USAID, OSCE Team Up to Help Azerbaijan Combat Human Trafficking and Promote Access to the Justice System
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Office in Baku on September 29th signed a grant agreement to collaborate on combating trafficking in persons and improving access to the justice system in Azerbaijan. Michael Greene, USAID Azerbaijan Mission Director, and Ambassador Koray Targay, Head of OSCE Office in Baku, signed the agreement.
Under the grant, USAID will support the OSCE’s efforts in the security and justice sectors. This will improve coordination and capacity among government and non-governmental officials in assisting victims of trafficking and forced labor, and train media to report on this topic. The grant will also fund legal resource centers in Sheki and Lankaran in providing free legal assistance and information to the public. The grant agreement will finance these activities from October 2011 to September 2013.
U.S Ambassador Matthew Bryza and Azerbaijan Chief of the Office on Struggle Against Human Trafficking Shikhaliyev Javad Suleyman attended the ceremony. Ambassador Bryza told attendees that the grant shows that, “The United States, in cooperation with the OSCE, is committed to helping our Azerbaijani partners combat this modern-day form of slavery.” He added that the OSCE Office in Baku will implement the cooperation with the Government of Azerbaijan and civil society, which will contribute significantly to combating trafficking in persons in Azerbaijan.
“USAID’s support for these two projects will enable the Government of Azerbaijan to improve its compliance with OSCE commitments,” said Ambassador Koray Targay. “Advancement in the security and justice sectors can help Azerbaijan build on the success of its recent development in the energy sector to create a hospitable environment for pluralistic democracy, human rights and economic prosperity for many years to come.”
I want to thank USAID for sponsoring today’s conversation on Business and Human Rights which I believe to be a critical human rights issue in this day and age. I am honored to be on such an esteemed panel and am very pleased to see many familiar and new faces here today. All of you have helped shape this conversation and many have helped governments, including the U.S. government, come to grips with the challenges and opportunities in this field. Business and human rights is especially important in today’s world where non-governmental actors – whether companies, NGOs or armed extremist groups — have increasing power to do good or ill. And often they are operating outside of government control or even influence.
Traditionally, human rights law has focused on governments – the duty of governments to protect the fundamental human rights of their citizens. But this is no longer enough. The global business community has grown in power and influence, and so must its responsibility for protecting human rights.
Today, half of the world’s 100 largest economies are private companies. The other half are the economies of nations. What this means is that when we measure corporate annual revenues and compare them to the gross domestic product of countries, half of the corporations are as large as nations. If Wal-Mart were a nation, its annual revenues this year would rank it roughly 30th in the world – ahead of Malaysia, Belgium, Nigeria and Sweden. And this isn’t a fluke, it’s a pattern. The Fortune 500 companies have continued to grow despite the global recession.
In this emerging global economy many of the rules of the road have yet to be written. This is a moment in time when smart, thoughtful and creative action by governments, NGOs, and companies is urgently needed.
In terms of human rights, there are four broad areas that deserve greater attention:
• First, manufacturing supply chains and their labor practices;
• Second, security and human rights in zones of armed conflict, especially with respect to the extractive industries;
• Third, labor and other human rights issues in the agricultural sector; and
• Fourth, the role of the private sector with respect to free expression on the Internet.
In each of these areas there is an important role for governments to play, often in close collaboration with companies themselves, but also civil society organizations. Now, governments alone cannot answer all of these challenges or regulate in all of these areas. But we also cannot assume that companies, acting alone, will always do the right thing.
The U. S. government is committed to working with the private sector, civil society, and governments as allies and partners to make human rights a reality, especially in those places where governments struggle to impose rule of law and companies face the difficult task of taking principled actions. So we all must be looking for alternative ways to build new global rules of the road.
As we all know, many corporations operate in some of the toughest territories in the world, in places where the discovery of natural wealth can fuel bitter conflict.
It is not easy for a company to take on responsibility for respecting human rights. But especially in places where governments may be too weak or unwilling to enforce the rule of law and protect individuals’ rights, companies often find themselves acting as the first line in promoting best practices for human rights. It is the job of governments to support companies in making the right choices. One way to do this is by facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogues to identify and address problems inherent in a particular sector or region.
The international community has developed many mechanisms to address business and human rights.
I’d like to recognize the longtime contributions of the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Human Rights, Transnational Corporations, and Other Business Enterprises, John Ruggie, who has been a conceptual leader on these issues. At the Human Rights Council session that ended in June, Professor Ruggie presented his final report as Special Representative: The Guiding Principles for the Implementation of the UN Protect, Respect, and Remedy Framework organized around three foundational principles:
• First, the state duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business;
• Second, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and
• Third, the need for victims to have access to remedies.
The Guiding Principles were developed and were embraced by all groups following extensive consultation with government, corporate actors, and a wide range of civil society actors. As a result, they offer a common platform and plan of action for the global community in advancing human rights where they intersect with business.
But, translating his vision into action requires a commitment from companies, governments and civil society to cooperate on the hard issues.
As a government, we now must pursue the crucial next phase- implementation – with diligence, creativity and resources to ensure that we reach our ultimate goal: Improving the lives of people around the world. The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State is currently exploring how we can support targeted high impact projects to advance John’s work.
We also believe in the potential of multi-stakeholder initiatives as a mechanism to address these tough issues.
It is my experience that companies are much better positioned to address human rights concerns when they work in a multi-stakeholder environment that includes not only other companies, but also civil society, academics, investors, and sometimes governments. This approach is critical because it creates a forum for invested actors to confront evolving human rights challenges, and because it provides a way to demonstrate the value of these processes through an accountability mechanism. Like the Ruggie Framework, these multi-stakeholder initiatives can also fill the void where governments can’t or won’t live up to their duty to protect their citizens.
But for multi-stakeholder initiatives to work, the standards they set must be clear, specific, and backed by a credible monitoring mechanism. The initiatives themselves need sound rules of the road, in the form of a comprehensive governance structure. And they need to be implemented, monitored, verified, and evaluated in a way that is transparent and encourages compliance.
So let me walk you through a few examples of multi-stakeholder initiatives.
The Fair Labor Association is a good example of what can be done. It’s a collaboration between companies, colleges and universities, and civil society organizations, that has been improving working conditions in factories around the world since 1999. The FLA has developed a Workplace Code of Conduct, and created a practical process for monitoring, remediation, and verification and a third-party complaint mechanism. As a result of all of these steps, the FLA has succeeded in strengthening worker protections at hundreds of factories, from Bangladesh to Mexico.
For the past 10 years, the United States and many people in this room have been working together on another initiative, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. As you may know, the VPs provides guidance to extractive companies on maintaining the safety and security of their operations in a manner that respects human rights. The VPs are the only human rights guidelines designed specifically for the oil, gas, and mining industries. Because these industries frequently work in areas where central governments are weak and human rights are all too often trampled, this administration is committed to strengthening the VPs to maximize its impact in these tough environments. We are working to create a sound governance structure as well as an external monitoring mechanism, so that it can meet these very real challenges.
And, of course, we continue to work on the urgent crisis over conflict minerals in the Great Lakes region of Africa. As you know, the U.S. Congress has recently passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,
which aims to break the links between the illicit trade in natural resources in the Great Lakes region and the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. President Obama signed it into law last year. The law requires companies that use tin, tantalum, tungsten or gold in their products to publicly disclose whether any of those minerals originated in the DRC or an adjoining country. If so, the company must provide a report of the measures taken to exercise due diligence on the source and chain of custody of the minerals, including an independent audit to verify conditions of work in the supply chain. While the law is requires companies to report publicly on their procedures, we hope it will eventually lead to a conflict-free supply chain of minerals from the region.
Another area where we are working is in developing a new International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers. 125 members of industry have all signed on to this Code of Conduct which requires them to respect human rights regarding, among other things, the use of force, detention, torture, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, forced labor and discrimination. We fully support this nascent organization, which is doing its due diligence to set up a strong architecture of accountability and transparency by establishing a robust certification procedure and a credible grievance mechanism.
Finally, I want to talk about an issue that is fundamentally important to the intersection of business and human rights: Internet Freedom.
We urge all companies, U.S. and international, to consider the human rights implications of their actions, and the Internet is of course a critical area of concern these days. Secretary Clinton has put Internet freedom on the map as a key diplomatic priority. At its core Internet freedom concerns a set of human rights — the right of freedom of expression, the right to peaceful assembly, the right to freedom of association. We must consider how these rights apply to new technologies and the steps that governments and business need to take to protect and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
By now, every government understands the power of ordinary citizens to harness the Internet and social media to organize and express themselves.
Some have embraced these new technologies as a way to connect with and serve their citizens. Others are redoubling their attempts to control them.
We are witnessing the rise of cyber attacks on the computers of independent media, Distributed Denial of Service attacks on the sites of watchdog groups, and other attempts to thwart the work of civil society.
We are seeing the development of more sophisticated tools for cyber-repression, including filtering, surveillance, anti-circumvention, and network-disabling technologies by government security forces in closed societies.
