Development and Poverty Reduction: a Multilateral Approach -- Address by Michel Camdessus

February 13, 2000

00/05 Address by Michel Camdessus
Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
at the Tenth United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Bangkok, Thailand, February 13, 2000

Mr. Chairman,
Secretary-General Ricupero,

I value immensely the unprecedented initiative of Secretary-General Ricupero to give to his closest colleagues in the family of the UN, an opportunity simply to speak their minds, to bring to this first forum of the world economy at the beginning of the new millennium the wealth of the experience of their institutions, the lessons they drew from the crises of the end of the 1990s, and their hopes as heads of institutions, and, why not, as human beings. This is a typical initiative of a man, who has, in an extraordinary way, restored this institution and made it an important instrument to conceive the strategies the world needs, and who is also a unique source of inspiration for many of us. As for myself, this being my last address to a UN forum, as tomorrow will be my last day in office, you can imagine my emotion in taking the floor, and you can anticipate the sincerity of my words.

Let me then, reflect with you on the paradox of the present situation: promise-unprecedented prospects in certain fields—but financial instability and "exclusion," the so cruel situation of the poorest and the anxieties of so many in the world. One must recognize that there are serious reasons for this anxiety, even if the world has recently overcome with unprecedented speed the most severe crisis of the last fifty years, and even if the world today enjoys better prospects for sustainable growth, with global output slightly over 3 percent for advanced countries and about 5 percent for developing countries facing all these contrasts.

This then is a unique opportunity to:

1. try to identify the dynamics present in recent history offering us a new chance to improve the well-being of mankind, but also,

2. recognize that poverty is the "ultimate threat" to stability in a globalizing world, and

3. conclude that the all-out effort needed to overcome world poverty requires a reinvigorated multilateralism.

* * * * *

I. Positive Dynamics in Recent History

Let me mention just three positive dynamics from among many others:

    · A major economic crisis is being overcome and we can build a more stable world on its lessons;
    · A new paradigm of development is emerging;
    · We recognize better now that globalization, if properly handled, can become a major opportunity for the progress of the world.

Let me elaborate.

First, meeting here in Asia, we can only note the resilience demonstrated by Asian economies to this most severe crisis, the courage demonstrated by the authorities in facing adversity, and the capacity of the international community to respond promptly to such a shock with the technical and financial assistance needed. Today, while we still deplore all the human costs of the crisis, we can observe that by 1999 all the crisis economies were recovering, and GDP in Korea and the Philippines already exceeded pre-crisis levels.

Thailand, the gracious host of this gathering, is another example. The courageous actions taken by the Thai government, with the support and understanding of the people of this nation of such great traditions and potential, have set the economy on the path to recovery, and already its industrial output has recovered to the pre-crisis level.

Today, let us salute the nations throughout Asia, and indeed in emerging market economies in other regions, which have confronted crisis with such fortitude. This tribute is due not only to governments and institutions, but especially to the people of the countries affected, who have shown such determination to overcome adversity, a sense of community, and a readiness for renewal. We should not pretend that the reform process is over, but what is important is that economies have been stabilized, that fundamental changes in the financial and corporate sectors have been initiated, and old styles of governance are being overhauled or abandoned. More importantly, they have gained a better chance now to achieve higher quality growth.

Beyond the recovery of these countries, the world now has a golden opportunity—an opportunity, as UNCTAD's new President says, too good to be missed—to press forward with making itself less vulnerable to the kind of upheaval that we saw at the end of the 1990s. Let it suffice it to draw three basic lessons from these crises:

    · the essential importance of strengthening all available means of prevention;
    · the decisive importance of the strength and determination of the reaction of governments;
    · the ability demonstrated by the international community to respond with powerful and speedy interventions, so reducing significantly the length of the crisis compared with earlier episodes.

If well recognized, these lessons can be an important avenue for stability in the future, and already they underline the extensive agenda of reform for the international monetary and financial system which is being implemented. If the task is pursued with utmost determination, good prospects for a more stable financial world could emerge.

These recoveries are outstanding experiences on which to build, but it is remarkable to observe also that they rest on, or have developed in parallel with, positive developments in the way the international community approaches its economic challenges. A new paradigm of development is progressively emerging here. Let me emphasize two of its key features.

