Thank you, Professor Calder, for such a warm introduction. I’d also like to thank the members of the Tokyo Foundation and the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies for inviting me to be here today.
I should begin by echoing others to offer warm congratulations to the government of Japan for yesterday’s very successful event. Following yesterday’s successful Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, I’ll focus my remarks here today on Secretary Clinton’s New Silk Road vision for Afghanistan and the region’s future. Secretary Clinton first described this vision nearly a year ago in Chennai, when she spoke to the importance of economic integration for the future peace and security of Afghanistan and the broader region, calling for the development of a “New Silk Road” re-connecting economies that had been torn apart by decades of war and rivalry.
Today I’d like to talk about how the countries of South and Central Asia have embraced this idea and how the United States is working with partners like Japan to revive regional transit and trade networks., We’ve hit some significant milestones in support of greater economic integration, butI hope you’ll permit me to offer some ideas about areas where we can make additional progress. If there is time left after all that, I would be happy to answer questions. I’lll begin with what we’re doing with Japan.
U.S.- Japan Cooperation in South and Central Asia
It goes without saying that both the United States and Japan are deeply invested in Afghanistan and are fully committed to seeing the significant gains of the last decade maintained and solidified through this transitional period. Since the beginning of Afghanistan’s post-Taliban era, Japan has played a leading role, hosting the first international donor conference in early 2002 immediately following the signing of the Bonn Agreement, and filling a critical role in the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration effort. Now, more than a decade later, we are here again in Tokyo, for another critical event in support of Afghanistan’s recovery.
Japan has been a global leader in providing sustained assistance to Afghanistan over the past decade. Earlier this week, JICA showcased the results of that commitment, testimony to the hard work of Japanese and Afghans alike. I should note here that Japan maintained this commitment, even as the tragic events of last year generated such tremendous needs here at home. I believe that says a great deal about Japan’s standing in the world, and about Japan’s partnership with the United States in tackling the most challenging global issues of our time.
As a long-standing American ally, and as a country that seeks to have a positive influence in the world, Japan has been a natural partner for the United States in South and Central Asia. We have converging interests in economic growth, infrastructure, and in developing South and Central Asia as a source of dynamism and stability for the world economy.
In the years ahead, there will be many new opportunities for collaboration. For example, Japan helped Afghanistan build its Ring Road. Together, the United States and Japan could collaborate to help Afghanistan build the Fiber Optic Ring Road, and expand telecommunications connectivity to the region. We are also positioned to help advance a number of regional energy initiatives, including the further development of a regional energy grid. Other possible areas for cooperation include support for regional vocational training in mining, transport, disaster management, as well as continued support for the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation program. Our special partnership with Japan on issues of South and Central Asia is reflected in the trilateral dialogues we have developed with Tokyo and several key regional governments.
Why We Need the New Silk Road
Ffor allits economic potential, South and Central Asia remains one of the least economically integrated areas of the world. Last year, for instance, intra-regional trade accounted for only 1.5 percent of the region’s GDP. South Asian countries’ trade with one another amounted to only 4 percent of their trade with the world in 2010, compared with intraregional trade rates of 26 percent for ASEAN members and 64 percent for EU countries.
But this lack of integration hasn’t always been the case. Actually, in the history of the region, it is not even typical. By virtue of its geography, the region historically served as a hub of interlinking trade routes at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East through which ideas, goods, and people passed from one continent to another.
Today, Afghanistan’s neighbors and near-neighbors once again include some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. This broader region is home to over one-fifth of the world’s population. That market can fuel Afghanistan’s continued economic growth, new jobs, and public revenue, as well as increased private sector investment in the region for decades to come. In other words, the economic segregation that defines the region’s present, didn’t define the past, and shouldn’t define the future.
Recognizing this, Secretary Clinton outlined a vision of economic cooperation, trade liberalization, increased trade flows, and people-to-people linkages throughout the region, referring to it as a ‘New Silk Road.’ In essence, this New Silk Road vision is a framework through which regional partners can think about and promote economic integration. We see this happening through two primary means: First, through trade liberalization – which includes the reduction of non-tariff trade barriers, improved regulatory regimes, transparent and efficient border clearance procedures, and coordinated policies – to accelerate the flow of goods, services, and people throughout the region. And second, through energy, water, transport, and infrastructure – which includes roads, bridges, electrical transmission grids, railways and pipelines – to connect goods, services, and people.
The idea is a simple one: by maximizing the use of transportation and energy infrastructure and actively promoting cross-border collaboration and trade, Central and South Asia can once again become a bustling hub for global commerce. The economic potential of a more open and integrated region as dynamic as this one is virtually unlimited. As the New Silk Road vision becomes a reality, it’s easy to imagine textiles and tea made in Bangladesh making their way through Afghanistan to Central Asia, while Kazakh wheat and energy move southward to feed families and light homes in Pakistan and India. As this New Silk Road develops across the region, we hope Japan will emerge as one of the vital catalysts in this process.
It Is Already Being Built
We know this vision is ambitious. In order to succeed, suspicion and regional rivalries, years of ambivalence about the merits of cooperation, and even geography will need to be overcome. These challenges will be insurmountable unless regional governments truly believe that the benefits of greater integration and connectivity outweigh the costs.
Despite the difficulties, this vision is not merely a pipe dream – it is a reality. The New Silk Road is already being built! As I deliver these remarks, electricity from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan is powering small businesses and government buildings in Afghanistan; rail connections are being built between Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan and a new rail line from the Uzbek border to Mazar-e-Sharif has been completed; Turkmen, Pakistani, and Indian officials have finalized a pricing agreement for the TAPI gas pipeline. If the right industry partners can be attracted, this projectwill one day ship billions of dollars worth of natural gas from energy-rich Central Asia, via Afghanistan, to energy-hungry South Asia.