This is one of those hard problems I spoke of earlier. I don’t have all the answers, and neither does the U.S. government. But I do believe that the multi-stakeholder approach is the right way to discuss and address these emerging challenges.
Thank you very much.
U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Initiatives Melanne Verveer visited a group of 18 women entrepreneurs in a poor Jakarta community. These women had started or expanded their businesses with U.S. guaranteed micro-financing loans. The women operate small businesses, ranging from a goat farm to a store that sells basic food items. Most are businesses that the women run from their homes.
“These women are great examples of how a small amount of financing can spark the entrepreneurial spirit and empower women,” explained Ambassador Verveer.
Ambassador Verveer visited the women entrepreneurs during a two-day visit to Jakarta. She also met with women businessmen and civil society activists. Support for women entrepreneurs is part of the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in November 2010.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a four-year, $13 million loan portfolio guarantee with PT Bank Andara last year to stimulate more loans to small rural bank and non-bank financial institutions. These institutions, in turn, provide loans to Indonesian micro and small enterprises that serve the needs of the poor in Indonesia. USAID agreed to guarantee a loan portfolio of up to $6.5 million.
Bank Andara is loaning to microfinance institutions that they consider pro-poor. Such institutions are comprised of women and youth groups, farmers and disadvantage individuals. Bank Perkreditan Rakyat (BPR) is one such bank. The BPR has 3,704 women borrowers which represents 76% of their total customer base. The amount of the average loan to a woman is about 3 million IDR (est. $350 USD) usually to support small stores set up before their homes.
USAID anticipates that this program will provide positive examples to spur larger commercial banks to target microfinance and microenterprises and begin to lend to these potential clients.
The defining story of the Arab Spring belongs to Mohammed Bouazizi, the young Tunisian fruit seller who set himself on fire, in protest of the humiliation he had received at the hands of local police.
In one act of desperation-a figurative explosion made literal-he reminded us that deep within every soul lies a desire for self-determination and its ensuing dignity. And he began a chain reaction that has changed the world we know.
The authoritarian winter that had gripped the Arab world for so long, finally began to thaw. Even though protestors in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and eventually Syria met deadly resistance to their calls for freedom, the Arab Spring had begun.
It is a powerful story, one that resonates in all of us whether it stirs our empathy or calls us to the streets. It shows the power that individual human acts have to cause global and generational change.
But there is more to the Tunisian story.
Bouazizi’s story doesn’t mention the hundreds of protesters who rushed to the mayor’s office immediately after he set himself aflame. It doesn’t highlight their internal debate, as they first chanted “Dignity before bread!” before settling on the anti-corruption call: “Working is a duty, you thieves.”
It doesn’t describe the fearlessness protestors showed when fired upon by Tunisian police, or the thousands of young bloggers and amateur cell phone filmmakers who documented this violence and organized rallies on Facebook.
And it doesn’t mention Rachid Ammar, the commanding general of the Tunisian Army who refused to order his troops to fire on protestors gathered in the capital. The day after General Ammar’s brave decision, President Ben Ali fled.
That larger story-one of supporting people’s desires for freedom and dignity, of determining the path of progress, of using technology to unite people, of empowering leaders to make courageous stands-is what I’d like to speak about today.
As a voice for vulnerable people around the world, I believe USAID can and should play a larger role.
President Obama and Secretary Clinton have both made clear that it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform and democratic transitions. As a result, we must work to elevate the importance of self-determination and human dignity in our foreign policy and in our approach to development.
For years, a criticism of USAID’s assistance has been that we’ve worked too closely with governments that refuse to respect the rights of their people…
…that we have taken direction from regimes, limiting our investment in civil society or democracy promotion so as not to upset strategic partners…
…that we have pulled our punches, complicit in unbalanced relationships between autocrats and their people.
These criticisms have some merit.
Despite being the world’s largest supporter of democracy, rights and governance assistance, we still act as though democracy and development are two different objectives.
Because we fear pro-democracy orthodoxy will limit our ability to work in countries with unsavory leaders, we prioritized economic growth.
And as gutsy as we’ve been in places like Zimbabwe, in other countries where foreign governments limited the scope of our democracy, rights and governance promotion, we worked in the margins.
But as the President made clear in his recent speech, we are living in a new world, with a new paradigm of national interest that tracks more closely to our national values.
We cannot rely on the unsustainable stability provided by autocrats, or limit our assistance to groups that have been endorsed by governments. Instead, we will seek real democratic reform as a means to further peace and give people the ultimate voice in their own destiny and development.
USAID’s work must reflect a deeper understanding of the words “country ownership.” Instead of equating a country with its government, have to partner much more closely with an entire range of stakeholders: parliaments, opposition parties, civil society and most crucially, the citizens themselves.
More than any other Agency or Department, our main relationship with foreign countries is with their people, whether we empower a girl in Afghanistan to attend school for the first time, or provide shelter to a family in Haiti.
That personal level of interaction gives us a significant advantage to play the long game of political reform. By working to empower citizens and shape institutions and power structures over time, we can support a person’s call for self-determination and dignity in a way other institutions can’t.
That advantage is one we must assert across the countries in which we work, as we help citizens express their desire for freedom, organize behind their beliefs, broadcast their views and ultimately elect their leaders.
But to effectively play that long game, we must move past some of the unwarranted tensions that exist between the development and democracy communities, integrating the best lessons of each into a united approach.
We should not wage decades-old debates about whether democracy or development should proceed first; about dignity before bread or bread before dignity. As the Arab Spring has reminded us, economic prosperity and political freedom must go hand in hand.
This isn’t to say that democracy is necessary for economic growth-to ignore the experience of China and Vietnam. But for every country that manages to grow quickly without embracing democracy, there are five dictators who consign their countries to economic and political despair.
Even when growth does occur in dictatorships, it can be frighteningly uneven. Over the past decade, Equatorial Guinea has grown faster per capita than any other country, even China. Yet over 70% of its population still lives in dire poverty.
Growth that is not broad-based or equitable, that empowers leaders to mistreat their people, that enriches oligarchs while missing the poor, is just a statistic that has little bearing on the well-being of citizens.
For instance, around the world, we have seen spectacular gains in infant and maternal mortality over the last 15 years. More mothers are giving birth safely and more children are living past their fifth birthday than at any time in history.
But the rare countries that aren’t seeing that progress all have one thing in common: they are dictatorships. We can no longer seriously address problems like child death or famine without a willingness to confront corruption and autocracy.
I don’t claim this is easy to do. Our industry is full of incentives designed to keep assistance dollars flowing, even to countries where corruption undermines its effectiveness. Efforts to pull back support in an attempt to make assistance conditional are often met with criticism.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation and the UK’s Department for International Development have both worked to change this perception, emphasizing that assistance works best when tied to demands for strong democratic and governance reforms.
This is a movement we will embrace at USAID. If we wish to be a credible supporter of sustainable growth and progress-if we hope to expand opportunity to the people we serve-then we must work to support both democratic and economic empowerment. We must help countries deliver democracy with a dividend.
Delivering democracy with a dividend means breaking down the wall that has long existed between development practitioners and democracy, rights and governance experts.
I come from the development world, and I’ve both lived and witnessed the struggles our community has embracing and emphasizing the importance of democracy, rights and governance in our work.
Development practitioners must understand that without capable, transparent and accountable public institutions…
…without political stability or property rights…
…without fighting corruption and graft…
…without lowering the investment risk that private-sector partners face…
…our development work cannot achieve the sustainable results we seek.
Now, any close look at our budget will show that in many countries facing difficult democratic and governance challenges, the bulk of our assistance is devoted to our Presidential initiatives: primarily Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative.
But we mustn’t let that budget scenario mean we shortchange the necessity of expanding democracy, rights and governance.
Improving the quality of public institutions, enhancing government accountability, addressing corruption and giving citizens the opportunity to vote out ineffective leadership are all crucial to fighting poverty, eliminating hunger and improving health.
Without political reform, we’re not helping to develop countries; we’re delivering services, undermining our chances for long-term success.
Therefore, we must be innovative in how we allocate our funding so we can support the governance structures necessary to accelerate and sustain economic empowerment.
Here, PEPFAR can serve as a useful model. In Kenya, a PEPFAR grant was used to train, mentor and provide ongoing support to journalists to educate the public on effective HIV prevention and treatment methods.
These journalists used a number of media-print, photography, radio, television and new media-to effectively transmit their message. And over time, they matured into some of the best journalists on the continent.
Those same journalists went on to cover Kenya’s disputed presidential election and subsequent political crisis, using the skills they learned to draw the world’s attention. Today, three of them are up for CNN’s African Journalist of the year award.
Not only can smart investments in democracy, rights and governance offer immediate support to the goals of our development initiatives, they can live on, supporting freedom and transparency in the long run.
That’s why today, I am announcing a second track of funding within our Presidential initiatives. Using the resources we have already committed to the Initiatives, we will create a new, formal funding channel to offer resources for democracy, rights and governance programming, designed to improve the sustainability and effectiveness of these efforts.
