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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BUREAU FOR INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION AFFAIRS
JANUARY 16, 1995
Douglas J. Bennet, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State
for International Organization Affairs
International Development Conference anuary 16, 1995
Thank you. I am pleased to be here among so many friends.
Bob Berg has put together an outstanding program.
President Afwerki has given us insight into the challenges
of a country emerging from conflict into independence. He, and
his people, are emblematic of the new Africa.
Shridath Ramphal, who will follow me, has a profound
understanding of the forces at work in this new world, and the
implications for us if we do or do not adjust accordingly. At
Bretton Woods a year ago, he managed to quote both Lord Byron
and John Lennon; later in this speech I will quote him.
Tomorrow, Brian Atwood will speak. In less than two years,
he has transformed and energized the Agency for International
Development. That sounds like a hard job, but I can tell you--
as a former AID Administrator--that it is a nearly impossible
job, and Brian Atwood has done it. I hope you will welcome him
My own message to you this morning is about reaffirmation
-- Reaffirmation of the principles that have held the
development community together for decades and that have driven
us to toil hard for what we believe in urban slums, remote
villages, refugee camps and--here I speak from recent personal
experience--even in stuffy office buildings.
-- Reaffirmation of faith in the capacity of human beings--
as individuals, communities, and societies--to develop over time
deeper understanding, broader opportunity and greater freedom.
-- Reaffirmation that preventive investments, when well-
planned and vigorously implemented, will pay off in ways that
enrich all our lives.
-- And reaffirmation, by the Clinton Administration, that the
United States of America is committed to the cause of
sustainable development; we will strive to meet the needs of
this generation without compromising or stealing from the
The elections last November did not affect our commitment or
our policies. For the inescapable truth is that American
engagement in the world is not a choice, but an imperative--a
nonpartisan imperative--well understood by the American people.
Consider, for example, the foremost symbol of international
cooperation--the United Nations. If all you listened to were
the pundits and parrots of conventional wisdom, you might think
that most Americans would now be ready to pull the plug on our
participation. In fact, the opposite is true. According to a
recent New York Times poll, seventy-seven percent believe the
United Nations is contributing to world peace. Eighty-nine
percent say the U.S. should cooperate with other countries
through the UN. And fifty-nine percent think we have "a
responsibility to contribute troops to enforce peace plans in
trouble spots around the world when (the UN asks)."
Based on these numbers, it seems that Main Street America is
literally overrun with multilateralists. That does not mean
that most Americans sit up nights thinking about the UN or the
future of free market democracy in Central Africa. But
Americans have developed a deep appreciation over the years of
the concept of burden sharing; we think others should bear some
of the costs and take some of the risks of maintaining world
order. And we understand well by the evidence of our own lives
that the line between "at-home" concerns and "out there" events
has become thoroughly blurred.
In fact, a sizable chunk of the frustration that voters feel
towards national governments--in America and elsewhere--is that
they often seem to be struggling separately and in vain to deal
with problems that by their very nature require international
Thirty years ago, I was a very young AID employee in India,
a country then described by my Indian colleagues as a "basket
case"; we all know where India is today.
Late last year, I was in Malawi where I caught a glimpse of
a new development effort beginning in a very different era--at a
time when strategies are clearer and more proven, when
relationships between the nation and international agencies is
more constructive and less abrasive, and when evidence of
success elsewhere makes some of the intense sacrifices more
palatable in a democratic context. There is every reason today
to believe that the lives of the people of Malawi will gradually
improve; thirty years ago in India we were less sure.
Our focus today must be on future challenges not past
accomplishments. For we have an historic opportunity, in the
words of Secretary of State Christopher, to "build and renew the
lasting relationships, structures and institutions that
advance America's enduring interests," and that will contribute
to a more secure, free and prosperous world.
This is where reinvention comes in. Properly understood,
reinvention is a shared process, not an event. Some has been
done; more needs to be. If we are going to take advantage of
the forces at work in the world, we have to acknowledge them,
then harness them to our purposes.
-- Technology, capital flows and communications have
integrated the world economy;
-- Free markets and democracy have replaced statism and a
global free trading system is in prospect;
-- the economic and demographic center of gravity is
shifting towards what we have traditionally called the less
-- Many poor countries have developed rapidly;
-- Indigenous development capacity is high;
-- The gap between rich and poor remains among and within
-- There is growing consensus on key developmental issues
-- e.g., family planning, debt, structural adjustment.