A private Indian-led consortium of investors recently secured a bid on 1.8 billion tons of high-quality iron ore in the Hajigak tender in central Afghanistan, while a few years back, a Chinese firm secured mining rights to Afghanistan’s Aynak copper mine reserves. Earlier this year, the Afghan government issued an additional four tenders – in copper and gold – and will likely offer another in lithium later this year, providing further opportunities for investors to help build the New Silk Road.
Just last week, CII, the Indian business confederation, joined with the Governments of India and Afghanistan to host a conference aimed at promoting foreign investment in Afghanistan and encouraging Afghanistan’s neighbors to play a more active role in Afghanistan’s economic future. Recommendations and outcomes from that highly constructive conference were presented jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Indian Ministry of External Affairs at yesterday’s conference.
In addition to capital-intensive infrastructure and extractive developments, a push towards regulatory reform, regional capacity building, and increased cooperation on border management is also taking root with regional governments. Initiatives such as the Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe and the Customs Training Facility in Bishkek – both of which strengthen technical and people-to-people linkages between Afghanistan and neighboring Central Asian states – exemplify the New Silk Road vision.
Outside of our own robust USAID regional integration program, initiatives like the Transport Corridor of Europe, the Caucasus and Asia, the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program, the SARI-Energy programs, and the ADB’s Regional Improvement of Border Services project all advance this idea of more trade through reduced non-tariff trade barriers and increased economic cooperation and integration. The CAREC-facilitated Cross-Border Transport Agreement will help to improve transport infrastructure and accelerate the transit of goods between the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. Over time, this agreement could be expanded to include other countries along CAREC’s “Transport Corridornumber five”, which connects East Asia to the Arabian Sea through Afghanistan. Ultimately, safer and more effective border-crossing points coupled with streamlined transportation regulation, means more (and more effective) trade – and that means increased prosperity, peace, and stability for the citizens of this region.
India and the Promise of Trade
The most significant and promising milestones we have seen so far along the New Silk Road are those that strengthen trade. Economic opportunity changes lives for the better, and one of the best ways to increase economic opportunity is by growing a country’s trade relationships. Trade with neighbors makes good economic sense – just look at the United States, where two of our top three trading partners are on our borders, and account for almost thirty percent of our total trade value.
Leaders in India and Pakistan recognize the reality of this and have taken significant steps recently to improve their bilateral trade ties. According to World Bank estimates, trade flows between the two countries have languished at 400 percent below their potential. But the good news is that’s a lot of potential! The process of normalization in both directions, including the full extension of Most Favored Nation status by Pakistan by the end of this year, the reduction of non-tariff barriers by India, and more liberal business visa policies could lead to a $10 billion increase in trade.
India and Pakistani officials have already made significant progress building Integrated Check Posts at the Wagah border, with India investing $30 million to upgrade the infrastructure on its side of the border. The check post, which will become operational later this year, will serve as a portal for goods from the wider region, including Afghanistan, to access the markets in India and Bangladesh. I should note that it takes only eight hours by car to drive from Wagah to the Afghan border via Lahore, Islamabad, and Peshawar. Add to that the conclusion of the historic transit trade agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan, designed to reduce the costs and delays in transport between the two countries, and it becomes clear that the New Silk Road is taking shape.
Of course, there are countless challenges ahead, and there is always room for improvement. But undeniable progress has been made, and the region is taking ownership of this commercially-driven vision. Every country in South and Central Asia stands to gain from a more open and integrated neighborhood. Recent breakthroughs in regional trade and cooperation demonstrate that regional governments understand and are embracing this. Through the continued efforts of regional governments, donors, and the private sector, that progress will continue.
All along the New Silk Road, Afghanistan’s neighbors and friends have demonstrated their commitment to Afghanistan’s economic and political success. As Afghanistan assumes lead responsibility for its own security and seeks to grow its economy, it is critical that the international community remain engaged to ensure that the progress we have all worked so hard to achieve is preserved and has the momentum to continue.
Thank you very much – I’ll now gladly take any questions.
As Prepared for Delivery
Delivered in Spanish
Good morning. It’s a pleasure and indeed an honor to be with you all today, as we kick off the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) High-Level Conference on Victims of Terrorism. On behalf of Secretary Hillary Clinton, I want to thank Foreign Minister Garcia-Margallo and Interior Minister Antonio Alonso for hosting this important meeting, which I know they first discussed this past February. I also want to acknowledge my colleagues, Ambassador Fernandez and Assistant Secretary Pressman, whose presence highlights the broad and deep commitment of the United States to this work.
Like the United States and so many countries around the world, Spain has experienced firsthand the pain that terrorism inflicts on society. You are to be commended for turning that pain into action by focusing on the people who suffer the most from terrorist acts.
Around the world, terrorists make their mark on the world through acts of hate. They proclaim their values with a deep and disturbing indifference to human life.
Those of you here today stand in stark contrast to terrorists, not only by condemning their acts but by countering their indifference with honor, dignity, and compassion for victims of terrorism.
So let me start by first thanking you for being here and for the work that you are doing on behalf of victims everywhere.
To the victims of terrorism that are with us this morning, I also thank you for your courage and your perseverance. Each of you is a testament to the fact that the human spirit cannot be easily broken. You are an inspiration to all of us, and we are honored to work not just on your behalf but alongside you in this important work.
Today we begin an important discussion within the Global Counterterrorism Forum—or GCTF – which offers a unique venue for bringing together governments, victims, and other interested stakeholders to share experiences and good practices in this critical and emotionally charged area.
Over the next several days, we will deliberate how states can increase their support of victims of terrorism, and how we can better integrate victims into the global effort to counter extremist narratives.
To start our discussion, I want to touch on four areas that the United States believes should be part of our comprehensive strategy to address the needs of victims and also integrate their voices into counter-terrorist efforts.