In Ethiopia, we are making democratic governance a core part of our Feed the Future strategy. We know that effective land and natural resource management not only spurs agricultural growth, it reduces tensions and empowers citizens.
And in Rwanda, our Global Health Initiative is working to expand the transparency of the country’s health system. Under a nationwide performance-based financing program, health facilities must submit payment requests for the services they record in patient registers. Members of the community work with the Health Ministry to verify that individuals actually received the services claimed.
By raising expectations and eliminating fraud, that simple act of verification has led to meaningful gains in access to health services. We immediately saw a 23% increase in birth attendance at health facilities that participated in the initiative. Because Rwandans trusted their doctors, they visited them more often.
Just as our development portfolio must be informed by our democracy, rights and governance work, so too must our democracy work reflect the best lessons of sustainable development.
The most critical lesson is that our efforts must be evidence-based and subject to evaluation. The idea that democratic empowerment is somehow too intangible to measure, too complex to base on data or evidence or too pure to escape scrutiny, is false.
Moving forward, our work in democracy, rights and governance will measure performance to determine what really works; rely on that data to generate the best possible returns; harness the power of science, technology and innovation to speed progress; and be redirected if we find it to be ineffective.
With consultation with our partners in Congress, we plan to launch a new democracy, rights and governance Center of excellence, designed to become the heart of evidence-based research in the field.
We already have some sense that democracy, rights and governance investment can alter a country’s democratic trajectory. A 2008 study we commissioned by the University of Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt showed that for every $10 million investment USAID made in expanding political reform, we saw a measureable increase in the amount of democratic change a country could otherwise expect, as measured by Freedom House indicators.
But we want to deepen that understanding. What the MIT Poverty Action Lab has done for development effectiveness, our Center of Excellence can do for democratic effectiveness.
We will invite leading scholars from a range of fields-political scientists, sociologists, practitioners and economists alike-to work with us to study, analyze and rate the effectiveness of our initiatives and programs, using this data to shape our programming.
We will increasingly rely on public opinion survey data , using the demands of populations to shape our strategies, assessments, programs and evaluations.
The Center’s first task will be to provide a comprehensive medium- and long-term democracy, rights and governance analysis of our priority countries so we can integrate these findings into our country strategies.
We will work closely with our staff in the field, our colleagues in the interagency and our colleagues on the Hill to make the Center an effective shared resource.
The Center will also play a key role in our agency-wide procurement reforms, from analyzing the effects of our direct assistance to ensuring our implementing partners meet standards of responsibility and behavior. For example, we have made sure that all our contractors and sub-contractors comply with strict anti-trafficking regulations or face serious consequences.
This work has been greatly informed by our history of work preventing trafficking in persons. Over ten years ago, we partnered with MTV to create MTV-EXIT-a broad multimedia initiative that was designed to combat trafficking in women and girls for sexual exploitation.
Through documentaries, public service announcements, social networking and even music videos, MTV EXIT produced vivid and arresting messages about the tragedy of human trafficking.
Since that first engagement, we helped expand the program globally, while broadening its emphasis. Today in Asia, the program focuses on labor trafficking and forced servitude, in addition to sex trafficking.
MTV-EXIT now reaches 300 million households worldwide and has led to greater collaboration between NGOs and governments on anti-trafficking efforts in countries throughout the world.
MTV-EXIT is also a great example of using innovative approaches and new forms of communication to help people around the world communicate ideas, raise awareness and expose atrocities.
In Azerbaijan, in response to near complete government control of traditional media but free access to new media, we’re investing to build unrestricted high-speed Internet hubs throughout universities and villages in the country, so citizens can create their own new content. These hubs give Azeri’s the freedom to read objective news and express their own voices online, while simultaneously building the skills of the country’s youth.
When I visited India last year with President Obama, I learned about a USAID-sponsored program that encouraged students to use mobile phones to fight teacher truancy.
When teachers fail to show up for class-an all too common occurrence in developing countries-students send a text message to the local school administration. This reporting has helped to dramatically reduce absenteeism, from 25 percent to just three percent.
But there may be no better example of maximizing the power of technology to hold governments accountable than Videre, a partner who joins us here today. In its groundbreaking work, Videre has used social media to expose political and ethnic violence and human rights abuses.
Recognizing that the most powerful soldier in the fight for human rights holds a camera, not a gun, Videre has trained citizens to document, publicize and share footage of abuses and atrocities, raising awareness and shaming governments into action.
By offering this integrated approach between development and democracy, we can ensure our assistance helps expand rights and improve governance, laying the foundations for democratic change.
But we must acknowledge that our assistance can also lead to unintended consequences. Assistance can become a rent-much like resource wealth-that creates incentives to limit progress or slow political reform.
We have a responsibility to limit the potential harm of our assistance. As part of USAID Forward, we developed a financial risk assessment to evaluate our government-to-government assistance. This isn’t just an accounting exercise; in Malawi, we chose not to provide funds to government ministries because we could not guarantee they would reach the people we intended to serve.
We will expand that assessment to include an analysis on the impact of USAID’s government-to-government assistance on democratic freedom, public financial management, transparency and rights.
This democratic credit check will determine whether our investment could empower a government at the expense of its people. If so, we will explore options to redirect our funding around the government, through other partners.
And just as we will offer Malawi the support to improve their financial accountability, so too will we provide governments the support they need to improve their democratic accountability.
Some may find that proposal controversial.
But we must continue to engage with and incentivize government leaders to seek broader freedoms. At a time when many developing countries are growing at double-digit rates, the idea that we can encourage reform solely through conditionality is unrealistic.
We must discover new ways to encourage and support the behavior we promote, not simply condemn and limit the behavior we dislike.
One organization committed to encouraging good leadership is the Africa Governance Institute, spearheaded by Tony Blair. Recognizing that poor governance is not always an issue of intention, but often of capacity, the Institute works to support governments by helping them identify priorities, act against them and expand the reach of reform.
Beginning this year, we will fund a partnership between the Institute and the Government of Sierra Leone’s. This assistance will help President Koroma strengthen his country’s institutions, while deepening his leadership bench.
In the end, our assistance is no substitute for the leadership necessary to drive through reform. We must promote, build and nurture leadership so that governments have a realistic chance to provide results.
And we must realize that foreign leaders face enormous pressure to satisfy multiple constituencies, while operating with limited resources and capacity. Understanding that complex political reality will help us shape our assistance in more effective ways. As Prime Minister Blair has said “If we miss the politics, we miss the point.”
I realize what I’ve called for today is not easy to implement. For decades, an integrated approach to democracy and development work and a rational approach to partnering with governments have eluded our community.
But today, the Arab Spring has given us an unprecedented opportunity to address the aspirations and respect the dignity of people whose freedom has been denied for a generation.
Playing that role will require recognizing some tough truths about the pace of progress and the scope of what can be accomplished.
Rather than drastically overestimating what we can do in the short-term-that we can deliver democracy tomorrow-USAID will focus on the medium- and long-term, prioritizing our opportunities to create vibrant democracies. We will work closely with people in the region to shape the institutions and built the checks and balances that will support their political future.
This approach reflects much of what we learned in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989. Despite successful work in countries like Poland and Estonia to expand democratic governance, transformation still took years, with several disappointments along the way. Retrenchment, the success of communist and ultranationalist political parties, and of course, ethnic violence and genocide all reared their head.
Countries that confronted past crimes were able to expand the rule of law, form better relationships with regional neighbors and improve local governance and transparency. Poland’s state institution on historical memory-modeled after Germany’s-helped inspire a vibrant free press, while President Medvedev has recently acknowledged the ghosts of the past still haunt Russia’s attempts to modernize.
In countries throughout the Middle East, we are already witnessing brutal crackdowns and repression. In fledgling democracies, developing coherent political parties, settling grievances and overcoming internal divisions will pose tremendous challenges. And when countries that have undergone revolutions do hold open elections, we will likely see statist or Islamist parties do well at the polls-an outcome nearly preordained by past dictatorships.
Recognizing that the seeds of revolution may take years or even decades to flower, we must do what we can to ensure that one day, they bloom.
In Tunisia, we should look to the Estonian experience; a country whose embrace of democratic rights, innovation and e-government has led to rapid growth and EU and NATO accession.
With similar starting conditions-a small country with a highly educated population and a tolerance for religious and women’s rights-Tunisia has the opportunity to become a model democracy for the Arab world and an enduring foundation for change in the region.
Our government-USAID included-will play a sustained role in seeing the country’s transition through, giving credibility to the source of the Arab Spring’s inspiration. We will work closely with governments, partners, private foundations and staff in Eastern Europe to share their experience with the people of Tunisia.
We are already taking this approach in Egypt, where USAID sponsored a delegation of transition experts from Chile, Romania and Serbia to consult with political leaders and civic activists.
We will also continue to reform our assistance to focus on empowering Egypt’s people, extending our partnership to a far broader number of NGOs and local groups. We will embrace civil society and help people engage directly in the political process, supporting constitutional reform and empowering women and youth.
