Gordon Brown's speech
Thursday, 6 January, 2005
Here is the full text of the Chancellor Gordon Brown's speech on the international development challenges for 2005:
Let me start this morning in front of this audience brought together by its shared concern for world poverty and for the needs of others by expressing on all our behalfs not only our sorrow at the tragic consequences of the biggest and most devastating earthquake the modern world has ever witnessed but also our shared resolve to do everything in our power to help the victims, to tend the sick, to support the needy and to assist the reconstruction.
Recent days have shown both our shared vulnerabilities and our linked destinies as an earthquake in one continent has left families devastated in every continent.
But humbled first by the power of nature, we have since been humbled by the power of humanity - the awesome power of nature to destroy, the extraordinary power of human compassion to build anew.
For in recent days we have we have witnessed not only an unprecedented demonstration of sympathy but also an unprecedented demonstration of generosity.
More people giving spontaneously than at any time and in any previous appeal.
Young children giving often more than they can afford.
Men and women separated by geography but drawn closer than ever together by a shared determination to help, to care, to heal the wounds.
Individuals in afflicted countries, even when they have been left with so little themselves, selflessly doing so much to help others.
And the true test of the international community will be how we can fund and assist both the immediate day-to-day emergency services needs but also the long-term reconstruction of these countries.
We know that just as we must ensure that all Heavily Indebted Poor Countries get debt relief so they can finance the development of their health and education systems, so too we must ensure that countries affected by the tsunami are not prevented from paying for essential reconstruction because they are having to fund the servicing of their debts.
So, for afflicted countries that request it, we and other Governments are proposing an immediate moratorium on debt repayments.
And just as we are proposing more generally that we widen and deepen multilateral debt relief, we are also proposing 100 per cent multilateral debt write-off for Sri Lanka -- and unilaterally we, Britain, will pay ourselves 10 per cent of that debt write-off.
And depending on the conclusions of the needs assessments, which should now take place, I believe that the G7 and Paris Club must also stand ready to consider all options for further assistance.
And this will be on the agenda for the G7 Finance Ministers meeting - which will be chaired by Britain - at the beginning of February.
Although the scale of last week is unprecedented, tragically natural disasters can befall any country but the capacity of countries to withstand and respond to these events in part reflects the state of the emergency services, health care systems, the basic infrastructure.
And all of these reflect the underlying levels of prosperity and poverty.
Put starkly, countries without adequate warning systems, with less developed health care and sanitation systems, with poorer infrastructure, weaker institutional capacity and fewer resources are more vulnerable during disasters, less able to cope in their aftermath and a minute of devastation can wipe out years of development.
So from new early warning systems to proper healthcare the world will have to do more.
The UN Secretary General this morning has asked for 1 billion more.
And, as a starting point, we welcome the decision by the World Bank to make hundreds of millions of additional resources available for reconstruction.
And we welcome the offer of 1 billion of emergency assistance loans by the IMF to the Maldives, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
And, as Tony Blair, Hilary Benn and I have all said, we - Britain - will do everything we can.
And does not already the response to the massive tidal wave in south east Asia show just how closely and irrevocably bound together today and in our generation are the fortunes of the richest persons in the richest country to the fate of the poorest persons in the poorest country of the world even when they are strangers and have never met?
People who now see that they have the same shared concerns, the same mutual interests, the same common needs and the same linked destinies.
When I delivered the CAFOD lecture a few weeks ago about the economic, social and moral case for us now seeing people we have never met and may never meet in other continents not as strangers but as neighbours, I argued that what impelled us to action where there is need was not just enlightened self interest that recognises and acts upon our interdependence - our dependence each upon the other for our sustenance and our security - but, even more important, a belief in something bigger than ourselves: our shared moral sense that moves human beings even in the most comfortable places to sympathy and solidarity with fellow human beings even in far away places in distress.
And the worldwide demonstration in the last few days not just of sympathy but of support shows that even if we are strangers, separated and dispersed by geography, even if diverse because of race, even if differentiated by wealth and income, even if divided by partisan beliefs and ideology - even as we are different diverse and often divided - we are not and we cannot be moral strangers.