First, governments must be sure that victims of terrorism have the information they need and access to resources available from the state and the international community. The road to recovery is long, but it is made all the easier by accessible information and resources—from medical care to legal representation to psychological services. Governments should also ensure that the families of victims have access to these services, so that they can support the survivor’s recovery process.
Second, victims should have the opportunity to participate in the accountability process that follows any terrorist attack. They should have access to the perpetrators’ court proceedings, and be afforded protection if necessary, so that they may work towards recovery. For example, To help victims and survivors of mass violence and terrorism, some courts have ordered the closed-circuit transmission of trial proceedings to multiple locations so that victims may more easily participate in the trial process.
Victims often play an important role in supporting efforts to bring terrorist to justice, both as witnesses and as advocates for accountability. We must strive to protect and foster victim-participation in accountability efforts, while remaining respectful of the psychological challenges such a process can present.
Third, we must provide an environment for support and recovery of victims of terrorism. They should have the chance to meet other survivors and share experiences as each person advances his or her own healing. In order to create such an environment and network of support, we in the international community must foster an understanding of the unique and diverse needs of survivors.
And fourth, governments must listen to victims. In their process of healing and recovery, survivors can inform the global fight against terrorism. We need to elevate their voices and stories while also incorporating their wisdom into our counter-terrorism efforts.
We should ensure that those survivors who wish to share their stories have the opportunity to do so on the world stage. By magnifying the voices of survivors, especially through international media, we have a unique chance to educate the world about the pain inflicted by terrorists. Though such awareness is tainted with pain and suffering, it is all the more powerful in discouraging radicalized individuals and empowering other victims to speak up against violent extremism.
Last September at the official launch of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, I had the privilege to introduce the premier of a film “Hear Their Voices”, which tells the stories of eleven survivors of terrorist attacks from Pakistan, Jordan, Northern Ireland, Uganda, Turkey, Indonesia, India, Spain, Columbia and the United States. The film, which was produced by the Global Survivors Network, is a powerful plea for audiences around the world, especially those sympathetic to the grievances expressed by extremists, to recognize the human cost of terrorism and I am delighted that our Spanish hosts are planning on showing this film here later this afternoon.
Over the course of the next two days we look forward to hearing about the inspiring efforts of victims, victims’ associations, and other civil society actors from around the globe working to prevent future terrorist acts. This includes the work of Sisters against Violent Extremism, which is bringing together the survivors of terrorist attacks, their relatives, activists and policy makers in addition to launching innovative campaigns such as Schools and Students Against Violent Extremism! and Mothers for Change!.
Moving forward, it is our hope that these and similar efforts will reach every victim of terrorism on the road to recovery and on our shared path of countering violent extremism in all of forms the world over.
In closing, I want to reiterate my thanks, on behalf of Secretary Clinton and President Obama, for the important work that you are doing. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack, we often turn our immediate attention to the perpetrators, while traumatized victims and survivors grieve and suffer in silence. But today, that changes. We look forward to the adoption of the forward looking declaration and action plan at the end of this conference that will reaffirm our hope that no victim suffers alone and set us on a course to mobilize additional resources and expertise to provide more victims with the training and other tools they need to more effectively put forward their own counter-narratives to messages touting violent extremism. Together with our GCTF partners , international and regional organizations, NGOs, and the media, we will ensure victims receive the respect and support they deserve, and we will advance efforts to counter violent extremism.
Thank you. Thank you, President Elbegdorj, and it’s wonderful to be back here in Mongolia and see this young, vibrant democracy in action. And it’s a pleasure to be here with all of you this afternoon to help launch the LEND Network, a new tool that will help countries navigate the transition to sustainable democracy.
When my colleague Minister Urmas Paet and I first announced this initiative back in March, we had three principles in mind: First, new democracies can and should learn from those that have already made the transition, overcome some of the obstacles, and have matured. Over the past two decades, more than 40 countries became democracies, and that represents a wealth of hard-won knowledge that we need to capture and share. Second, the pace of political change is accelerating and we have to try to keep up. That’s why we think leaders in emerging democracies can benefit from having access to immediate, on-demand information. And third, this task is too big for governments alone. We believe we should tap into the expertise and resources of the private sector and civil society.
I want to thank my colleague from the State Department, Dr. Tomicah Tillemann, for his work as our Senior Advisor for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies, and also to thank Maria Leissner, the new Secretary General of the Community of Democracies.
Now you will see the principles that I outlined at work in the LEND Network. It employs the latest communications technology, including tablet computers and video conferencing, to create an online forum where leaders can exchange information on building their own democracies and answering questions. I was just walking and talking to the President, who was telling me that he had just been in Kyrgyzstan. And the former President of Kyrgyzstan is here talking about democracy and she was saying how important it was to have a president from a neighboring country come and validate what they are trying to do, and frankly also encourage leaders to make some of the hard decisions to keep going.
So the LEND Network is designed to give people the information they need when they need it. And in a minute, we’ll get to see the network in action when the Foreign Minister of Moldova conducts a live video chat with his former counterpart from Slovakia.
Now let me thank all of the partners who came together to launch this project, starting with the Community of Democracies. We have said that we want the Community of Democracies to be a forum for action, not just words, and this is exactly the kind of effort we have in mind. I also want to thank Estonia for co-chairing the LEND Working Group and particularly the Foreign Minister, also Sweden and Chile, for their invaluable support. And I applaud the emerging democracies that are joining the network and the volunteer advisors from over 20 countries. And I thank our private sector partners Google, OpenText, and Dialcom, as well as the Club of Madrid for their contributions. As you can see, it takes a lot of partners to launch a project as ambitious as this one, and I encourage other countries – emerging and established democracies alike – to join the LEND Network.
