Minister O'Donnell calls on donors to implement development aid pledges.
Liz O'Donnell TD, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs is representing Ireland at the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico. This is the first global meeting to be held jointly by the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation.
The key issue at the Conference is the sharp decline in development aid from rich countries over the past decade.
This fall in aid had taken place at a time when HIV/AIDS has spread rapidly across Africa killing young people and leaving millions of orphans in the care of Governments and NGO's.
Speaking at the Conference, Minister O'Donnell emphasised Ireland's view that rich countries must give development aid not because of security concerns, or self interest, but because it is ethically and morally the right thing to do.
“It would be a shame if the security and economic self interest of rich countries was perceived to replace humanitarianism as the key motivation for development assistance.
We help the poor, the weak and the dispossessed not because they represent a menace or threat to our contented lives. We help them primarily because it is morally and ethically the right thing to do as members of the human family.
More than anything else aid is, and should remain, principally about the vindication of individual human rights. The human capacity and instinct to help a fellow human being in need is what makes us civilised. The retention of that basic humanitarian value in the conduct of human affairs has never been more important to state and affirm. It would be to diminish the legacy of thousands of humanitarians and many decades of development cooperation to allow that motivation to be displaced or downgraded.”
Speaking about the level of development aid, Minister O'Donnell called on rich countries to follow Ireland's example and begin to raise their development aid to meet the UN target. Ireland's development aid is now significantly above the International average and is increasing more rapidly than any other donor.
“Ireland believes that it is time for the donors to take firm steps to implement the long standing commitment to the UN ODA target of 0.7% of GNP.
Ireland made a commitment to the UN Millennium Summit that our ODA would reach the UN target by 2007, and an interim target of 0.45% of GNP by the end of 2002. This has now been reflected in our national budgetary process.
Ireland's ODA will increase by 55% in 2002 to reach 455 million euro, or an estimated 0.45% of GNP. We will reach the UN target by 2007.
I welcome the EU announcement that EU member States will collectively increase their ODA by at least $7billion over the next four years. I also welcome President Bush's announcement that the US will increase US aid by $5billion.
These commitments, while modest in the face of the financial needs of poor countries, show evidence of a new determination to flight poverty and HIV/AIDS.”
Minister O'Donnell also spoke about the issue of debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries:
“Ireland is unconvinced about the adequacy of debt relief, particularly for countries with high HIV/AIDS burdens.”
Ireland called for a new approach to debt relief based on human development indicators, such as health and education, rather than the present purely economic approach based on exports. We would like to see debt relief geared to the achievement of internationally agreed development goals.
“We believe debt relief should be considered in relation to the finance needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This means that human development indicators should be taken more fully into account in the debt relief process.”
Minister O'Donnell also announced that Ireland will contribute an additional 1.5million euro to help poor countries in their efforts to develop their exports, attract investment and participate in the World Trade Organisation.
In addition, Minister O'Donnell will join with Ministers from a number of other countries (including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands and Great Britain) in launching an initiative to establish a new international organisation, (The Agency for International Trade and Cooperation – AITIC), to be established by June 2002 in Geneva – which will provide assistance to the world's poorest countries in defending and promoting their national trade interests in the WTO.
Note for Editors
The International Conference on Financing for Development is the first ever global meeting at Heads of State or Government level to be prepared jointly by the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisations.
The key Conference issue is the level of development assistance form rich countries. In 2001 aid from all donor s was $50billion or an average of 0.22% of GNP. The UN target is 0.7% of GNP. The World Bank has estimated that development aid would have to double to $100billion to make real progress in reducing extreme poverty in poor countries, Ireland's ODA will reach 0.45% of GNP in 2002.
President Bush will address the Conference on 22 March. The Conference which will be chaired by President Fox of Mexico, will also be addressed by the UN Secretary General, the President of France and the Prime Ministers of Canada, Spain and Belgium.