against poverty being waged
by governments, I wish to make it clear that my country also believes in
two other central propositions.
First, we believe that permanent gains can occur only if we encourage
free markets and individual initiative. In our view the market system
unlocks a higher fraction of the human potential than any other form of
economic organization, and has the demonstrated potential to create
broadly distributed new wealth.
Second, we believe that economic development can be and must be designed
to be environmentally sustainable. Sustainable economic development
assures that we do not meet today's needs by means that very quickly
exhaust themselves and deliver us back to even more intractable
Finally, ;et me emphasize the importance of one cultural trend that can
speed the day that we see an end to poverty: an increase in the rights
and powers of women, who, as the First Lady of the United States pointed
out here a few days ago, "continue to be marginalized in many
countries." With women making up more than two-thirds of the illiterate
people of the world, investing in the health and education of women and
girls will diminish poverty -- and let me add my voice to those
applauding this Summit for endorsing the principle of equal rights.
The documents you have developed here are part of an emerging grand
design for the common good. Despite the difficulties and severe
challenges ahead, I believe that we are moving together toward a shared
sense of participation in a global civilization, whose bonds, though
voluntary, will be strong enough to hold us together in the face of
those forces which would divide us. Our work is a very significant
contribution to that end, and on behalf of my government, and the people
of the United States, I wish to applaud the work of this Summit and our
commitment to achieve its goals.
The diverse challenges of the post-Cold War period that we take
innovative and dramatically different approaches to achieving US foreign
policy goals. The Clinton Administration's "News Partnerships
Initiative," through the US Agency for International Development
(USAID), will strengthen social, economic and political decision-making
in the developing world where it is most vital -- at the community
level. The "New Partnerships Initiative" is the very opposite of the
old-fashioned model of government -to- government "foreign aid". The
goal is to ensure that the US aid produces results and measurable
improvements in the lives of people. "New Partnerships" has three main
objectives: strengthen the role of nongovernmental organizations in
development programs; empower small business and entrepreneurs to drive
economic growth; and help nations bolster democracy at a local level.
All three are linked by a single idea -- that families and individuals,
when given the power and opportunity to change their lives, will do
exactly that. One over-arching principle guides these efforts --
putting people first. "The New Partnerships Initiative" extends the
Administration's commitment to sustainable development by deepening the
intensive involvement of nongovernmental actors in the development
process. This initiative involvement of nongovernmental actors in the
development process. This initiative will put a special priority on
activities that engage and empower women.
The first component of the initiative will focus on strengthening the
role of nongovernmental organizations, both US and indigenous, that are
tackling these tremendous challenges. USAID will increase the
percentage of its development assistance channeled through these NGOs to
an ultimate target of 40% over the next five years. The US will
undertake with other donors a Developmental Partnership Working Group,
an international effort that will engage bilateral and multilateral
donors and the NGO community. The working group will target ways to
strengthen the capacity of the non-governmental sector in the developing
world. USAID will also use new communications technologies to further
link and empower NGOs around the globe.
The second component will strengthen the role of small business in
partner countries. USAID will work directly with national governments to
improve the laws and regulations to provide increased opportunities for
entrepreneurial activities for the poor. USAID will increase its
training and internship programs between American small businesses and
small businesses in development countries. Increase training and
internship programs. cooperatively between American small businesses and
small business in development countries, in order to encourage the
adoption and transfer to the developing countries of productive
processes, technologies and techniques. Draw on the capacities of US
small businesses to advise and enhance the capacity of small businesses
in partner countries. Use loan guarantees and credit mechanisms to
support small and medium-sized firms in modernizing and improving their
contributions to the economy and society.
The third component if the initiative will encourage the
decentralization of political power to local communities in the
developing world. USAID will work with partner country government,
private sectors and NGOs to expand the authority of local government.
This initiative will enhance the ability of US state and local
government officials to make valuable contributions to sharing their
knowledge and expertise. Strengthening democracy at a community level
will frequently entail fundamental reforms in municipal codes to enhance
local government fiscal and administrative autonomy.
USAID continues to be one of the lead agencies in the National
Performance Review, and the "New Partnerships" initiative is part of the
Administration's continuing commitment to do more with less in the
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