Now we are very much aware that no single project can solve every problem that emerging democracies encounter, but we truly believe that if we keep working together and sharing the lessons we learn, we can help more countries make a successful transition to democracy. And that in turn, we believe, makes the world safer and more prosperous for all of us. So I’m very excited about this initiative, and it’s now my great pleasure to introduce my friend and my colleague, the Foreign Minister of Estonia.
The 20th Session of the Human Rights Council underscored the broadening scope and efficacy of the Council, while highlighting the instrumental role of United States engagement with a diverse range of countries from all regions of the world to address urgent human rights concerns. U.S. leadership kept the Council at the forefront of international efforts to promote and protect human rights in Syria, and the passing of a resolution on the equal right to nationality for women and children. With our strong support, the Council passed a historic resolution on Internet freedom, and created of special rapporteurs on Belarus and Eritrea. Though much work remains, in particular ending the Council’s disproportionate focus on Israel, U.S. engagement since joining the Human Rights Council has made it a more effective and credible multilateral forum for promoting and protecting human rights.
MULTILATERAL RESPONSES TO COUNTRY SITUATIONS & HUMAN RIGHTS PRIORITITES
Belarus: The Council took a first step last year on the human rights situation in Belarus by passing a resolution that called for a written report on Belarus, but the continued lack of cooperation by Belarus with HRC mechanisms and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the further drastic degradation of the human rights situation highlighted the need to take more robust action. After close collaboration between the United States and the European Union and intense lobbying before and during this session, the HRC voted to create the special rapporteur on Belarus, re-creating a mandate that was eliminated in 2006.
Eritrea: Nigeria, Djibouti and Somalia led the Council to create a special rapporteur on Eritrea. This independent human rights expert will focus urgent attention on a critical human rights situation. Eritreans remain victimized by one of the world’s most repressive governments. They suffer arbitrary and indefinite detention; inhumane conditions of confinement; torture; restrictions on freedom of speech, movement, and belief; and indefinite forced labor in national service. The United States co-sponsored this important resolution along with a cross-regional group of supporters. This is the first time the HRC has unanimously created a special rapporteur that was actively opposed by the country in question, showing both the increased credibility of the Council, the leadership o the African Group, and the international community’s concern over human rights violations in Eritrea.
Syria: The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria provided an oral report at this session, including its initial findings from an investigation of the May 25 Houla massacre. The United States, with the support of cross-regional partners, including Turkey, presented a resolution that maintained the focus on Syria and underscored the need to continue the Commission of Inquiry’s work to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law as the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate.
Israel: While the biased Israel-specific agenda item unfortunately still exists, we are pleased that there were no resolutions tabled under this item during this session. However, the HRC President did name the members of the Fact Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements, created in March. As reflected by our vote against this measure at the March session, the United States strongly opposed the creation of the Fact Finding Mission.
Internet Freedom: The United States was proud to work closely with the main sponsor, Sweden, and over 80 co-sponsors, including Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria, and Tunisia, to help unanimously pass a landmark resolution that underscores that all individuals are entitled to the same human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression, online as they are offline, and that all governments must protect those rights regardless of the medium. We will continue to work with our partners to address challenges to online freedom, and to ensure that human rights are protected in the public square of the 21st century.
The Right to a Nationality: This resolution, which the United States led with Botswana, Colombia, Mexico, Iraq, Turkey, and Slovakia, aimed to address an important but under-recognized human right, the right to a nationality, with a specific focus on women and children. The equal right to a nationality for women, including the ability to acquire and retain nationality and confer it on their children, reduces the likelihood that women and children will become stateless and vulnerable to serious harm. This is the first time that the Human Rights Council has addressed the issue of discriminatory nationality laws targeting women. In total there were 49 co-sponsors supporting the resolution, with representation from every geographical region. This resolution supports the Secretary’s initiative to promote women’s equal right to nationality, which emphasizes that women’s rights are human rights.
The United States is pleased by another successful session of the Human Rights Council, and congratulates member states for their leadership in promoting and protecting human rights during its 20th session. We are pleased by the strong leadership shown within the Africa Group, in particular the delegations of Nigeria, Somalia, and Djibouti, which took the lead in the creation of a special rapporteur on Eritrea. Similarly, we applaud the creation of a special rapporteur on Belarus, a mandate that had been eliminated in 2006 when the United States was not on the Council, but has been reestablished thanks to the leadership of the European Union and U.S. reengagement. In both cases, countries worked to make sure the international community addressed chronic human rights violators in their own regions. The special rapporteurs will make crucial contributions by providing the international community with independent and credible accounts of the human rights situations on the ground.
The Human Rights Council also affirmed unanimously that human rights apply on the Internet just as they do offline, and that all governments must protect those rights regardless of the medium.
The Council also maintained its strong pressure on the Assad regime, adopting its fourth resolution on Syria this year. We are pleased that the Council did not adopt any new resolutions on Israel, which has disproportionately borne the brunt of Council attention.
Finally, the United States presented a resolution on the right to nationality for women and children as a follow up to the Women’s Nationality Initiative announced in Geneva last year. The resolution, which passed by consensus with 49 cosponsors, urges nations to recognize a child’s and a woman’s right to nationality and to grant equal nationality rights to women.
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of the Republic of South Sudan as you celebrate your first anniversary of independence this July 9.
South Sudan has been hard at work over the past year building governing structures and a foundational legal framework. Your work to provide security, accountability and systemic respect for human rights is admirable.
Despite the progress, significant challenges remain that threaten stability and prosperity. Conflict and unresolved issues with Sudan and domestic inter-ethnic tensions have led to increased fighting and economic hardship, which threatens to compromise the very foundation on which South Sudan’s future will be built.