In Libya, where the United States joined an international coalition to prevent an imminent massacre, we’ve seen the opposition launch a legitimate and credible interim council. Over the past two months, USAID teams have been in Benghazi, assessing the current needs of this emerging government. Our work today will solidify a meaningful transition to democracy when Gaddafi is forced from power.
As the United States and USAID work to reorient our assistance to the Middle East and North Africa, many are asking us about the ultimate prize of the Arab Spring.
It’s easy to look at the expansion of democracy and progress that has occurred in Eastern Europe and envision a similar future: a region that is peaceful, prosperous and free.
But as we think of the prize of democratic transition in grand terms, we must not lose sight of what expanded dignity and freedom means for the individual.
Development practitioners-myself included-fall victim to defining human welfare solely in terms of GDP, hunger or mortality. So great is our passion to expand the opportunity for people to live healthy, productive lives, that it clouds our appreciation of political freedom.
I know how deeply my concern runs when I see a starving child or a young girl sick with HIV. I know how angry witnessing that very tangible and very unnecessary suffering makes me. I think of my own children-all three young, all three healthy, all three with limitless potential-and question why we can’t deliver that same opportunity everywhere.
But I take for granted that my own children’s opportunity is guaranteed not just by a vaccine or a good education, but by the fact they grow up in a free and fair society…
…that if they are wronged, they can seek amends…
…that if they are mistreated, they can protest…
…that if their representatives fail them, they can vote them out of office.
Clear in the faces of the protestors in Cairo and Damascus, in Tehran and Rangoon, is that the greatest pain of all may not come from illness or hunger… but from a dream deferred.
The greatest rage may not arise from a fallow field, but from a powerless citizen.
The greatest ache may not come from a preventable disease, but from a soul that yearns to breathe free.
We must remember that when we invest in a smallholder farmer in Uganda, we invest in an entrepreneur with a growing interest in a free society. When we help a mother safely give birth, we expand her stake in the future. When we support the rights of citizens to vote a corrupt leader out of office, we are helping them assert their dignity.
If we can expand our engagement with citizens, if we can successfully integrate democracy, rights and governance into our broader development portfolio and if we can embrace the momentous opportunity presented by the Arab Spring, than we can deliver this truer understanding of human welfare.
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Women in Balochistan improve family diets and earn extra cash
A girl in Mastung District stands by her family’s new chicken coop, where the chickens stay to beat the midday heat.
“Before these chickens, we couldn’t afford to buy eggs. Now we can get eggs at home,” said Bibi Amna from Ghausabad village in Mastung District, Balochistan.
The rugged Mastung District in Pakistan’s Balochistan province is a vast desert — a sparsely populated area stretching across 6,045 square kilometers. Plagued by drought and poverty, residents subsist on farming and livestock. Wheat forms the staple of their diet, supplemented by lentils and vegetables. Chicken and eggs, when available, provide the only animal protein in local diets. Meat is a luxury reserved for special occasions or guests. “For some people, 100,000 rupees ($1660) is not a large sum. But for us, even 5 rupees is a lot,” said Qaim Khan, an elderly man from Ghausabad village in Mastung.
To help local households improve both nutrition and income, USAID funded a program that trains women in raising poultry and sells them poultry at subsidized rates. Eighty women in Mastung each received 20 chickens and roosters, vaccinations and 50 kg of feed for about 1,000 rupees ($16), at 25 percent of actual cost. This breed of poultry survives on kitchen scraps and withstands arid environments. Now, women cook eggs to supplement their family’s diet and sell the rest at market rates. Some, like Bibi Fehmida of Ghausabad village, are raising chicks from the original roost. “Before these chickens, we couldn’t afford to buy eggs. Now we can get eggs at home,” said Bibi Amna of Ghausabad. “And when the men are out, we still have some cash of our own.”
More than 300 women in three districts have trained in rural poultry management. In Mastung, the women continue to benefit from their first investment. Bibi Khadija of Kila Khandawa village sells eggs she doesn’t use to neighbors or bakeries for 3 or 4 rupees each, making 60 rupees ($1) a week. Khairunissa uses her weekly earnings to buy cooking oil, tea, and sugar. Others use the extra cash to pay off loans they took out to buy the chickens. Along with other USAID programs in water management and drought-resistant seed cultivation, the poultry program is helping rural communities in Balochistan meet their financial, nutritional, and household needs.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
Cheryl Mills, Counselor
Dean Acheson Auditorium
MS. MILLS: Good morning. Wow, this is fabulous, most particularly because it’s someone else that the Secretary gets to play with nonstop now that you guys are here.
First of all, I want to say good morning and welcome to the first Global Chief of Mission Conference. We are so delighted you are here, and more importantly than saying welcome to the conference, welcome home. It is so nice to see so many of you. My name is Cheryl Mills. For those of you all who I haven’t had the chance to meet personally, I’m the Counselor and Chief of Staff here at the Department.
And we have really been looking forward to this. We have been looking forward to this not only because we would like to sleep after it’s over, but because this really has been something that has been critical to the Secretary for some time. She really wanted to have the opportunity for all of us to be able to gather in one place so we could talk about what it is and how we can build on the things that we do well, what are the opportunities to improve those things that we think we really could do better, and most importantly, what are we missing and what are the ways in which we can identify those things we are missing in a fashion that means we are all more effective on behalf of the country that we are privileged to serve.
In that vein, I do want to talk about the fact that this really is designed to be the best opportunity not only to share information with you, but also to listen and learn from you. And that really is an invitation that you should just walk right through the door of. I hope you take it very seriously because at bottom, what we’re really trying to reduce, if I’m being quite selfish, is the number of times we get a call saying, “Why is Washington doing this?” And invariably, you all have better ideas and better thoughts about how we could do it better and well. And so it would be great if we were limiting the number of those and increasing the number of times we actually were doing the right and smart thing with the benefit of your guidance and your leadership and your participation. So that’s our goal, and I hope that you all help us reach our goal.
So before I introduce the Secretary, I do want to thank, as my family always says, the hands that prepared it, and in this case, the hands that have been helping to prepare for this conference. And they include many people, but I particularly want to make sure I thank Shawn Baxter and Bernadette Meehan, Marguerite Coffey, Ruth Whiteside, Leslie Moeller, and of course, the incomparable Pat Kennedy and Steve Mull who have been working tirelessly to help bring all of this together. I also want to thank everybody else who has been helping to make this successful.
Now, with that, it is my pleasure to introduce the woman who has been really looking forward to seeing you, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. Thank you. It is such a pleasure to welcome all of you back to Washington for the first ever, in American history, all-hands-on-deck ambassadorial conference. Chiefs of Mission from every corner of the world who may not ever get a chance to meet each other or exchange ideas are here today for the gathering that we have been looking forward to.
We’ve wanted to do this for some time. We figured early February would be quiet, not much going on. (Laughter.) What better time to pull you from your posts and responsibilities? And, of course, Margaret Scobey from Egypt is not here. But I am very grateful that we’re going to have a chance for you to interact with the senior leadership of the Department. I will be back tomorrow afternoon for a Q&A session, and I want everybody to be fully prepared. Today, you will have a chance to hear from Mike Mullen – Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs at lunch – who will make remarks and do a Q&A. And we have some other surprises along the way.
It is, for me, a great honor to look out and see a lot of faces that are familiar to me from the traveling that I’ve already done as Secretary of State, and of course, the traveling that I did in my prior lives. And the level of professionalism and commitment is never-endingly impressive. And as we see with what’s going on today, recent events in Egypt and certainly in that broader region, remind us all how crucial it is to have top-notch leadership on the ground, and how quickly that ground can shift under our feet. So whether your mission is large or small, whether you’re a political appointee or a career diplomat, you are all on the front lines of America’s engagement with a fast-changing world. And that’s why we think this conference is so important.
It goes without saying – but I will say it anyway – that this is a critical time for America’s global leadership. We have spent two years renewing our alliances, forging new partnerships, and elevating diplomacy and development alongside defense as pillars of American foreign policy and national security. Now, as we look to the next two years, it is time to build on that progress and deliver results – results that are expected from ourselves and certainly from the Congress and the American public.
We’re going to be looking to see how we can advance America’s interests and values on security, on climate change, on boosting exports and rebalancing the global economy on all of our core priorities. But I will hasten to say we face a very difficult budget climate and we face an increasingly complex, no easy answers if there ever were any, diplomatic and development environment. From the theft of confidential cables to 21st century protest movements to development breakthroughs that have the potential to change millions of lives, we are all in uncharted territory, and that requires us to be more nimble, more innovative, and more accountable than ever before.
That is why we launched the first ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the so-called QDDR. Now, many of you participated in this process and you contributed valuable suggestions and ideas, your staffs were deeply involved, and we consulted not only thousands of people within State and USAID directly and indirectly, but also hundreds of experts outside government. And the result is a sweeping report that we hope will fundamentally change the way we do business.
The reason I decided to direct us to undertake the difficult challenge posed by producing the first-ever QDDR is because as a senator, I served on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And every four years, the Pentagon would produce the Quadrennial Defense Review. And it was a very effective organizing tool for the Pentagon because it set forth what their assessments were and what their commitments were in a way that kind of guided the legislative and appropriations process.