We all know these facts. But we have barely begun to
incorporate them into our dialogue about development and about
the institutions that are in the development business. The
institutions themselves have facilitated these changes and have
adapted to them (in some cases more than others), but we have
yet to achieve sustainability. Our task is to begin creating a
new and dynamic consensus on problems that will require
multilateral action in the future and to adjust the institutions
To succeed, we must recognize the linkages that exist
between and within societies. We must combine international
partnership with national responsibility. And we must
incorporate the principles of sustainable development into all
that we do: at the UN, at the banks, and in our bilateral and
The upcoming Social Summit in Copenhagen offers us a major
step towards greater consensus. The Clinton Administration will
consider the Summit a success:
-- if it advances the global discussion on how to create more
and better jobs;
-- if it reinforces global resolve to eradicate abject
poverty in the poorest countries by early next century; and
-- if it highlights the need to empower women.
Let me take these three outcomes one at a time.
First, the Social Summit should serve as an information
exchange on successful strategies for creating new and better
jobs. This is one of many areas where the United States has
much to learn from others, just as others have much to learn
from the United States. We will go to Copenhagen with an
enviable record; more than five million new jobs in the last 22
months; and the lowest unemployment rate in four years. But
even if these trends continue, we Americans--like others--are
acutely conscious of the need to extend and broaden the benefits
of economic growth; to encourage individuals to learn new
skills; and to help those who lose one job find another.
Our second goal is eradicating poverty. Here, again, is a
place for reaffirmation, for our commitment is based both on
humanitarian concerns and profound self-interest. Poverty
demoralizes the spirit and saps human strength. It drags down
communities and stifles economic growth. And it provides a
fertile ground for social instability, civil strife and war.
To fight poverty, we must stress the importance of education
and nondiscriminatory access to it. We must strive to improve
health care, provide sanitation and safe drinking water, and
combat infectious and parasitic disease. We must continue our
efforts to close the gap in food production and to combat hunger
and malnutrition. We must constantly exchange information so
that strategies for alleviating poverty that work in one country
or region may be tried in others. And we must maintain and
build on the consensus developed at Cairo to restrain rapid
The Social Summit must be prepared to discuss eradicating
poverty in the poorest countries, but also in all countries. As
the Declaration of Principles of the recently-successful Summit
of the Americas states: "It is politically intolerable and
morally unacceptable that some segments of our populations are
marginalized and do not share fully in the benefits of growth."
The keys to eradicating poverty everywhere lie in universal
access to education; increasing employment opportunities;
equitable access to basic health services; strengthening the
role of women in society; and encouraging productive, high-
performance enterprises, including microenterprises and small
Our third criterion for a successful Social Summit is the
empowerment of women, a theme that has run through
Administration initiatives from the 1993 Vienna Human Rights
Conference to the Cairo Conference on Population last September,
and which will be foremost on our agenda both in Copenhagen and
at the World Conference on Women in Beijing this coming fall.
Ensuring full political and economic participation for women
is in the interest of a host of world objectives--for peace,
prosperity, environmental protection and population
stabilization. Women are global agents of needed changes in all
these areas. Promoting the social, political and economic
rights of women, and expanding our commitment to female
education, child survival and safe motherhood helps to make the
world more stable. The return on these initiatives--in terms of
stability, environmental quality and economic productivity--will
outweigh the costs for generation after generation.
To quote our Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright:
We need to shout from the rooftops the principle that women
are entitled to the full rights and protections of citizenship
in every nation. This is fundamental to sustainable
development. When women have the power and the knowledge to
make their own choices, birth rates decline, environmental
awareness increases, economic opportunity expands and socially
constructive values are more likely to be passed on to the
The Social Summit cannot be viewed in isolation. It is part
of a continuum. In recent years, the world community has
developed robust consensus goals. The UN has provided the
meeting ground on which common political ground has been
established. The Rio Summit, the Children's Summit, Education
for All, the Vienna Conference on Human Rights--all emerged with
charters for concerted international action to address urgent
and unmet global needs. The Social Summit is the next important
opportunity for consensus building.
In the months ahead, we are going to face some important
choices. By "we", I mean all of us--governments, multilateral
institutions, NGO's, the private sector. We must choose how we
will organize ourselves now that the Cold War structure is gone.
Will we have a set of standards and expectations that will bring
us together in shared effort and common hope? Or will we allow
ourselves to be divided, with an ever-narrowing vision and a
focus always on the short term?
I, for one, am looking forward to the coming debate, in the
U.S. Congress and on the broader world stage. I believe, with
Shridath Ramphal, that:
that there is a spirit of human solidarity stirring in the
world; that many are ready to show by example that they care
about their neighbor and recognize that their neighbor now is
everyone on earth; that a younger generation, in particular,
demands to be heard in the cause of their inheritance.
Let us do all we can to summon that spirit of solidarity
forward, and to transform it into a mighty force reaffirming
basic principles, re-inventing institutions, rejecting excuses,
building consensus and embracing the future.
Thank you very much.
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