There are many challenges, but the South Sudanese people have repeatedly demonstrated their capacity to overcome great odds. We are hopeful that this new beginning for the people of South Sudan will continue to be used as an opportunity to build a nation that embodies the values and aspirations of its people, and that South Sudan can emerge from the shadows of conflict and turmoil. The United States remains committed to helping South Sudan meet the challenges it faces and build a free, democratic and inclusive society—one that is at peace both internally and with its neighbors.
The strong ties between the people of our two nations go back many decades, and we are committed to building upon this partnership in the years to come. Congratulations and best wishes on this historic day.
Well, good afternoon, everyone, and it’s a great honor for me to be here once again in Mongolia, and to have a chance to speak to the democratic progress that Mongolia has made and the example that has been set. Mr. President, I believe as strongly today as I did then that Mongolia is an inspiration and a model, and I thank you for your leadership and vision. Foreign Minister, thank you for your partnership as we have worked together not only between the United States and Mongolia, but also as Mongolia has chaired the Community of Democracies.
And I can – I am delighted to commend Mongolia for convening this International Women’s Leadership Forum, and it’s a great honor for me to be here on the stage along with Kim Campbell and along with Ms. Kang, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Deputy from the United Nations. I see in the audience a wonderful friend, someone who was the first woman president of Kyrgyzstan. Roza, it’s wonderful to see you and please, let’s give you a round of applause. (Applause.) And Ambassador Leissner, who will be leading the efforts of the Community of Democracies, and to all the officials here in Mongolia, particularly to the newly elected women members of the parliament, congratulations. (Applause.)
If there is one characteristic that every strong democracy in the world shares, it is that they are fully open to all of their citizens – men and women – and a democracy without the participation of women is a contradiction in terms. So whenever we talk about how to support democracy, we must be sure that women are not just a part of the discussion, but at the table to help lead that discussion, and to remain committed to helping more women worldwide gain roles in their governments, their economies, and their civil societies.
I’m delighted that here in Mongolia, supporting the rise of women leaders is a national priority. The number of women in parliament tripled after the recent elections, as the President said and as you just saw. And these women are blazing a path for all Mongolians who have the drive and desire to serve, to follow. And Mr. President, I love the way you ended your remarks, that you hope someday there will be a woman president of Mongolia. So I think the United States and Mongolia should be in a race to see who gets there first. (Applause.)
Seventeen years ago, when I was the First Lady of my nation, I made an unforgettable trip to Ulaanbaatar. And like many who came here, I was enchanted certainly by the nation’s beauty, but by its hospitality and particularly the energy and determination of its people. And I was especially inspired by the Mongolian people’s commitment to democracy. Against long odds, surrounded by powerful neighbors who had their own ideas about Mongolia’s future, the Mongolian people came together with great courage to transform a one-party Communist dictatorship into a pluralistic, democratic political system.
During my trip 17 years ago, I was delighted to give a speech at the Mongolian National University, and there I offered a challenge to anyone who would suggest that freedom and democracy are exclusively Western concepts. The answer was simple. I said, “Let them come to Mongolia. Let them see people willing to hold demonstrations in subzero temperatures and travel long distances to cast their ballots in elections.” So great was their commitment to making Mongolia’s democracy strong.
And since that time, Mongolia has held six successful rounds of parliamentary elections. You recently passed a long-awaited freedom of information law giving your citizens a clearer view into the workings of their government. On Mongolian TV, people from across the political spectrum openly and vigorously debate ideas. And Mongolians deserve our support today as you work to improve freedom of the press, hold the symbol of fair elections to an even higher standard, and root out corruptions of all kinds wherever it may be found in order to build a durable democracy. Now here we are. We have all come to Mongolia to reaffirm our support from democracy in the region and the world, and in particular, to highlight the role and opportunities for women in democracies.
Now I have come here as part of an extended trip across Asia. Yesterday, I attended a conference in Japan, one of our most important democratic allies, to help support a fledgling democracy, Afghanistan. Tomorrow, I will travel to Vietnam and then on to Laos, where I will be the first Secretary of State to visit that country in 57 years. And then later, I will join leaders from across the region in Cambodia for the ASEAN Regional Forum. My trip reflects a strategic priority of American foreign policy today. After 10 years in which we had to focus a great deal of attention on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is making substantially increased investments – diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise – in this part of the world. It’s what is called our pivot toward Asia.
As President Obama and I have described, we want to help build an open, stable, and just regional order in the Asia Pacific based on norms and institutions that benefit all nations and all peoples. And therefore, our strategy incorporates three broad dimensions of America’s engagement – security, economic, and common values. The first, security, has of course gotten a lot of attention recently. And while it is very important, it is only one part of our strategic engagement. We view our economic outreach in Asia as equally vital, and I will be speaking about that throughout this trip.
But I have to say that in many ways, the heart of our strategy, the piece that binds all the rest of it together, is our support for democracy and human rights. Those are not only my nation’s most cherished values; they are the birthright of every person born in the world. They are the values that speak to the dignity of every human being. They are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, making clear that these are not to be given by a government to any individual, because every individual already owns them. And together, the elements of security, economics, and common values undergird our vision of a region that is peaceful, prosperous, and free.
This is the right time to be reminding ourselves about the importance of democracy in Asia as many countries grapple with the question of which model of governance best suits their societies and circumstances, because the path they choose will shape the lives of billions of people of the region and beyond. And what we want for the people of this region, as we do for the entire world, is that you be free to make these choices for yourselves, because people who are free to choose overwhelmingly choose democracy.
Why? Well, because it offers people the chance to live with dignity and to create better lives for their children; it offers societies the best way to resolve disputes peacefully and to share a common vision for one’s society and nation; and by every measure, democracies make better neighbors and partners to other nations. They are more innovative, they tap into the free expression and intellectual capital of the people of their democracy. They inspire people to try to solve problems themselves, not just relying on their government. They give people a way to devote energy to productive political and civic engagement which reduces the allure of extremism. And open societies offer more opportunities for economic, educational, cultural, and people-to-people exchanges which are part of the foundation for peace. So working to expand the global Community of Democracies is not just the right thing to do; it is also the strategically smart thing to do. And as we have seen here in Mongolia, everyone has a stake in the growth of democracy.