At the same time, both from my years as First Lady and as Senator, I often saw State and USAID coming in on separate tracks, making different arguments, fighting over scarcer resources, not coming up with the kind of organizing blueprint that would move people into a decision process that would benefit our immediate and long-term goals. So the QDDR is a first-time effort, but it is a blueprint and it is a blueprint as to how the United States can lead in a changing world through the use of what I call civilian power. That is the combined force of all the civilians across the United States Government who not only practice diplomacy and carry out development projects, but who act to prevent and respond to crisis and conflict.
You know very well, because you practice it every day, how crucial civilian power is to America’s leadership in the world and to our national security. I don’t need to tell this audience what I tell other audiences all the time – that it is our diplomats and development experts who can diffuse crises before they explode, who can create new opportunities for economic growth, who can stand up for universal values and human rights, who can help us find partners to advance economic growth that is inclusive and prosperity-producing.
We can come up with solutions that might otherwise require or suggest military action. And where we work side-by-side with our military partners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other fragile states around the world, we can be the partner that our military needs and deserves. And that’s what Admiral Mullen will speak to. Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates have been two of our biggest boosters and advocates. Secretary Gates gave a now very well-received and even famous speech about the need for enhancing our diplomatic and development posture. And they have joined with me in asking the Congress for the funds that we need for the missions we’ve been given.
But this is not just about Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s not just about Egypt or Yemen. It’s not just about China or India. It is about every nation that you represent our country in. Because as chiefs of mission, you are at the heart of the QDDR’s vision for the future, and you will be at the core of its implementation. Let me be clear. This Department, USAID, I, our deputies, our under secretaries, assistant secretaries – we cannot do this from Washington. This has to live and breathe in you and through you. And that is what we are hoping to advance together.
Now, I know that some of you have concerns about the changes we are proposing and others of you may be skeptical about whether they can be implemented. Part of the reason for this conference is to hear those concerns and that skepticism. That’s the only way we can either answer them, do something about them, or, frankly, shift direction to take them into account. Nothing will get done by sitting on the sidelines. So I strongly encourage you to take this opportunity to put aside our normal diplomatic niceties and really engage in an open and candid discussion about the challenges we face and must meet. And you will have that opportunity in the public sessions we’ve arranged and in private encounters with any of the leadership or myself during the next two days.
Now, the QDDR covers a wide range of reforms, including a reorganization here in Washington, that will encourage us to be more cross-cutting and results-oriented and, frankly, significantly expand our capacity to prevent and respond to crises and conflicts. You’ll also hear from Ambassador Melanne Verveer about how we are attempting to integrate women into everything we do. That is not just a pet project of mine. That is rooted in decades of evidence about women being partners and participants in peacemaking, in economic opportunity, in participatory governance, and it’s something that we want to really understand how better to promote.
We are also making it easy to pursue new public-private partnerships. And our Special Representative for Global Partnerships Kris Balderston is here and we’re looking forward to talking with you. We’re doing a lot in that area. We would never have been able to participate in the Shanghai Expo – it would have been the United States and Andorra who did not have exhibit halls if we had not had exhibit halls if we had not had a public-private partnership that we jumped into as soon as I realized how embarrassed we were going to be, and we pulled it off.
We’re also driving a new innovation agenda. And Special Advisor Alec Ross will have more to say about that tomorrow. We call it 21st century statecraft. It is, by no means, a hundred percent clear that social media, technology, is going to make things better. But one thing we know for sure, it’s going to change things. And if we’re not on top of it and driving a message and responding as effectively as we can, we’re going to be left behind.
These and other changes are coming, some, including Administrator Raj Shah’s USAID forward agenda, is already well underway. Others are going to take time, and in each case, we look to ensure that we have the maximum impact here in D.C. and out in the field. We will be appointing an experienced FSO to work with Deputy Secretary Tom Nides to drive our implementation, and we will try to set deadlines and create some benchmarks as we go forward.
Now let me give you one example that we identified early and have been working on, which has now come to public attention. All too often, you and your officers are tied to desks fulfilling hundreds of reporting requirements mandated by both Congress and the Department. A new report from the Inspector General just underscored this problem. We believe this can and must change. So as part of the QDDR, we are consolidating or eliminating duplicative reports, making reports shorter and streamlining workloads. In a move sure to make Tom Nides popular with many of you, Tom has already signed off on a long list of reports that will either be eliminated or cut back in length.
When I realized – and I have to confess, as a senator, when in doubt, order a report. (Laughter.) When I saw the results of that, I was appalled; nothing like sitting in a different seat to see things from a different perspective. So we are doing everything we can. We intend to go to the Congress and instead of three reports on either the same or basically the same issues, see if we can’t drive it down in length. I want to adopt the George Marshall rule, which is that no report or memo should be more than two pages. So, we’re going to try to free up your teams to engage more actively – (applause) – with the world outside the embassy walls. And of course, the sad part is most of these reports are never read. So we are going to do our best to try to remedy that.
Now, nearly all of the most significant themes of the QDDR relate directly to you, chiefs of mission. As the President’s representative, you are responsible for directing and coordinating all U.S. personnel in your countries. And to effectively manage increasingly complicated operations with personnel drawn from all across the government, you have to truly be CEOs of multi-agency missions.
Now you’ve probably heard that phrase already, and some of you may be asking what it really means, especially those of you who acted as CEOs in your previous lives. I know the metaphor is imperfect, and I understand the limitations that you face on everything from personnel to planning to policy to budget, but we may not be under any illusions about the challenges you face, but we want to up our game, because we want the State Department and our chiefs of mission to claim the ground of being the leaders and coordinators of U.S. Government presence in every country where you serve. That is easier said than done. But I still think the CEO model is critical, because we’re really talking about leadership, especially interagency leadership.
As you know better than anyone, your embassies and consulates are increasingly staffed by experts from a wide range of U.S. agencies. Others operate in your countries with little contact with the embassy, and all of this creates bureaucratic headaches and sometimes real problems.
So what we are looking for is to work with you and hear and learn from you how we can better imbue you with the leadership, the position, the skills needed to take that chief of mission across the U.S. Government role and title seriously and implement it. And that means that each agency’s priorities have to be integrated into a single mission that inspires support and partnership.
To help you do that, we are clarifying reporting structures and allowing you to participate in performance reviews for all personnel at your mission regardless of agency. We’re going to offer new training in interagency cooperation, and going forward, we will prioritize interagency experience and talents as criteria for choosing and training chiefs of mission and deputy chiefs of mission. We also intend to increase your involvement in high-level policy deliberations here in Washington. Whenever possible, we want you to be able to participate via videoconference in deputies committee meetings, in the Situation Room, and in senior meetings here in the Department. It goes without saying, but your on-the-ground insights are invaluable, and it’s our loss if that perspective goes unheard.
We will also change the budget and planning process. Each chief of mission will be responsible for overseeing an integrated country strategy that will bring together all country-level planning processes and efforts into one single multiyear overarching strategy that encapsulates U.S. policy priorities, objectives, and the means by which diplomatic engagement, foreign assistance, and other tools will be used to achieve them.
I know it’s common practice just to roll over last year’s budget with a small increase. But you have not only the opportunity, but also the responsibility to rethink and reimagine your strategy, to advise us about where to invest in programs that work and end efforts that don’t, and to align your funding priorities with what is actually happening on the ground. You’ll hear from Judith McHale and our public diplomacy team, and some of you know from firsthand experience they have been working very hard to shift resources and positions out of countries where they are no longer needed to places where they are desperately required. I really know this is hard, but we have to do it.
When I became Secretary of State and we looked at what was going on in Pakistan, we did not have enough voices to be able to push back on every kind of outlandish, outrageous accusation that was made against the United States by the Pakistani media on an almost daily basis. In looking across the world, we saw countries that we’ve been at peace with for decades who had far more resources in a far easier, more permissive environment. And I want to commend the chiefs of mission who are here who worked with us to basically cut your own resource base. Because you understood that it wasn’t just better organizing and focusing what you were doing inside your own country of responsibility, but what we needed to do across the world to promote American values and interests.
Now, no one will get everything he or she wants; that’s a given. And we face the most difficult budgetary environment. This month, even though we are submitting an FY 2012 request that is a lean budget for lean times, we don’t even know what our 2011 levels are. And there is a great deal of push coming from the new Congress, particularly the House, to cut State and USAID to 2008 levels despite the fact that we are about to inherit an overwhelming responsibility in Iraq, which, if you did the math, the military would not be spending $41 billion and we would be asking to increase our budget by 4 billion, which sounds to me like a pretty good tradeoff. But the problem is that even if the Congress decides, “Okay, we’ll fund you for your overseas contingency operations, but we’re going to cut the base, we’re going to cut operating dollars,” we are going to be in a very difficult position.