We are one moral universe.
And the shared moral sense common to us all makes us recognise our duty to others.
And it is this moral sense exhibited in the worldwide response to disaster that shows not only what can be done - in Britain alone £76 million raised so far by the British public, after Gift Aid almost £90 million - but also demonstrates what has now to be done - that we address the underlying causes of poverty.
So while 2004 was a year which ended in the horror of a natural disaster, 2005 is a year that can start with the hope of human progress.
2005 is a year of challenge but also a year of opportunity when - from the foundation of hope - we can, I believe, see real change.
A year which is also the year when the UK has special responsibilities as President of the G7 and European Union, a year in which we can tackle not just the terrible and tragic consequences of the tsunami - working together to forge a long term plan for the reconstruction of Asia - but also forge a new 'Marshall Plan' for the entire developing world.
And let me say the urgency and scale of the agenda I am going to propose for debt relief, for new funds for development and for fair trade is now even more pressing given the tragic events of recent days.
It is because I want a world that does not have to choose between emergency disaster relief and addressing the underlying causes of poverty and injustice - between advancing first aid and advancing fundamental change - that the proposals I am putting forward today to advance the interests of all the developing world will - the Government believes - find support in all parts of the world.
In just a few months time, just a few miles from here in Edinburgh, the G8 will meet in Gleneagles to discuss the most important issue of our generation - world poverty.
This year is the year when world leaders will first gather here in Scotland and then in September at the United Nation's Millennium Summit to examine just how much we have to do together if we are to seriously address the scale of poverty round the world today.
We meet because exactly five years ago in New York and in a historic declaration the world signed up to a shared commitment to right the greatest wrongs of our time including: the promise that by 2015 every child would be at school the promise that by 2015 avoidable infant deaths would be prevented the promise that by 2015 poverty would be halved.
In other words promises that rich countries would work with the poor to right the great wrongs of our time.
The Millennium Development Goals were not a casual commitment.
Every world leader signed up.
Every international body signed up.
Almost every single country signed up.
The world in unison accepting the challenge and agreeing the changes necessary to fulfil it - rights and responsibilities accepted by rich and poor alike.
But already, so close to the start of our journey to 2015, it is clear that our destination risks becoming out of reach, receding into the distance.
The first commitment to be met is that by next year the gap between the chances for girls and boys in primary and secondary education would be closed.
But we know already that not only are the vast majority - 60 per cent - of developing countries unlikely to meet the target but most of these are, on present trends, unlikely to achieve this gender equality for girls even by 2015.
And we know one stark fact that underlines this failure: not only are 70 million girls and 40 million boys of school age not going to school today but today and every day until we act 30,000 children will suffer and 30,000 children will die from avoidable diseases.
At best on present progress in sub Saharan Africa: * primary education for all - the right to education so everyone can help themselves - will be delivered not in 2015 but 2130 -- that is 115 years late; * the halving of poverty - the right to prosper so each and every individual can fulfil their potential - not by 2-0-1-5 but by 2-1-5-0 -- that is 135 years late; and * the elimination of avoidable infant deaths - the right to a healthy life so all have the opportunity to make the most of their abilities - not by 2015 but by 2165 -- that is 150 years late.
For decades Africa and the developing world has been told to be patient.
To those who say Africa should remain patient, the reply now comes from Africa: 150 years is too long to be patient.
150 years is too long to wait for justice.
150 years is too long to wait when infants are dying while the rest of the world has the medicines to heal them.
150 years is too long to wait when a promise should be redeemed, when the bond of trust should be honoured now, in this decade.
In 1948, with much of Europe still in a state of ruins, the American Secretary of State General Marshall proposed, for his generation, the most ambitious plan for social and economic reconstruction.
Marshall's starting point was a strategic and military threat but he quickly understood the underlying problems were social and economic.
Marshall's initial focus was the devastation wrought in one or two of the poorest countries but he rapidly realised his plan should be an offer to all poor countries in the neighbourhood.
