1 March 2006

Political Courage Needed in Financing for Development, Secretary-General Tells Paris Ministerial Conference

NEW YORK, 28 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today, at the Ministerial Conference on Innovative Sources of Financing for Development in Paris:

C'est un grand plaisir pour moi de participer à cette Conférence, et je remercie le Président Chirac, ainsi que ses collègues, de l'avoir organisée.

Le Président Chirac fait preuve de beaucoup de dynamisme et de couragedans la recherche de sources novatrices de financement du développement susceptibles de faciliter la réalisation des objectifs du millenaire. Après la Conférence de Monterrey il y a quatre ans, c'est sous sa houlette qu'un groupe d'experts a réalisé, pour compléter les recherches de l'Université des Nations Unies, une étude technique qui a eu beaucoup de retentissement. Et il y a deux ans, il a contribué à créer une groupe politique soutenue en lançant avec le Président brésilien, M. Lula, et le Président chilien, M. Lagos, ainsi que d'autres dirigeants, une initiative connue sous le nom d'Action contre la faim et la pauvreté.

Jusqu'il y a peu, les débats sur les moyens novateurs de financer le développement étaient pour l'essentiel exploratoires. Ici, à Paris, nous passons au stade suivant : nous sommes réunis pour parler de la mise en œuvre de propositions concrètes.

Let us be clear:  it would be too optimistic to think that innovative sources of financing alone will generate enough funding to reach the Millennium Development Goals.  And even if we reach the goals, there would still be a vast backlog of human deprivation, and we would need a longer-term strategy for financing the complete eradication of poverty.  That is why it remains essential for all developed countries to meet the long-established target of devoting 0.7 percent of gross national product to official development assistance, and for all countries to continue striving to build a more open, balanced, fair and transparent global economy and trading system.

Innovative sources of financing should not be seen as a replacement for traditional forms of aid.  Rather, they are meant to generate even more money for development, and to channel resources more effectively.  And there are some very promising possibilities on the table.

I am very encouraged, for example, by the announcement by Chile and France of a pilot project to generate resources through a modest surcharge on the cost of airline tickets.  The United Kingdom also plans to dedicate the receipts from an existing airline surcharge to development.  Such initiatives have many virtues:  they are practical; they are targeted at those who can afford it; they can be implemented rapidly; and they are flexible so that, over time, more countries can join.

Brazil, France and others are already discussing the use of new resources to establish an International Drug Purchase Facility, which could increase the production and availability of anti-retrovirals for people living with HIV or AIDS.  This facility could also help provide certainty about demand, supply and long-term pricing of AIDS drugs as countries scale up national treatment services to achieve universal access.  Six-and-a-half million people need anti-retrovirals immediately, yet only 1 million people have access to them.  Among those most desperately in need of treatment, my heart goes out to children.  United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is working with the World Health Organization, UNAIDS and other partners to develop a pediatric drugs and diagnostic procurement mechanism, which could be an important complement to the International Drug Purchase Facility.

So I urge other countries to join the Facility.  I also hope its modalities can be finalized as soon as possible, preferably by the end of May, when the United Nations General Assembly will hold its next High-level Meeting on HIV-AIDS.  In doing so, we should take care to ensure that efforts to raise funds for action on AIDS complement each other, and do not duplicate existing mechanisms that are working well and which are being implemented by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, World Health Organization (WHO) or the World Bank.

I also urge full support for the International Finance Facility proposed by the United Kingdom.  The IFF rightly seeks to front-load aid, in order to provide the jump-start needed to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  That is why I strongly support the pilot project for immunization launched last September.  I warmly congratulate all the countries involved for their vision and commitment, and urge them to do their utmost now to follow through, and ensure that these far-sighted efforts truly succeed.

President Chirac has also proposed the establishment of a Leading Group on Development Solidarity, which would work to expand international support for surcharges on airline tickets.  I thank the French Government for agreeing to host its permanent secretariat, and encourage all of you to keep working in close cooperation with interested international and non-governmental organizations, including of course the United Nations, through the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and its Financing for Development Office.

Financing for Development is a realm that cries out for creativity.

We need to figure out how to strengthen the development impact of the remittances that workers send home to developing countries.

We need to better combat tax evasion, which robs national authorities of precious revenues.

And it seems a matter of common sense that, if possible, "global bads" such as overfishing should also, somehow, be made to generate resources for "global public goods".  Such as possibly the auctioning of fishing rights and use those resources to support the poor.

Financing for development is also an area where political courage is needed.  We must not rule out ideas solely for fear of controversy.  Human need should be our overriding consideration.  But let us also be clear about our ambitions:  no one is contemplating global initiatives that would give the United Nations authority over domestic resources or put the Organization in charge of administering vast new sums of money.  What we want is to mobilize individual nations, on their own or working together, acting on their own power and initiative, to significantly increase development assistance to the world's poor. 

For my part, I continue to push for reforms that will make the United Nations a truly effective and accountable actor for development and peace.  Two days from now, I will introduce another set of proposals for management reform with this goal at their core.

The ideas being discussed and unveiled today have great potential.  Thank you again for your commitment to the United Nations and to building a prosperous, hunger-free, more equitable world.

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