Now, we have scrubbed our budget for every dollar of savings, and we have made very hard choices, and I ask you to help us. You can save money in your mission. You can change the way you’re doing things to be more efficient and cost-effective. We have shifted funds into programs that save money such as stronger monitoring and evaluation systems, efforts to consolidate information technology, procurement reform at USAID, targeted investments in innovative development programs. But we have to keep doing more and more to keep up with what will be a very tough set of choices coming out of congressional appropriations.
We are pressing ahead with requests for new positions and investments in our core priorities, because we are convinced that effective civilian power ultimately does save lives and money, and we need your help. And many of you either have already gone or will be going to the Hill, and I ask that you, in addition to talking about the particular situation in your country that is of interest to the member of Congress or senator or committee that has asked you to come forth, you make the case for how we need to be positioned to compete diplomatically and developmentally.
It is clear that we have some tough competition, and if we are not going to keep up with that competition, we are going to cede a lot of ground to others who are more than happy to occupy it. So what this is all about is not only talking at and with you, but hearing from you about what you think we all can do better. We really want to enhance the culture of leadership here in the Department to help you deal with the very real challenges you face.
I can remember traveling in the ‘90s and during the time I was a senator and often being at a mission and having people coming into a room representing the United States Government that was presided over by the chief of mission or the DCM, and people had never met each other. They had no real incentive or requirement to cooperate together. We had multiple procurement efforts running. We had duplicative equipment and materials. Those days are over. If we intend to do our job and sustain the support of the Congress, we have to be ahead of what will be a continuing drumbeat.
We know that there are those in the Congress who have even advocated eliminating all foreign aid, eliminating AID, and it’s going to take some outreach and education to discuss with them and lead them through our rationale. But I and we need to be in a position where we can say, “Look, we hear you. We grew quickly in the last two years, which we needed to do. We’d been stagnant. We didn’t have the resources, particularly the personnel. We needed to the jobs we were being asked to do, but we are extremely cautious and conscious about every dollar we spend.” And when we say that, we need to mean it, and we need to be able to back it up.
I hope that each and every one of you knows how much we value what you do every single day. And I hope you each know how important we believe what you’re doing is not only to fulfilling the work of the Department or AID, but of really representing, protecting, furthering American leadership. I am a big and – a big believer and a strong advocate of American leadership. I think that we have a tough road ahead, but it’s one we ought to be able to navigate together. I don’t think it is time for us to sort of pull in, but instead to push forward. And it really is going to be up to you.
You often are the people that brief the members of Congress who come to your countries. You often are the people who carry out our diplomacy. You are the people who oversee our foreign assistance and our USG efforts, and that’s why only you can take the priorities and objectives that we have set forth and formulate a coherent strategy.
I’m looking forward to continuing to work with you. I’ve had the privilege of being with many of you as I’ve traveled the last two years and look forward to even more in the two years ahead. But please help us make the most of this time.
I remember when I showed up at the White House, one of the long-serving butlers said to me, “Well, presidents and first ladies come and go, but butlers stay forever.” (Laughter.) And I know many of you will be serving with distinction long after I’m gone, and long after President Obama’s second term is gone. But we can’t just do it the way we’ve always done it. There are too many forces at work, some of which we are only beginning to understand – too many crosscurrents and complexity, which is why you’ve been chosen to do this job at this moment in American history.
So help us institutionalize the changes we need, change the structures that will support the kind of diplomacy and development our country deserves, help us to be sure we sustain American leadership and values, and we will do a great service on behalf of the country we love and serve together.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
The Ronald Reagan Building
March 9, 2011
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, everyone. What a wonderful way to start my day, to be here with all of you and talking about something which is so important. It goes, for me, without saying, but it’s nice to hear it said over and over again that America’s commitment to saving lives at birth and meeting the great challenges of development is not only the right thing to do, and derived from our moral obligations, but it is the smart, strategic decision to make as well.
And so I want to thank Raj for his leadership. It is a joy working with him, watching him lead, watching him bring the AID community together on behalf of the changes that are critically necessary in order to produce those results that we are all seeking. And I also am delighted to be here with Melinda, someone whom I admire so much, who has really rolled up her sleeves in every way imaginable to be a great champion for women and children, and to keep preaching the goal of innovation in order to maximize the impact of everything we do in the lives of those whom we serve.
It is, for me, a great honor to be a partner in this collaboration. I want to thank Dr. John Holdren, the President’s science advisor, for being here and for lending his support to AID’s innovation agenda. I want to thank Peter Singer from Grand Challenges Canada. It’s a real delight to be working with our Canadian friends on this matter as well as everything else that we partner on around the world. I want to thank Tore Godal from the Government of Norway, one of our strongest partners on every single imaginable cause, and we turn to Norway, which punches way above its weight all the time. I want to thank Tamar Atinc from the World Bank.
And as you look at the list of those organizations you’ll be hearing from in a minute, you can see that this truly is a collaboration, and that is how we think development has to be done going forward. We don’t want to be duplicating the good work of Canada or Norway. We don’t want to be just repeating what the Gates Foundation does so successfully. We want to coordinate so that we can have a better outcome from all of the efforts that we bring to the table.
So I’m delighted to be here during International Women’s Week to help launch Saving Lives At Birth, the first Grand Challenge for Development. I believe this partnership will spark revolutionary advances that can dramatically reduce maternal and newborn deaths around the world.
Now, you may have noticed there’s a lot going on in the world right now, and you don’t exactly see global health leading the nightly news. But it should be, because improving the health of people around the world isn’t separate or distinct from our foreign policy goals. Many of you have heard me say this over and over again, I’ve come here to AID and said it, I’ve said it on the Hill, I certainly say it all the time at the State Department and in the White House, but I can’t say it often enough, because I see it so clearly, it to me is absolutely the case that we must make. It is essential to our foreign policy goals and to advancing our national security. We invest in global health to strengthen fragile or failing states. We have seen the devastating impact that AIDS has on countries stripped of their farmers, their teachers, their soldiers, their health workers, their professionals, as well as leaving behind millions of orphaned and vulnerable children.
We see the impact that investing in global health has as it promotes social and economic progress and helps the rise of partners who can then turn around and work with us to solve regional and global problems, from climate change to violent extremism. And none of us needs to be reminded, I hope, of how quickly disease can spread in a world where every day, thousands of people step on an airplane in one continent and get off on another.
Now of course, there’s another reason why we do invest in global health. It is a powerful expression of who we are as Americans. It is simply unacceptable that millions and millions of people, women and children, die from conditions that we know how to prevent in a cost-effective way. So the Obama Administration has made a priority of improving health.
We are building on the work started by President Bush with the bipartisan support of Congress on HIV and malaria. We are increasing investments through our Global Health Initiative which sets ambitious new targets for progress and focuses our funding on the areas where we believe we can have the most impact. We’re intensely focused, as Raj has eloquently advocated, on reforms that deliver better results for less money, because we know in the 21st century our old approaches, as Melinda said, are not adequate. And it is somewhat ironic that in a time when 2 billion people have cell phones, we’re still kind of going along in the horse and buggy. We cannot permit that to continue.
Raj and his team – and there are a number of you here today – have put a special focus on advances in science and technology, breakthrough ideas that will drive down the cost of delivery and make it possible to reach more people and save more lives than ever before. We want to focus the world’s best researchers and thinkers on some of the toughest challenges.
Now, as all of you know, one of the toughest challenges is maternal and newborn health. It was wonderful hearing Raj talk about his newborn son, who joined his brother and his sister. But in the developing world, birth can be terrifying because the onset of labor begins a very risky period for both the mother and her baby. Every year, some 358,000 women die during childbirth – 1.2 million stillbirths and nearly a million more newborn deaths in just the first 48 hours after birth. So we’ve seen some progress, but those numbers are still shockingly high. I don’t want to live in a world where nearly 1,000 women die in childbirth every day. Every woman, whoever she is, wherever she lives, should be able to give birth without the fear she’s going to lose her baby or that her baby will lose her mother.
Now, to reach the kind of scale quickly that we’re talking about, we cannot solely rely on the traditional path of development – building roads, infrastructure, hospitals; training highly skilled doctors and nurses – because many of these deaths happen in the hardest to reach places, where there’s no reliable electricity or even clean water. We need new ideas that chart a different course, and here are some of those ideas of breakthroughs that we are focused on.
One breakthrough could help more women give birth with a skilled attendant. The evidence is clear that having a skilled attendant present during delivery greatly increases the chances of survival. Unfortunately, many women go without because they can’t afford to pay the attendant. But in Kenya and Uganda, government health agencies already offer women low-cost paper vouchers that subsidize this critical care. But we could reach far more women if we could distribute those vouchers via text messages. By harnessing the powerful ubiquitous development platform that Raj talked about, we could dramatically expand the reach of care, giving any woman with a cell phone the chance to deliver her child safely.
Another breakthrough could dramatically reduce birth asphyxia, problems with breathing that account for more than a quarter of the newborns who die at birth. Resuscitating a newborn can be a very delicate procedure, requiring significant training. So USAID and the National Institutes of Health partnered with Laerdal Medical to design and deliver a cheap resuscitation device that can be used with minimal training to help a newborn take her first breaths. This resuscitation device and the cell phone vouchers are the kind of simple, low-cost solutions that can become ubiquitous and make childbirth so much healthier.