Now I know there are some who will say that while democracy can work well elsewhere in the world, it isn’t perfectly at home in Asia. They suggest that it is unsuited to this region’s history, maybe even antithetical to Asian values. Well, I think all we have to do is look at what is happening across Asia today, in countries large and small, to rebut these notions. During the past five years, Asia has been the only region in the world to achieve steady gains in political rights and civil liberties, according to the nongovernmental organization Freedom House.
Consider Thailand, which has overcome sharp political differences and military rule to restore democratic governance. The people of Taiwan recently held vigorous but peaceful presidential elections. And Timor-Leste, Asia’s youngest democracy, held parliamentary elections just this weekend. The Philippines held elections that were widely praised as a significant improvement over previous ones, and also they launched a concerted effort to fight corruption and increase transparency in government. In India, the world’s largest democracy, more than 1 million women have served in local elected offices in villages and cities across the country, working every day, and producing results that improve the lives of citizens. It’s as the President said; they’ve improved the lives for children, improved the lives for people with disabilities, improved the lives for the elderly, improved the lives for other women.
And consider all that has been achieved in Burma. After decades of military rule, the government there released political prisoners, passed laws allowing the formation and operation of political parties, taken steps to protect the freedom of expression, and has begun to make efforts to heal bitter ethnic divisions. And Aung San Suu Kyi, who for decades was the imprisoned conscience of her nation, is now able to speak freely and take her rightful place serving in parliament.
These and other achievements across the region show what is possible. And they stand in stark contrast to those governments that continue to resist reforms, that work around the clock to restrict people’s access to ideas and information, to imprison them for expressing their views, to usurp the rights of citizens to choose their leaders, to govern without accountability, to corrupt the economic progress of the country and take the riches onto themselves. At this decisive moment, as governments across Asia are weighing the future and courageous people everywhere are working for change, the United States and likeminded nations and organizations are called upon to make the case for democracy loudly and clearly. Those who oppose democracy rely on a few arguments, which we must counter at every turn.
Their first argument is that democracy threatens stability. But in fact, democracy fosters stability. It is true that clamping down on political expression or maintaining a tight grip on what people read or say or see can create the illusion of security, but illusions fade because people’s yearning for liberty do not. By contrast, democracy provides a critical safety valve for society. It allows people to select their leaders, it gives those leaders legitimacy to make difficult but necessary decisions for the national good, and it lets those in the minority express their views peacefully, and that helps ensure stability and continuity through political transitions.
Another argument we sometimes hear is that democracy is a privilege belonging to wealthy countries, that developing economies need to put economic growth first and worry about democracy later. Now Asia does have several examples of countries that have achieved initial economic successes without meaningful political reform, but that too is a shortsighted and ultimately unsustainable bargain. You cannot over the long run have economic liberalization without political liberalization. Countries that want to be open for business but closed to free expression will find the approach comes with a cost. It kills innovation, discourages entrepreneurship which are vital for sustainable growth. Without the rule of law, people with a good business idea or money to invest cannot trust that contracts will be respected and corruption punished, or that regulations will be transparent and disputes resolved fairly, and many will end up looking for opportunities elsewhere.
Countries that deny their workers their universal rights, including the right to unionize, pay a cost in lost productivity and greater labor unrest. And furthermore, it’s a losing battle because when economic empowerment finally takes root, when a middle class is formed, popular demands grow for a say in politics and governance. Anyone who doubts that political openness and prosperity go hand-in-hand only have to look to South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan – democratic societies that have delivered tremendous economic benefits. Or look right here in Mongolia, where gross domestic product is growing by double digits. And we’ve seen very clearly that parliamentary elections go hand-in-hand with greater economic opportunity.
Now of course, successful democracies are not created over night. Ours wasn’t. We’ve been at this for a very long time, as you know. And it took quite a number of years to work out many of our challenges. And several of the places I’ve mentioned have only started their journey toward democracy within the last 20 or so years. It takes time to build a strong democracy. And it doesn’t only begin and end with the first free election. In fact, too many places try to pretend they’re democracies because they held one election one time. But we know that is not democracy at all; it is authoritarianism by just a different guise.
As we look at the unique strengths, challenges, and histories of individual nations, we know everyone has to find their own path. But we can learn from each other, we can encourage each other, we can hold each other accountable. We can find the best ways to strengthen the rule of law, to tackle corruption, how to support civil society. And the Community of Democracies helps us do all of these things.
The Community’s new task forces in Tunisia and Moldova are delivering concrete support to countries undergoing promising transitions. It is also playing a key role in defending civil society. And later this afternoon, I will help launch a new Community of Democracies initiative, The LEND Network, that will use 21st century technologies to support leaders in emerging democracies.
The United States wants to be a strong partner to all those who are dedicated to human rights and fundamental freedoms. And it is one of the reasons why we so highly value the role of women, because for us it is just a given that unless we have women involved at every stage, we cannot achieve the promise of democracy.
When I was here 17 years ago, I had just come from the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women, which had been held in Beijing. There, I said that women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights. Well, that is as true today as it was then. I’m very pleased that we’ve seen progress since then. Not enough, and not everywhere, but we can see what can be accomplished by staying focused on the role and rights of women. And as we elect more women to more high-level positions, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We also think it’s important that women themselves network to support each other, which is why this conference is essential, because there are some specific challenges that women in leadership positions face. And we need to be sure that we share information, share experiences, and support each other. And it’s often women coming from civil society, from NGOs, that assume a role in democratic politics. That’s why protecting civil society is especially important for women.