First, a progressive humanization of basic economic concepts. It is recognized that the market can have major failures, that growth alone is not enough, or can even be destructive of the natural environment or precious social goods and cultural values. Only the pursuit of high-quality growth is worth the effort. What is such growth? It is:

    · growth that can be sustained over time without causing domestic and external financial imbalance;
    · growth that has the human person at its center, that is accompanied by adequate investment, particularly in education and health, to take full advantage of the tremendous leverage of human capital for future growth;
    · growth that, to be sustainable, is based on a continuous effort for more equity, poverty alleviation, and empowerment of poor people; and
    · growth that promotes protection of the environment, and respect for national cultural values.

This is what our programs are, more and more, and must aim for.

Second, at a deeper level, we observe also in recent approaches a striking and promising recognition of the convergence between a respect for fundamental ethical values and the search for efficiency required by market competition. This augurs well for attaining the highest quality growth we now seek. Yes, we are seeing a far wider recognition:

    · that participatory democracy—that major conquest of the 20th century over colonialism, totalitarianism, and cronyism—can maximize the effectiveness of sound economics;
    · that transparency, openness, and accountability are basic requirements for economic success;
    · that combating collusion, corruption, and nepotism is also a legitimate concern for the international financial institutions;
    · that systematically dismantling the state is not the way to respond to the problems of modern economies; rather, we must aim for a slimmer yet more effective state, able to provide the private sector with a solid framework in which the rule of law could prevail on a level playing field; and
    · that there is a mutually reinforcing relationship between macroeconomic stability and structural reform on one hand, and growth and the reduction of poverty and inequality on the other.

Stability and strong institutions are clearly essential for growth, and hence for poverty alleviation. But the converse is also true: popular support for stabilization and reform cannot be counted upon, unless the whole population, including the poorest—and by the poorest I mean those that not only are out of the loop, but even more are unable to contribute their experience 1—is able to participate in the formulation of the policies and, of course, in the benefits from those policies.

In short, a new economic paradigm is emerging. The new opportunities for growth created by the revolution in information technology, combined with more resolute efforts to promote opportunities for all to share in the benefits of growth, will amplify the positive effects of macroeconomic and monetary stability. The emerging new paradigm, rooted in fundamental human values, taken together with a better ability to prevent and manage crises, is a distinct and positive feature of our times.

At the same time, a new perception of globalization is emerging, one that is well reflected in the preparatory work for this Conference. I detect a vigorous call for common action to transform globalization into an effective instrument for development. Globalization can now be seen in a positive light, not what some have portrayed it to be, a blind, potentially malevolent force that needs to be tamed. It should be seen for what it is, a logical extension of the same basic principles of economic and human relations that have already brought prosperity to many countries, and the best means of improving the human condition throughout the world. But—and here comes my central question—if such powerful dynamics for a better world are at play, why such anxiety, why such a rejection in many circles of globalization as a symbol of the new economic trends? Why such rejection? Because, it has not yet demonstrated that it is concerned enough, or capable of overcoming the greatest concern of our times.

II. Poverty

Mr. Chairman, the greatest concern of our time is poverty; to use the words of Mr. Gurria, Finance Minister of Mexico, it is the ultimate systemic threat facing humanity. When considering the positive dynamics at work in our world, the slowness of progress in reducing poverty appears all the more unacceptable. I need not describe in graphic terms the extent of present human deprivation—you know them at least as well as I.

The widening gaps between rich and poor within nations, and the gulf between the most affluent and most impoverished nations, are morally outrageous, economically wasteful, and potentially socially explosive. Now we know that it is not enough to increase the size of the cake; the way it is shared is deeply relevant to the dynamism of development. If the poor are left hopeless, poverty will undermine the fabric of our societies through confrontation, violence, and civil disorder. We cannot afford to ignore poverty, wherever it exists, whether in the advanced countries, emerging economies, or the least developed nations. But it is in the poorest countries that extreme poverty can no longer be tolerated; it is our duty to work together to relieve suffering.

The means are there:

    · the revolution in information technology reveals daily its extraordinary potential for human education, culture, and development, opening the possibility, as Jim Wolfensohn observed recently, "to eliminate forever the knowledge gap between rich and poor countries;"
    · globalized markets offer the capacity to mobilize and allocate resources rationally to poorer countries, provided a conducive environment is created there; and
    · in this context, the poorest countries themselves are more determined than ever to "own" their policies and to center those policies on human development; this has been demonstrated in many occasions, most recently at the conferences of Libreville and Cancun.