We want to generate dozens of these out-of-the-box ideas. We’ve identified some of the biggest barriers. Through the Savings Lives At Birth Grand Challenge, we’re calling on the inventors and innovators, creative thinkers, whoever they are and whatever their expertise, to help us get beyond the barriers. Now, we’re not interested in technology for its own sake. We will target our funding toward advances that can work in the developing world. They have to be affordable, sustainable, and scalable in even the most remote villages. It might be a way to use cell phones to keep mothers up to date on the best ways to care for their babies and themselves, or a new method for recruiting, training, and paying community health workers, or a new system for identifying pregnant women with severe complications and creating a transportation network to take them to a clinic or hospital. We’re looking for dramatic impact that could increase access to healthcare for women and newborns by at least 50 percent. That is an ambitious goal, but that’s what makes it a Grand Challenge.
And this is just the beginning. There are so many other ways that we can benefit development through breakthroughs in science and technology. Imagine our collective wisdom working to provide lighting for the millions of people who live in darkness off the electric grid, or to educate children who will never, at this point in their lives, step foot inside a schoolhouse. So over the next two years, we’ll be announcing a series of other Grand Challenges. And if you’re a scientist or a technology expert or a dreamer or a creator or a garage inventor, keep your ears and eyes open.
And I just want to end by following up on something Raj said. Everyone knows that we’re in a difficult budget environment. And I have been to the Hill three times, I will go again tomorrow, to make the case for our State Department and USAID budget. I feel so strongly that we are at a turning point in the rebuilding of AID. I feel that the reforms that you are implementing, the ways you’re looking to make everything from procurement to technology more cost-effective, scrubbing contracts and contractors, really deserves support from the Congress. And I am trying to make that case in every way I know. But we need all of you. We need those of you who are not only at AID, but at the Gates Foundation, at our other partners to help us make the case. Because just when we feel like we have the inputs in better order and that we are poised to really go forth in the 21st century in keeping with the 50th anniversary of AID, we’re facing tremendous budget pressures.
This is a grand challenge for us to make a case for development and to make it to everyone across the political spectrum, to make it to those who’ve long been our supporters, that we’ve got to do it differently, that we can’t do everything and be everything to everybody, and they’ve got to help us really focus this agency. And to those who have been the doubters, we need to convince them that we are in a new era of development as evidenced by this collaboration. So I’m deeply hopeful about the progress that we are making and by the revolutionary solutions in health and development that are waiting for us to capture and apply.
I really believe that we can, in this new era, help more people live up to their own God-given potential starting by helping them survive, saving their lives at birth. We cannot do it without this partnership, and we cannot do it without making the case to our friends on the Hill and the Administration and throughout the country.
The American people are a generous, giving, compassionate people. They believe that our foreign aid budget is about 20 percent of our overall budget and that all we have to do to balance the federal budget is basically eliminate foreign aid. Well, it’s our fault they believe that. That is not the fault of somebody sitting somewhere in our country who thinks that. It is our fault. We have to make the case, and it is a case we can make and convince those who care about what goes on in the rest of the world to also be our partners. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Thank you very much, Madame Chairman, and congratulations on your assuming this post. And I want to thank you publicly for traveling to Haiti with our team on behalf of the efforts that the United States is pursuing there. And I also want to thank the Ranking Member for his leadership and support over these last years.
Late last night, I came back from round-the-clock meetings in Geneva to discuss the unfolding events in Libya. And I’d like to begin by offering a quick update.
We have joined the Libyan people in demanding that Qaddafi must go – now, without further violence or delay – and we are working to translate the world’s outrage into action and results.
Marathon diplomacy at the United Nations and with our allies has yielded quick, aggressive steps to pressure and isolate Libya’s leaders. USAID is focused on Libya’s food and medical supplies and is dispatching two expert humanitarian teams to help those fleeing the violence and who are moving into Tunisia and Egypt, which is posing tremendous burdens on those two countries. Our combatant commands are positioning assets to prepare to support these critical civilian humanitarian missions. And we are taking no options off the table so long as the Libyan Government continues to turn its guns on its own people.
The entire region is changing, and a strong and strategic American response is essential. In the years ahead, Libya could become a peaceful democracy, or it could face protracted civil war, or it could descend into chaos. The stakes are high. And this is an unfolding example of using the combined assets of smart power – diplomacy, development, and defense – to protect American security and interests and advance our values. This integrated approach is not just how we respond to the crisis of the moment. It is the most effective – and most cost-effective – way to sustain and advance our security across the world. And it is only possible with a budget that supports all the tools in our national security arsenal – which is what we are here to discuss.
The American people are justifiably concerned about our national debt. I share that concern. But they also want responsible investments in our future that will make us stronger at home and continuing our leadership abroad. Just two years after President Obama and I first asked you to renew our investment in development and diplomacy, we are already seeing tangible returns for our national security:
In Iraq, almost 100,000 troops have come home, and civilians are poised to keep the peace. In Afghanistan, integrated military and civilian surges have helped set the stage for our diplomatic surge to support Afghan-led reconciliation that can end the conflict and put al-Qaida on the run. We have imposed the toughest ever sanctions to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. We have reengaged as a leader in the Pacific and in our own hemisphere. We have signed trade deals to promote American jobs and nuclear weapons treaties to protect our people. We have worked with Northern and Southern Sudanese to achieve a peaceful referendum and prevent a return to civil war. We are working to open up political systems, economies, and societies at a remarkable moment in the history of the Middle East, and to support peaceful, orderly, irreversible democratic transitions in Egypt and Tunisia.
Our progress is significant, but our work is far from over. These missions are vital to our national security, and I believe with all my heart now would be the wrong time to pull back.
The FY 2012 budget we discuss today will allow us to keep pressing ahead. It is a lean budget for lean times. I did launch the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review to help us maximize the impact of every dollar we spend. We scrubbed this budget and made painful but responsible cuts. We cut economic assistance to Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia by 15 percent. We cut development assistance to over 20 countries by more than half.
And this year, for the first time, our request is divided into two parts. Our core budget request of $47 billion supports programs and partnerships in every country but North Korea. It is essentially flat from 2010 levels. The second part of our request funds the extraordinary, temporary portion of our war effort the same way that the Pentagon’s request is funded: in a separate Overseas Contingency Operations account known as OCO. Instead of covering our war expenses through supplemental appropriations, we are now taking a more transparent approach that reflects our fully integrated civilian-military efforts on the ground. Our share of the President’s $126 billion request for these exceptional wartime costs in the frontline states is 8.7 billion.
Let me walk you through a few of our key investments. First, this budget funds vital civilian missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, al-Qaida is under pressure as never before. Alongside our military offensive, we are engaged in a major civilian effort that is helping to build up the governments, economies, and civil societies of both countries and undercut the insurgency.
Now, these two surges, the military and civilian surge, set the stage for a third: a diplomatic push in support of an Afghan process to split the Taliban from al-Qaida, bring the conflict to an end, and help stabilize the region. Our military commanders are emphatic they cannot succeed without a strong civilian partner. Retreating from our civilian surge in Afghanistan with our troops still in the field would be a grave mistake.
Equally important is our assistance to Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation with strong ties and interests in Afghanistan. We are working to deepen our partnership and keep it focused on addressing Pakistan’s political and economic challenges as well as our shared threats.
And as to Iraq, after so much sacrifice, we do have a chance to help the Iraqi people build a stable, democratic country in the heart of the Middle East. As troops come home, our civilians are taking the lead, helping Iraqis resolve conflicts peacefully and training their police.
Shifting responsibilities from soldiers to civilians actually saves taxpayers a great deal of money. For example, the military’s total OCO request worldwide will drop by $45 billion from 2010 as our troops come home. Our costs, the State Department and USAID, will increase by less than 4 billion. Every business owner I know would gladly invest $4 to save $45.
Second, even as our civilians help bring today’s wars to a close, we are working to prevent tomorrow’s. This budget devotes over $4 billion to sustaining a strong U.S. presence in volatile places where our security and interests are at stake. In Yemen, it provides security, development, and humanitarian assistance to deny al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula a safe haven and to promote the kind of stability that can lead to a better outcome than what might otherwise occur. It focuses on these same goals in Somalia. It helps Northern and Southern Sudan chart a peaceful future. It helps Haiti rebuild. And it proposes a new Global Security Contingency Fund that would pool resources and expertise with the Defense Department to respond quickly as new challenges emerge.
This budget also strengthens our allies and partners. It trains Mexican police to take on violent cartels and secure our southern border. It provides nearly $3.1 billion for Israel and supports Jordan and the Palestinians. It helps Egypt and Tunisia build stable and credible democracy, and it supports security assistance to over 130 nations.