So we speak out against repressive laws and harassment of civil society. We’ve created an emergency fund for NGOs and individuals who come under threat. We have strongly supported a Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Assembly at the UN Human Rights Council. We have created a new global forum, the Open Government Partnership, to promote transparency, accountability, and the rule of law. And we speak out on behalf of marginalized people – racial, religious, ethnic minorities, LGBT people, and yes, still women.
I’ve said before that much of the history of the 21st century will be written in Asia, and it may turn out to be a century in which economies grow, conflicts are avoided, security is strengthened, and those would be good outcomes and we are working hard to achieve them.
But they will not be sustainable unless we are also working to reinforce an architecture of rights-based rule of law in every nation in every region of the world. We need to make the 21st century a time in which people across Asia don’t only become wealthy; they also must become more free. And each of us can help make that happen through our policies, our programs and our actions. And if we do, the benefit is not only will people be more free, but they will be more secure and more prosperous. If we don’t, we will limit the human and economic potential of this great region.
So as members of this vibrant Community of Democracies, let us rededicate ourselves to the shared mission of protecting the rights of people everywhere. And here in Asia, let’s rededicate ourselves to building a freer region. And as we do that, I can say with the same level of certainty that I felt at 17 years ago, if you want to see democracy in action, if you want to see progress being shaped by leaders who are more concerned about lifting up their people than fattening their bank accounts, come to Mongolia. If you want to see women assuming more and more positions of responsibility rather than being marginalized and left behind, come to Mongolia.
So for me – (applause) – there could not be a better place, Mr. President, to talk about the necessity of our working together to ensure that more nations in Asia look like Mongolia, provide opportunities to their people as you are working to do here, hold up women and their rights and opportunities as part of the national treasure of their country. So yes, let them come to Mongolia. They will not be disappointed. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
Capitalizing on the opportunity afforded by the Tokyo Conference – which represents the culmination of a period of intensive engagement between Afghanistan and the international community – we convened the first ministerial-level Core Group meeting today. We reaffirmed that the purpose of the Core Group is to enhance cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States to support an Afghan peace and reconciliation process, and further affirmed that Afghanistan should be a peaceful, secure, stable, and prosperous nation living in a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous region supported by enduring partnerships with the international community. Great effort and sacrifice by the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and the international community has decimated al-Qaida’s core leadership in the region, reducing the threat to international peace and security that led the international community to intervene in Afghanistan in 2001. Afghanistan should never again be a safe-haven from which al-Qaida or other terrorist groups threaten international peace and security.
As agreed at Istanbul and Bonn in 2011, and reaffirmed at Chicago and Tokyo in 2012, the surest way to lasting peace and security for Afghanistan and the broader region is through an Afghan political process of peace and reconciliation for Afghanistan. This process should be supported by Afghanistan’s neighbors and by the international community.
After 30 years of war, all Afghans should be able to live together in peace. Only Afghans can determine how they live together, how the future of their country must be shaped, and how their country should relate to the region and beyond.
We are committed to work together to support an inclusive Afghan peace process through which individuals and groups break ties with international terrorism, renounce violence, and abide by Afghanistan’s constitution, including its protections for the rights of all Afghan women and men. As the international community reaffirmed at Bonn and again at Tokyo, these are the necessary outcomes of any negotiation.
Foreign Minister Rassoul welcomed Pakistan’s and the United States’ support for Afghan peace efforts, noting especially former Prime Minister Gilani’s February 2012 statement expressing Pakistan’s support for Afghan reconciliation and calling on the Afghan Taliban and related groups to participate in an intra-Afghan process for reconciliation and peace.
To build further momentum, we reaffirmed the importance of pursuing multiple channels and contacts with the armed opposition. Pakistan and Afghanistan committed to take full advantage of upcoming bilateral exchanges, including Pakistani Prime Minister Ashraf’s forthcoming visit to Kabul and High Peace Council Chairman Rabbani’s planned visit to Islamabad. These visits should determine and implement additional concrete steps to advance Afghan reconciliation. We also welcomed and encouraged additional progress on regional confidence-building through the Istanbul Process, since enhanced cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbors on issues such as narcotics, refugees, and regional trade will help create an environment for long-term stability and prosperity.
We welcomed the broad international support for an Afghan peace process, reaffirmed here in Tokyo, and emphasized that the upcoming opening of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly provides additional opportunities to support and advance Afghan peace efforts.
We reiterate our call for the armed opposition to abandon violence and enter a dialogue with the Afghan government. We call on all parties to devote their energy to realizing this vision, respond in the same spirit, and commit to support an Afghan political process that will result in lasting peace, security, stability, and prosperity for Afghanistan and the region.
Secretary Clinton at Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan
Secretary Clinton at Afghan Civil Society Event in Tokyo
Fact Sheet: Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan
Secretary Clinton with Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Building on the decisions made in Bonn and Chicago, as well as the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement, the United States joined over 70 partners in Tokyo to underline our continuing support for Afghanistan’s efforts to strengthen itself and provide a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous future for its people through the conclusion of the security transition in 2014 and into the Transformation Decade.
Today, the international community and Afghanistan agreed to a different kind of partnership built on the principles of mutual accountability. In the Tokyo Framework, the Government of Afghanistan and the international community agreed to a list of priority reforms, on important steps to improve the effectiveness of international assistance, and how we will collectively review progress moving forward.
The international community made clear its intent to support Afghanistan, while recognizing that sustained financial support is only possible, and only responsible, if Afghanistan successfully implements its program of necessary governance and economic reforms and maintains a political system that reflects its pluralistic society, including the equality of men and women, and remains firmly founded in the Afghan Constitution.
