Launch of the 2003 Human Development Report
Statement by the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern, T.D.Government Buildings, DublinTuesday, 8th July 2003
Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen,
I was delighted to be asked to participate in the global launch of the 2003 Human Development Report. Dublin is twinned with Maputo in the launch of the Report. I am very pleased to cooperate with President Chissano of Mozambique to ensure that the message in this year's report is spread around the world.
Yesterday, together with President Bill Clinton, I launched an important new programme of cooperation between Ireland and the Clinton Foundation, which will, initially, focus on the provision of HIV/AIDS treatment in Mozambique.
I should like firstly to welcome our guests from the UN Development Programme to Dublin. Under the leadership of its Administrator, Mark Malloch Brown, the UNDP is leading the effort of the UN system to deal with the plight of the 1.2 billion people who live on less than $1 per day.
I would also like to welcome former President and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson. Through her passionate commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, Mary Robinson has made a major contribution both to the United Nations and to human development. Bono has also joined us here this morning and he is most welcome. He has been, without doubt, the most vocal advocate on the world stage in the fight against AIDS and poverty on the African continent.
The 2003 Human Development Report focuses on the eight Goals agreed at the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000. The Goals deal with the eradication of poverty and hunger, access to primary education, child mortality, HIV/AIDS and other key development challenges and include specific targets to be achieved by 2015.
I still recall the optimism and the shared sense of commitment, which pervaded the Millennium Summit. The world leaders gathered in New York at the Summit were determined that these common Goals could only be achieved through common action, with the United Nations at the centre of this collective effort.
The 2003 Human Development Report includes many grim statistics. It is a powerful reminder of how unequal our world is, and how for a number of countries, particularly in Africa, the situation is worsening.
Fifty four countries are poorer now than they were in 1990. At the current pace of development, countries in sub Saharan Africa will not reach the Goals for poverty eradication until 2147, and for child mortality until 2167. The figures for AIDS and hunger are heading up, not down, across the continent. In seven countries in Africa, one in five children will not live to see their 5th birthday.
Against this background, we face the shameful fact that Overseas Development Assistance fell during the 1990s, by nearly one third on a per capita basis in sub Saharan Africa. And this was at a time when the rich world became considerably richer. The richest 5% of the world's people now receive 114 times the income of the poorest 5%.
I agree with the Human Development Report's view that if the Goals are to be met, we need to pay particular attention to Goal number 8, which calls for a global partnership for development. And I agree that such a partnership imposes responsibilities on both sides.
The UN World Summit on the Information Society, which is taking place later this year, should help to foster and develop this partnership process. At this Summit, governments, private sector and civil society will develop an international consensus on how formation and communications technology.
should be harnessed to help developing countries. The aim will be to use technology so that peoples' lives are less afflicted by poverty, ill health, or hunger. Information means opportunity and empowerment, and coupled with the right use of technology, it offers a powerful key to improve peoples' circumstances.
Our developing country partners have to focus on promoting democracy, protecting human rights, strengthening the rule of law and implementing sound economic management. If we are to retain public support for the level of ODA necessary to fight extreme poverty, the fight against corruption must be intensified.
On our part, we have to work for a fair world trade order that allows all countries to have a stake in the global economy. Agriculture is of paramount importance to developing countries for their food security, but also in promoting their integration into the world's trading system.
The Doha Development Agenda for the current WTO negotiations provides that special and differential treatment will be an integral element of every aspect of the negotiations on agriculture. The EU has already introduced the 'Everything But Arms' initiative which gives access to the EU market for exports, duty and quota free, for all products, except weapons, from the 48 Least Developed Countries. The EU is also committed, as part of the Doha Development Round, to providing further major market access to developing countries.
The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, which was agreed at the end of June as part of the Mid-term Review, represents a major change in policy which will impact on the WTO negotiations. By providing for flexibility in the EU's negotiating position, the agreement will improve the prospects for agreement on a new round which will be to the benefit of developing countries.
The world's poorest countries will not be able to lift their people out of poverty without significant external help. The World Bank and the UN have estimated that global ODA will have to increase by at least $50 billion per year, if we are to have any chance of meeting the Goals. While this may seem a lot, global arms purchases are expected to reach one trillion or a thousand billion dollars next year.
An immediate financing need arises in the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB which is facing a shortfall of $3 billion over the coming year. I salute the commitment of President Bush to the fight against HIV/AIDS and the US commitment of $ 1billion to the Fund.
I also want to again acknowledge the important role Bono has played in mobilising international political and financial support for the fight against HIV/AIDS, and for his work on trade and debt relief.
It is vital that the EU works to match the US contribution to the Global Fund and to join with the US in the fight against the epidemic. This is an issue which we would like to highlight on the development side during our EU Presidency in 2004. Ireland has already paid €12.9 million to the Global Fund over its first 18 months of operation and we will shortly be bringing this up to €20 million.
One of the most important steps taken by the Government over the past four years has been our decision to increase significantly Ireland's Overseas Development Assistance. Since we committed in 2000 to reaching the UN target of 0.7% of GNP by 2007, our ODA has increased by €250m to €450m in2003, or 0.41% of GNP.
Despite the current more difficult economic circumstances, the Government is committed to further increasing Ireland's ODA and achieving the UN target of 0.7% by 2007. Ireland is currently seventh among international donors in terms of percentage of our GNP allocated to ODA.
In re-dedicating ourselves to the commitments that we have made to promote global trade and investment, and sustainable development, it is crucial also that we re-dedicate ourselves to the international legal order, and especially to the system of mutual guarantees that reside in the Charter of the United Nations.
The security of all states, however powerful, ultimately rests on respect for these guarantees. This has always been a central tenet of Ireland’s approach to international relations.
The international community faces an essential task in the reinforcement and revitalisation of the United Nations system, and the Government intends to play its full part.
There is much valuable data in this report but as with any such cross national comparisons they require careful analysis and interpretation. For example we use a different poverty measure here but we are committed to monitoring relative income poverty. We have in fact asked the ESRI to examine all aspects of why the relative poverty levels remain high despite the substantial improvements in income support arrangements and in employment levels.
Our National Anti Poverty Strategy has been described as an important landmark in Irish social policy because of its understanding of the multidimensional and dynamic nature of poverty, and how tackling poverty and social exclusion was seen by all parts of Government as a collective responsibility. We are determined to continue this work. Particularly we are determined to do so in the context of our social partnership agreements where we have managed to make considerable progress in tackling difficult problems. In the new social partnership agreement Sustaining Progress we have highlighted a number of special initiatives in major policy areas which the Government and the Social Partners believe should be the focus of sustained effort. They include long term unemployment, educational disadvantage, care, and alcohol or drug misuse.
We are also putting the building blocks in place through the work of the CSO and the National Statistics Board so that we will have a collectively agreed national framework for social and equality statistics which delivers a comprehensive picture of Irish society and its diversity.
It is incumbent on us now not to forget all the other countries struggling, as we have had to do, to make their countries work for their citizens. We are doing it through the greatly increased Overseas Development Assistance we provide. We wish also that the example of the social and economic development achieved by Ireland, so long synonymous with poverty and highemigration, will be a source of hope for them.
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