From Field to Plate...
A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE (Part 36). The following is a continuation of the keynote address given by James D. Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank Group at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, D.C. on March 6, 2002, with the title “A Partnership for Development and Peace”.
Too many countries are being left behind
But some would say, should we wager our resources on success, knowing that there has also been failure? Much of the growth and poverty reduction worldwide over the past twenty years have come in the two giants of the developing world, China and India, with progress too in other parts of East Asia and Latin America. Yet, too many countries are being left behind – especially in Sub Saharan Africa. There has been too much inequity between countries and within countries, too much exclusion, too many wars, and too much internal strife. And now AIDS threatens to reverse many of the gains made over the last 40 years. And these challenges will only grow over the next 30 years, as the global population increases by two billion to eight billion people, with almost the entire increase going to developing countries.
We must look objectively back at the past with humility
As we in the international community – international institutions and bilateral agencies, governments and NGOs – look to the challenge before us, we must also look objectively back at the past, and do so with humility. For too many people, the Cold War years were years when development stalled or even reversed; when leaders became enriched at the expense of their people; when monies were lent for the sake of politics, not development. We have seen failure, yes, and we have seen the effects of the politicization of aid; and we must never forget its corrosive impact.
What we have learned
We have learned that policies imposed from London or Washington will not work. Countries must be in charge of their own development. Policies must be locally owned and locally grown. We have learned that any effort to fight poverty must be comprehensive. There is no magic bullet that alone will slay poverty. But we know too that there are conditions that foster successful development; Education and health programs to build the human capacity of the country; good and clean government; an effective legal and justice system; and a well-organized and supervised financial system. We have learned that corruption, bad policies, and weak governance will make aid ineffective, and that country-led programs to fight corruption can succeed. We have learned that debt-reduction for the most highly indebted poor countries is a crucial element in putting countries back on their feet, and that the funds released can be used effectively for poverty programs.
Investment in people
We have learned that we must focus on the conditions for investment and entrepreneurship, particularly for smaller enterprises and farms. But that is not enough for pro-poor growth: We must also promote investment in people, empowering them to make their own choices. We have learned that development is about the long haul, reaching beyond political cycles or quick fixes – for the surest foundation for long-term change is social consensus for long-term action. These lessons should give us heart, for more than ever today, bilateral and multilateral donors, governments, and civil society are coming together in support of a set of shared principles.
Building on and then replicating successes
More than ever today, a new wind is blowing through the world of development, transforming our potential to make development happen. In this new world, development is not about aid dependence. It is about a chance for developing countries to put in place policies that will enable their economies to grow, to attract private investment, and that will allow governments to invest in their people – promoting aid independence. It is about treating the poor not as objects of charity, but as assets on which we can build a better and safer world. It is about scaling up – moving from individual projects to programs. It is about building on and then replicating successes – for example, in community-driven development and microcredit – where the poor are at the center of the solution, not at the end of a handout. It is about forging a New Partnership between the rich and poor based on mutual interest and mutual support.
A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE (Part 35). The following is a continuation of an abridgment of the keynote address given by James D. Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank Group at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, D.C. on March 6, 2002, with the title “A Partnership for Development and Peace”.
A vision of the road to victory
Last year, at a summit held at the United Nations, more than 140 world leaders agreed to launch a campaign to attack poverty on a number of fronts. Together, we agreed to support the Millennium Development Goals. By 2015, we said, we will:
halve the proportion of people living on less than one dollar a day;
ensure that boys and girls alike complete primary schooling;
eliminate gender disparity at all levels of education;
reduce child mortality by two-thirds;
reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters;
roll-back HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases;
halve the proportion of people without access to safe water;
and develop a global partnership for development.
How could anyone take issue with these goals? How could anyone refuse to stand up and say that for my children and my children’s children, I want that better world?