Marshall started with a narrow view of aid needed for an emergency but quickly came to the conclusion that his plan had to tackle the underlying causes of poverty and deprivation.
Marshall's early thoughts were for small sums of money in emergency aid but very soon his searching analysis brought him to the conclusion that a historic offer of unprecedented sums of money was required.
He announced that America would contribute an unparalleled 1 per cent of its national income.
He said that his task was nothing less than to fight hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.
His Treasury Secretary argued that prosperity like peace was indivisible, that it could not be achieved in one country at the expense of others but had to be spread throughout the world and that prosperity to be sustained had to be shared.
And Marshall's plan - and the unparalleled transfer of resources - not only made possible the reconstruction of Europe but the renewal of world trade and generation of prosperity for both these continents.
And I believe today's profound challenges call, even in a different world, for a similar shared response: comprehensive, inclusive, an assault on the underlying causes of poverty, with unprecedented support on offer from the richest countries.
I believe in 2005 we have a once in a generation opportunity to deliver for our times a modern Marshall Plan for the developing world -- a new deal between the richest countries and the poorest countries but one in which the developing countries are not supplicants but partners.
And as we advance towards the G7 Finance Minister's meeting next month and the Heads of Government meeting chaired by Tony Blair in July, our Government calls on all countries to join with us in agreeing the three essential elements of a 2005 development plan for a new deal: first, that we take the final historic step in delivering full debt relief for the debt burdened countries; second, that we deliver the first world trade round in history that benefits the poorest countries and ensures they have the capacity to benefit from new trade; and third - alongside declaring timetables on increasing development aid to 0.
7 per cent of national income - that we implement a new international finance facility to offer immediate, predictable, long term aid for investment and development -- building on commitments by individual governments, leveraging in additional funds from the international capital markets, raising an additional 50 billions a year each year for the next ten years, effectively doubling aid to halve poverty.
I make this proposal for a new deal between developed and developing countries because as we meet here today - at the start of 2005 - I am aware not only of the pressures for emergency aid but that the promises we all made five years ago will forever remain unfulfilled unless we act together and act now.
So 2005 is a year of challenge.
A testing time as to whether the world can not only provide the emergency aid that is needed now to help the millions affected by the Asian crisis but whether we can wake up to the tragedy of global poverty and all its implications.
Whether we can finally live up to the scale of the promises made.
Whether we can come together as never before to fashion a new relationship between rich and poor countries and peoples.
Later this month there will be a special report - the UN Millennium Project Report on poverty - which will provide devastating evidence on the scale of poverty and how far we have still to go.
Next month under UK chairmanship the G7 Finance Ministers meet to examine what the G7 can do on debt and finance for development.
In March there will be a personal report by Kofi Annan on world poverty -- and the publication of the recommendations of the Africa Commission.
In April then June special meetings of G7 Finance Ministers will prepare a final paper on debt and development.
In July Britain plays a special role hosting the G8 summit in Gleneagles.
Leading to in September the UN Millennium Summit.
And then it is only a few weeks before December in Hong Kong the world trade talks - what was intended to be the development round for trade - resolving the other great development issue of our time.
And with the public reaction to the tsunami showing the mood of the British people, I believe this support is growing wider and deeper with already in 'Making Poverty History' more than a hundred aid, development, and trade organisations and anti poverty organisations coming together in demonstrations, campaigns, petitions - in challenging Government to make poverty the issue of the year.
Let me just summarise what I believe can be achieved by our Marshall Plan proposal...that as developing countries devise poverty reduction plans, expand their own development, investment and trade, tackle corruption and demonstrate transparency, we the richest countries ensure justice by taking this year, now, urgently, three vital steps.
First on debt relief, let us in 2005 make a historic offer that finally removes the burden of decades old debts that today prevent the poorest countries ever escaping poverty and leading their own economic development.
Whereas in 1997 just one country was going to receive debt relief, today 27 countries are benefiting with 70 billion of unpayable debt being written off, and 37 countries are now potentially eligible, up to 100 billions of debt relief now possible.
And it is because of debt relief in Uganda that 4 million more children now go to primary school.