Now, some may say, well, what does this get us in America? Let me give you one example. Over the years, these funds have created valuable ties with foreign militaries and trained, in Egypt, a generation of officers who refused to fire on their own people. And that was not something that happened overnight. It was something that happened because of relationships that had been built over decades. Across the board, we are working to ensure that all who share the benefits of our spending also share the burdens of addressing common challenges.
Third, we are making targeted investments in human security. We have focused on hunger, disease, climate change, and humanitarian emergencies because these challenges not only threaten the security of individuals – they are the seeds of future conflicts. If we want to lighten the burden on future generations, we have to make investments that makes our world more secure for them.
Our largest investment is in global health programs, including those launched by former President George W. Bush. These programs stabilize entire societies that have been and are being devastated by HIV, malaria, and other diseases. They save the lives of mothers and children and halt the spread of deadly diseases.
Global food prices are approaching an all-time high. Three years ago, this led to protests and riots in dozens of countries. Food security is a cornerstone of global stability, and we are helping farmers grow more food, drive economic growth, and turn aid recipients into trading partners.
Climate change threatens food security, human security, and national security. Our budget builds resilience against droughts, floods, and other weather disasters; promotes clean energy and preserves tropical forests. It also gives us leverage to persuade China, India, and other nations to do their essential part in meeting this urgent threat.
Fourth, we are committed to making our foreign policy a force for domestic economic renewal and creating jobs here at home. We are working aggressively to promote sustained economic growth, level the playing fields, and open markets. To give just one example, the eight Open Skies Agreements that we have signed over the last two years will open dozens of new markets to American carriers. The Miami International Airport, Madam Chairman, which supports nearly 300[i] jobs –including many in your district – will see a great deal of new business thanks to agreements with Miami’s top trading partners, Brazil and Colombia.
Fifth and finally, this budget funds the people and the platforms that make possible everything I’ve described. It allows us to sustain diplomatic relations with 190 countries. It funds political officers who are literally, right now, out working to defuse political crises and promote our values; development officers who are spreading opportunity and promoting stability; and economic officers who wake up every day thinking about how to help put Americans back to work.
Several of you have already asked our Department about the safety of your constituents in the Middle East. Well, this budget also helps fund the consular officers who evacuated over 2,600 people thus far from Egypt and Libya – and nearly 17,000 from Haiti. They issued 14 million passports last year and served as our first line of defense against would-be terrorists seeking visas to enter our country.
I’d like to say just a few words about the funding for the rest of 2011. As I told Speaker Boehner, Chairman Rogers, and many others, the 16 percent cut for State and USAID that passed the House last month would be devastating for our national security. It would force us to scale back dramatically on critical missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
And as Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, General Petraeus have all emphasized to the Congress, we need a fully engaged and fully funded national security team, and that includes State and USAID.
Now, there have always been moments of temptation in our country to resist obligations beyond our borders. But each time we have shrunk from global leadership, events have summoned us back, often cruelly, to reality. We saved money in the short term when we walked away from Afghanistan after the Cold War. But those savings came at an unspeakable cost – one we are still paying, ten years later, in money and lives.
Generations of Americans, including my own, have grown up successful and safe because we chose to lead the world in tackling the greatest challenges. We invested the resources to build up democratic allies and vibrant trading partners. And we did not shy away from defending our values, promoting our interests, and seizing the opportunities of each new era.
I have now traveled more than any Secretary of State in the last two years, and I can tell you from firsthand experience the world has never been in greater need of the qualities that distinguish us: our openness and innovation, our determination, our devotion to universal values. Everywhere I travel, I see people looking to us for leadership. Sometimes I see them after they have condemned us publicly on their television channels and then come to us privately and say we can’t do this without America.
This is a source of great strength, a point of pride, and I believe an unbelievable opportunity for the American people. But it is an achievement. It is not a birthright. It requires resolve and it requires resources.
I look forward to working closely together with you to do what is necessary to keep our country safe and maintain American leadership in this fast-changing world. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Ambassador Margaret Scobey: Towards a Culture of Sustainable Communities, Economies and Environment Conference
Good morning, and thank you very much Dr. Nadia Ebeid and Dr. Laila Iskandar, for inviting me to join you this morning with very distinguished Egyptian and international guests.
As a guest myself in Egypt, I can also warmly endorse Dr. Nadia’s invitation and recommendation that while you are visiting Egypt you take advantage of one of the most fascinating set of cultural and historic opportunities that you will ever have. I know many of you come from places also with deep and long of histories, but certainly a visit to the Pyramids or the Egyptian Museum is well worth your time.
It is an honor to be here to participate in this conference. It’s a good chance, obviously, for national and international organizations to share their experiences, identify common needs and approaches, and plan a way forward around the theme of sustainable development.
And I think that, as Dr. Nadia said, sometimes it seems that international cooperation can be improved in this area. And I suspected that is much of what we will focus on today.
Back in January of this year, President Obama used his inaugural speech to make a pledge to people all around the world. He said, “we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.”
Today, we are gathering for the United States side to help turn those words into deeds. Over the next three days, you will discuss and think about broad topics like globalization and its impact on urban and rural development, health, water and sanitation, environmental degradation and conservation, alternative livelihoods systems, economic justice, and civic participation.
I hope that the discussions here will also move us collectively forward to finding common ground as partners and common solutions to challenges that we all face. Secretary Clinton said, our work together reflects a commitment to people “in the rural villages and distant cities where people strive to live, work, learn, raise families, contribute to their communities, and grow old with dignity. These are universal dreams that we seek to make a reality for more of the world’s people.”
- The U.S. government is proud to have worked in partnership with the Egyptian government and local partners for over thirty years to make these lofty words a reality in Egypt. Over the past thirty years, the United States people have contributed $28 billion in economic assistance to Egypt, including $2 billion in the last five years.
- Our collaborative efforts and partnerships have produced tangible results. Now I will just give you a few examples taken from what this partnership has produced in just the past five years:
- We built more than 30 water and wastewater facilities in Fayoum, Beni Suef, and Minia governorates, benefitting more than three million people;
- We have placed 24 million new books in 39,000 Egyptian public school libraries,
- We have helped to increase child immunization rates to 92%,
- We have worked together with local partners to decrease lead pollution levels in Shoubra El Kheima by 75%,
- We have helped again to support the establishment of the Child Protection Committees in all 29 governorates across the country, produced a nationwide human rights education campaign and distributed 180,000 children’s books on human rights,
- And we have contributed to the conservation of major historic sites at Bab Zuweyla in Islamic Cairo.
I could go on, but I just cite these few examples to make a point: our work together advances progress, peace and prosperity. But our work is far from finished. We have much work to do, starting right here at this conference.
This conference is part of the USAID-funded Education for Sustainable Development Project, which has worked across a range of development areas in order to help communities in Egypt sustain their own development in the future.
For the past two years, the project has introduced the concept of Education for Sustainable Development to communities across the country. The project aims to help people develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge necessary to make informed decisions for the benefit of themselves and others. The project’s activities have assisted people to better understand the world in which they live and have empowered them to act for positive economic, environmental and social change.
Becoming better informed about sustainable development begins with an understanding of the global realities we all face, including our interdependence with one another. Connecting those global realities to local circumstances is the key to empowering people to make a difference through their own actions.
This project has brought learners and teachers together to think about and discuss a broad range of topics including health, water and sanitation, environmental degradation, and conservation. It has raised awareness and promoted civic participation and inclusion. The project has also provided NGO’s and schools with the training and tools they need to play a vital role in the transition to sustainability.
Socially responsible, environmentally sensitive, and economically viable communities are crucial as we work towards a sustainable future in the 21st century.
Being here in Egypt, a magnificent country with unprecedented natural resources – the mighty Nile River, the pristine mountains of Sinai, the unspoiled beaches and coral reefs, and the seemingly endless deserts – we are constantly reminded of both the splendor and fragility of the world we all share. The U.S. government is proud to be your partner and to work alongside you to fulfill President Obama’s vision of a future in which farms flourish, clean waters flow; bodies are nourished and every child has the opportunity to learn, thrive and prosper.
Thank you for inviting me to join you here today.
Corruption is a serious hindrance to development, siphoning off resources meant for public services. In the Middle East and North Africa region, the majority of countries are ranked between the 25th and 50th percentile for World Bank’s five dimensions of governance. In collaboration with Transparency International, USAID launched a three-year regional anti-corruption program in 2007 that focuses on civil society networks and analysis to advocate for more transparent policies and systems.
The program includes the development of a National Integrity Study, which uses in-depth research and stakeholder interviews, among other tools, to understand a nation’s integrity and control system. In addition, participants will conduct gap analysis to identify necessary legal reforms to counter corruption. These tools and the training to use them will help empower civil society in advocating for needed reforms.
This program forms a regional effort between Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the West Bank and Gaza to build an advocacy campaign to use the research for policy change on this governance issue.
This program has four main objectives:
Conduct a National Integrity Study within the four participating countries and provide training in the study methodology;
Establish civil society networks to combat corruption on a regional level;
Use a gap analysis to identify the necessary legal reforms for the proper implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption; and
Empower regional civil societies to promote legal frameworks for effective anti-corruption policy change.