The facts show that we have made important progress
And yet, there are those who legitimately ask: Can we win a war against poverty? And if we can’t be sure, should we wager our resources? To these people I would ask: Can we afford to lose? How much are we prepared to commit to preserve our children’s future? What is the price we are willing to pay to make progress in our life time toward a better world? And to the doubters I would say: Look at the facts. For the facts show that despite difficulties and setbacks, we have made important progress in the past, and we will make progress in the future.
Over the past 40 years, life expectancy at birth in developing countries has increased by 20 years – about as much as was achieved in all of human history prior to the middle of the 20th century.
Over the past 30 years, illiteracy in the developing world has been cut nearly in half, from 47% to 25% in adults.
Over the past 20 years, the absolute number of people living on less than $1 a day, after rising steadily for the Last 200 years, has for the first time begun to fall, even as the world’s population has grown by 1.6 billion people.
Real progress in real people’s lives
Driving much of this progress has been an acceleration of growth rates in the developing world – more than doubling the income of the average person living in developing countries over the past 35 years. These are not just meaningless statistics. They indicate real progress in real people’s lives:
In Vietnam, where the number of people in poverty has halved over the last 15 years.
In China, where the number of rural poor people fell from 250 million to 34 million in two decades of reform.
In Uganda, where the number of children in primary school has doubled.
In Bangladesh, where dramatic strides have been made to achieve universal primary education – and raised the enrollment of girls in high school to about par with boys, in an environment where girls have for long faced huge barriers.
In Brazil, where the number of AIDS-related deaths have been cut by more than a third.
Or in Ethiopia, where six million people are now benefiting from better education and health services.
These advances have not come by chance. They have come by action: First and foremost action by developing countries themselves, but also from action in partnership with the richer world and with the international institutions, with civil society, and the private sector.
A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE (Part 34). This blog is an abridgment of a speech by James D. Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank Group
A PARTNERSHIP FOR DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
The following is an abridgment of the keynote address given by James D. Wolfensohn at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, D.C. on March 6, 2002.
Unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here at the Woodrow Wilson International Center addressing this event cohosted by the Bretton Woods Committee. Eighty-four years ago in this city, Woodrow Wilson spoke of war and peace to a joint session of Congress. “What we demand” he said, “is that the world be made safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice, and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world. All peoples are partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us.’”
Rarely has there been an issue so vital to long-term peace and security
In two weeks in Monterrey, Mexico, leaders from across the world will meet to discuss financing for Development, when we must all hope that the words of President Wilson will resonate. Rarely has there been an issue so vital to long-term peace and security, and yet so marginalized in domestic politics in most of the rich world. Our challenge, as we go forward to the Monterrey Conference and beyond, is to persuade political leaders why that marginalization must end; why justice must be done to others if it is to be done to us; why “all peoples are partners in this interest.”
We will not win the peace until we redefine the war
Never perhaps has the chance for concerted action been greater, or the prize more worth winning. The horrifying events of September 11th have made this a time of reflection on how to make the world a better and safer place. The international community has already acted strongly, by confronting terrorism directly and increasing security. But those actions by themselves are not enough. We will not create that better and safer world with bombs or brigades alone. We will not win the peace until we have the foresight, the courage, and the political will to redefine the war. We must recognize that – while there is social injustice on a global scale, both between states and within them; while the fight against poverty is barely begun in too many parts of the world; while the link between progress in development and progress toward peace is not recognized – we may win a battle against terror but we will not conclude a war that will yield enduring peace.
Poverty is our greatest long-term challenge
Poverty is our greatest long-term challenge. Grueling, mind-numbing poverty – which snatches hope and opportunity away from young hearts and dreams just when they should take flight and soar.
Poverty – which takes the promise of a whole life ahead and stunts it into a struggle for day-to-day survival. Poverty – which together with its handmaiden, hopelessness, can lead to exclusion, anger, and even conflict. Poverty – which does not itself necessarily lead to violence, but which can provide a breeding ground for the ideas of those who promote conflict and terror.
