Launch of the 2003 Human Development Report
Global Launch of the 2003 Human Development Report Government Buildings, Dublin Tuesday, 8th July 2003
Taoiseach, ladies and gentlemen,
I see this as a very important occasion. I see it as the coming of age of our development program, and maybe I can just repeat to you what our policies are all about.
They are grounded on the principles of poverty reduction, partnership, effectiveness and accountability. And can I stress to you the word partnership. Now whether we are training teachers in Uganda, are promoting human rights in ... reconciliation in East Timor, we are doing it in partnership with the local population. And that is why only last week I announced the changing of the name of our department from Ireland Aid to Development Cooperation Ireland.
I think Development Cooperation Ireland, or DCI as it will be known, better reflects that partnership approach to which Ireland is committed. It's the basis of our development relationship with our program countries, with the U.N., the European Union, the many non-governmental organizations, all ... many of them represented here today, whose work we in Ireland support. Many of us here, including the Taoiseach, Bono, my predecessor Liz O'Donnell, and Mary Robinson, I'm delighted to see here, who I accompanied on a number of occasions to Africa when she was President, have witnessed that partnership approach, and have been proud of what we have seen.
I've just returned from Uganda and Tanzania where I saw so many excellent Irish programs…. and when a young child comes out to shake your hand and smiles, because now this village will be a healthier place you realize that this is not about aid. This is about human rights, as Bono has just said. This is their project, they own it. And water is a human right for the people of this village, but far too often it is denied, as is their right to education and to health care. So that is our approach, and I know, Mark, you appreciate that, and you mean that when you say that.
And we will continue to upscale our involvement as partners with Africa in particular as we expand our program. And I want every citizen in Ireland to become familiar with Development Cooperation Ireland, to understand how the Irish public's money is being spent in an effective and accountable way in support of poverty reduction in the world's poorest countries. Last week we launched our new web site, and the address is www.dci.gov.ie. So the Irish public will become familiar with the government's work. These programs are your programs, and they're being implemented by the most amazing people working with local communities. And when you see what's being done in your name, you will be as I am.
We have heard today from the Taoiseach, President Chissano, Mark Malloch Brown and Bono of the need for a real north-south partnership if we are to reach the development goals and all speakers have spoken passionately of what needs to be done. One of the most important initiatives taken by the Irish government over the past four years has been our decision to increase our ODA spending, and to achieve the U.N. target of 0.7 of GNP by 2007. This year we will devote 450 million euro, or nought-point-41 percent of our GNP to Development Cooperation, and it is essential, as far as I'm concerned, that we work right up to 2007 on that mission.
Much has been said and written about the Special Olympics, which Ireland recently hosted. Much has also been said and written in recent times about the cutting edge of the Celtic Tiger, a term I was never really very comfortable with, with ... they say we have a greater selfishness, a care-less attitude, and that this has developed in our society. And yes, while there may be some truth in this, I think we need to remind ourselves of the real volunteerism shown by the tens of thousands of Irish men and women around the Special Olympics event. I have heard from countless of these volunteers just how much they themselves have benefited from this experience.
And Aid to Development Cooperation Ireland, I want to update our approach to volunteerism and find new ways of facilitating more Irish citizens who wish to offer their time or expertise to the developing world. I want volunteerism also to be a two-way exchange, a cultural exchange. Many African students study here in Ireland, with the view to returning home and continuing to contributing to a development of their own economies. I believe we should expand our activities substantially in this area.
Development Cooperation Ireland in the 21st century can not be based on the technologies of an earlier age. And recognizing this reality, I've established an IC task force, and many of the members are here present today, to examine how information and communications technology can be used better to achieve the aims of our Development Cooperation program. How can we share our success story in this area with the developing world? And this task force will report on its finding in October, and I will move quickly on its recommendations. And I appreciate in particular the support of the Taoiseach on this initiative.
We also need to work closely with the broader private sector, not just the IT sector, as we expand our ODA and meet new challenges. With this in mind, I shall shortly set up a Development Cooperation Ireland Private Sector Forum, to see how we can expand our work together. And I am convinced, ladies and gentlemen, that there's a lot of untapped interest and good will in development in the private sector here, and I know many people who are here from that sector, that this ... and this has never been properly mobilized.
Our NGOs will continue to be key partners, not just because of the tremendous work they do in the poorest countries around the world, but also because of their tireless advocacy, and they have helped to keep the development issues on the public agenda and also have helped maintain a high level of public support for the government's development program. The Taoiseach's already acknowledged that the real global partnership which must now be put in place calls for not only for an increase in the level of ODA, but also for a level playing field in the area of trade and investment. This is an area of particular importance to me as a former Trade Minister.
And Ireland as one of the most globalized countries in the world, has benefited greatly from the increase in its national trade and investment flows over the last decade. But the 49 poorest countries in the world don't have an IDA, and they don't have an Enterprise Ireland. And having spent a number of years as Ireland's Trade Minister at the WTO, where we did make progress on market access, on the provision of a legal advice center for developing countries, we now need though to move quickly on building the capacity of the countries to trade. And I will stop talking about assisting the poorest countries to trade, trade out of poverty, as we say, but actually getting down to doing it. The pharmaceutical industry will also have to end its stand off on the question of access to medicines, and the run up to the WTO Cancun meeting, so that we can get on with providing affordable anti-retroviral drugs for those suffering from HIV/AIDS. And I think the initiative that the Taoiseach and Bill Clinton were involved with yesterday will give new momentum to bringing this about.
So in conclusion could I say that, yes, the Human Development Report is about economics, about health, education and other basic human rights. But ultimately it's about people. Men, women and children. It's about the young boy who smiled when water arrived in his village in Uganda. The Human Development Report starkly exposes an unequal world which is morally unacceptable. The Millennium Compact offers an international community a way forward, to take action, to do much more than just talk about it. And I am convinced that the Irish public will strongly support the efforts of the U.N., of donor countries, of developing countries, and of NGOs as we all work to eradicate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
And let me assure you, we will continue to play a strong role in pursuing this agenda at the international level, we will do so with vigor and determination.
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