Japan has calculated that $16 billion is available from the international community for Afghanistan’s development over the next four years, enough to meet the World Bank’s estimated requirements, just as Chicago met the security requirements. Secretary Clinton announced the United States’ intention to seek sustained levels of economic assistance for Afghanistan through 2017 at or near the levels the U.S. has provided over the past decade.
Based on Afghanistan’s efforts to become self-reliant, particularly reforms to facilitate private sector investment and regional integration along the New Silk Road, Afghanistan’s need for foreign assistance will continue to decline over the course of the decade. The international community agreed to put an increased share of resources through incentivized programs that link disbursement of on-budget assistance to specific reforms.
The Tokyo Conference highlighted the critical role of Afghan civil society in advocating for and supporting human rights, good governance and sustainable social, economic and democratic development of Afghanistan.
Sustaining Gains of the Last Ten Years
• Since 2006, the U.S. has funded $316 million in education initiatives, increasing the number of teachers from 20,000 in 2002 to over 175,000 today, 30 percent of whom are women.
• In 2002, an estimated 900,000 boys were in school and virtually no girls. Now there are 8 million students enrolled in school, with nearly 40 percent girls.
• Since 2006, the U.S. has invested nearly $643 million in healthcare initiatives, training over 22,000 healthcare workers.
• Life expectancy has increased by 15 years from 44 years to over 60 for men and women.
• Access to basic health services (ability to reach a facility within one hour by foot) has risen from 9 percent in 2001 to more than 60 percent today.
• Since 2006, the U.S. has funded $1.6 billion in infrastructure projects and $386 million in agriculture development.
• In 2002, only 6 percent of Afghans had access to reliable electricity. Today 18 percent do, and more than 2 million people in Kabul now benefit from electric power 24 hours a day.
• In 2001, there was one mobile phone company with 21,000 subscribers. Today there are four companies with more than 16 million subscribers, some offering 3G service.
• In 2001, there were few paved roads. Today there are over 2,000 km. of paved roads, giving roughly 80 percent of the population greater access to markets, schools, clinics, and government services.
• Since 2009, we have expanded licit agricultural cultivation by 236,000 hectares, creating 174,000 full time equivalent jobs. The estimated Afghan GDP in 2010 was $15.9 billion, a growth of more than four times higher than in 2002 and represents more than 9 percent per year average increase.
• Afghan government revenues have grown strongly since 2002, averaging almost a 20 percent increase per year. In 2011, domestic revenue reached an historic high of $1.7 billion or 11 percent of GDP, exceeding the IMF target of 9.2 percent per year.
• DABS, Afghanistan’s national power company, increased revenues from $39 million to $159 million.
Democracy and Governance:
• Since 2006, the U.S. has funded $1.8 billion in rule of law and counternarcotics programs.
• The Justice Sector Support Program (JSSP) has trained over 14,000 Afghan investigators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges since the program began in 2004.
• Twenty seven percent of seats in the Parliament, one governor, three cabinet, and 120 judicial positions are now held by women,
• In 2001, there was one state-owned radio and television station. Now there are over 75 television stations and 175 radio stations, with all but two privately owned.
• The Afghan constitution enshrines the rights of all Afghans, including women and minorities
Secretary Clinton with Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Secretary Clinton at Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan
Secretary Clinton at Afghan Civil Society Event in Tokyo
Joint Statement by Secretary Clinton, Pakistan, Afghanistan FMs
It is a pleasure to be back in Cairo. Ambassador Patterson and I just finished a very constructive meeting with President Morsi. I conveyed a message of congratulations from President Obama, emphasizing America’s strong commitment to building a new partnership with a new, democratic Egypt, founded on common interest and mutual respect.
While in Cairo, I am also meeting with a broad range of Egyptian leaders, political figures, civil society representatives, and members of the business community. These discussions help prepare for Secretary Clinton’s visit to Egypt later this month, which will highlight U.S. support for Egypt’s democratic transition and economic revival. I’ll add just a few brief points.
First, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the people of Egypt on what is truly an historic set of achievements. A peaceful revolution. Competitive elections. The first democratically-elected civilian president in Egypt’s history. For all the very real problems that remain, not all nations who rose up alongside you last year have been so fortunate. Not all nations carry Egypt’s strategic and historic weight. And not all nations can have such an important impact on the entire region through the success of their democratic transition, and through their continued role as a strong pillar of peace, security, and prosperity.
Second, the United States will do all we can to help ensure a successful transition in Egypt, which offers the best path to realize the aspirations of the Egyptian people for dignity, for opportunity, for security, and for a voice in their own affairs. Egyptians know far better than we do that their aspirations are not yet fully realized, but they can count on America’s partnership on the complicated road ahead.
Third, we are mindful that many of the Egyptian people’s most pressing concerns today are economic in nature. We are fully committed to tangible initiatives to help Egypt deal with its economic challenges, including meeting immediate financial concerns, providing debt relief, helping to create jobs and educational opportunities, and encouraging U.S. investment and tourism. For all the obvious challenges, Egypt clearly has the potential for economic revival and inclusive growth.
Fourth, in a very short time, Egypt has traveled a remarkable distance, but a great deal of work remains to build the strong, durable democratic system for which the Egyptian people launched their revolution. It will be critical to see a democratically elected parliament in place, and an inclusive process to draft a new constitution that upholds universal rights. The challenge remains of building institutions which will ensure that no matter who wins an election in any particular year, the rights of all Egyptians will always be protected. This challenge belongs not just to Egypt’s leaders but to its citizens as well.
Finally, tens of millions of Egyptians will be looking to President Morsi and the Cabinet he forms to take needed steps to advance national unity and build an inclusive government that embraces all of Egypt’s faiths and respects the rights of women and secular members of society. So will the international community. We are fully committed to working with Egypt’s President, its new government and all parties to sustain our partnership and advance our shared interest in a strong, democratic, and economically vibrant Egypt that is a force for peace and stability in the region.
Thank you very much.