The imaginary wall fell on September 11
On September 11, the crisis of Afghanistan came to Wall Street, to the Pentagon, and to a field in Pennsylvania. And the imaginary wall that divided the rich world from the poor world came crashing down. Belief in that wall, and in those separate and separated worlds, has for too long allowed us to view as normal a world where less than 20% of the population – the rich countries in which we are today – dominates the world’s wealth and resources and takes 80% of its dollar income. Belief in that wall has too long allowed us to view as normal a world where every minute a woman dies in childbirth. Belief in that wall has allowed us for too long to view the violence, disenfranchisement, and inequality in the world as the problem of poor, weak countries and not our own. There is no wall. There are not two worlds. There is only one.
The process of globalization and growing interdependence has been at work for millennia. As my friend Amartya Sen has pointed out, a millennium ago it was ideas – not from the West – but from China, India, and the Moslem world that gave the intellectual basis for much of science, for printing, and for the arts. There is no wall. We are linked by trade, investment, finance, by travel and communications, by disease, by crime, by migration, by environmental degradation, by drugs, by financial crises, and by terror. Only our mindsets continue to shore up that wall; we are too set in our ways, too complacent, or too frightened to face reality without it.
It is time to tear down that wall
It is time to tear down that wall, to recognize that in this unified world poverty is our collective enemy. Poverty is the war we must fight. We must fight it because it is morally and ethically repugnant. We must fight it because it is in the self-interest of the rich to join the struggle. We must fight it because its existence is like a cancer – weakening the whole of the body, not just the parts that are directly affected. And we need not fight blindly. For we already have a vision of what the road to victory could look like.
A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE (Part 33). This blog is a continuation of the speech by Elie Wiesel at the 7th White House Millennium Evening on 12 April 1999 to be found in Speeches That Changed the World: The Stories and Transcripts of the Moments That Made History.
The Wehrmacht invaded France with oil from American sources
But then, there were human beings who were sensitive to our tragedy. Those non-Jews, those Christians, that we call the ‘Righteous Gentiles’, whose selfless acts of heroism saved the honor of their faith. Why were they so few? Why was there a greater effort to save SS murderers after the war than to save their victims during the war? Why did some of America’s largest corporations continue to do business with Hitler’s Germany until 1942? It has been suggested, and it was documented, that the Wehrmacht could not have conducted its invasion of France without oil obtained from American sources. How is one to explain their indifference?
Good things have also happened in this traumatic century
And yet, my friends, good things have also happened in this traumatic century: the defeat of Nazism, the collapse of Communism, the rebirth of Israel on its ancestral soil, the demise of apartheid, Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt, the peace accord in Ireland. And let us remember the meeting, filled with drama and emotion, between Rabin and Arafat that you, Mr. President, convened in this very place. I was here and I will never forget it. And then, of course, the joint decisions of the United States and NATO to intervene in Kosovo and save those victims, those refugees, those who were uprooted by a man, whom I believe because of his crimes, should be charged with crimes against humanity. But this time, the world was not silent. This time, we do respond. This time, we intervene.
Have we learned from the past?
Does it mean that we have learned from the past? Does it mean that society has changed? Has the human being become less indifferent and more human? Have we really learned from our experiences? Are we less insensitive to the plight of victims of ethnic cleansing, and other forms of injustices in places near and far? Is today’s justified intervention in Kosovo, led by you, Mr. President, a lasting warning that never again will deportation, the terrorization of children and their parents, be allowed anywhere in the world? Will it discourage other dictators in other lands to do the same?
Every minute a child dies of disease, violence, famine
What about the children? Oh, we see them on television, we read about them in the papers, and we do so with a broken heart. Their fate is always the most tragic, inevitably. When adults wage war, children perish. We see their faces, their eyes. Do we hear their pleas? Do we feel their pain, their agony? Every minute one of them dies of disease, violence, famine. Some of them – so many of them – could be saved. And so, once again, I think of the young Jewish boy from the Carpathian Mountains. He has accompanied the old man I have become throughout these years of quest and struggle. And together we walk towards the new millennium, carried by profound fear and extraordinary hope.