Mr. Chairman, poverty is no longer inevitable, if it has ever been, provided we are able to mobilize these new opportunities for the poorest through the new economic paradigm I have mentioned. How will we do this?

At the very outset, by being respectful of the priorities the countries themselves will define for their people. Which priorities? Once again, in an address on the very first day of the millennium, President Mandela found the right words to state these priorities as "the simple opportunity to live a decent life, to have a proper shelter and food to eat, to be able to care for their children and to live with dignity, to have good education for their charges, their health needs cared for, and to have access to paid employment." The best way to respond now, together, North and South, is to mobilize all our resources, at least to implement the not-overly-ambitious pledges we have adopted on the occasion of the UN conferences of the 1990s. Listen to them: reducing by half by the year 2015 the number of people in absolute poverty, universal primary education, the fight against hunger, gender equality, child mortality, reproductive health, maternal mortality, and the environment.2 By taking immediately the necessary steps to this effect—and tomorrow it will be too late!—we will significantly increase the chances of creating diverse synergies such as between social spending and growth, education and participatory democracy, education of girls and better birth control; and thereby the chances of reaching the higher level of national growth which will be needed to reduce poverty in the pledged proportion, and, in so doing, to generate a world-wide synergy as, acceleration of growth of the developing countries can be a powerful contribution to the prosperity of the whole world community.

But it is simply not enough to keep these issues in the domain of international conferences. We must make sure in our work with individual countries and people that these principles become operational. The challenge is to work together to build up the capacity of developing countries to fight against poverty and to mobilize the necessary resources to support their efforts. Of course we know we need look no further than the declaration by African heads of state and government in Libreville last month, which recognizes clearly that poverty reduction is a challenge poor countries themselves must confront head-on with the support of their development partners. We hear the same theme in the resolutions of the recent UN General Assembly.

Even with enhanced support from abroad, it is the poor countries themselves that are on the front line. Already many of them have been showing what can be done when the ultimate objective is human development including the alleviation of poverty. Their experience suggests an approach for each country with five components:

First, country-driven strategies that make poverty alleviation the centerpiece of economic policy, together with a renewed emphasis on rapid private sector-led growth.

Second, the virtues of sound macroeconomic policies are fundamental. So too are high rates of saving and efficient investment in both physical and human capital.

Third, the promotion of the free market and an outward orientation of economic policies—which are sometimes called the first generation of reforms: trade and exchange liberalization; improving incentives by rolling back price controls and subsidies; reforming public enterprises; and strengthening financial systems are all elements.

Fourth, efficient markets and sound financial systems require strong economic, social, and political institutions. I refer to the web of laws, regulations, standards, and codes that support the functioning of markets. It is all summed up in two key concepts—transparency and good governance. These "second generation reforms" are not abstract concepts that can await more auspicious times; they are essential building blocks of a successful market economy. The more they overlap with the first generation of reforms, the better.

Fifth, a strong social component is indispensable—well-targeted and cost-effective social safety nets, a shift in public spending toward basic social services in education and health care, and efforts to provide income-earning opportunities for the poor.

But if the content of a program is important, the degree of national support for it matters equally. It need hardly be said that a program will work only if the country wants it to work; not just the Government, but the people and organizations within the society. In short, success lies in national "ownership" of the policies, through a participatory approach that engages civil society in a constructive dialogue.

Absolutely central to the spirit of what we are trying to do is to make sure that the country should be in the driver's seat of the process. And the rest of the world should be ready when these countries indicate that they need support. The African heads of state, at their meeting in Libreville, and indeed all the poorest countries through their representatives in the Boards of the World Bank and the IMF, have indicated that they are ready to start—some have already done so. The rest of the world must not let them down.

How then can development partners support the efforts of the poorest countries? Let me point to three areas.

First, on the trade front, by assigning the highest priority to providing unrestricted market access for all exports from the poorest countries, including the HIPCs, so that these countries can begin to benefit more deeply from integration into the global trading system.

Second, by working strenuously to encourage flows of private capital to the lower-income developing countries, especially foreign direct investment with its twin benefits of new finance and technology transfers, a matter to which UNCTAD is providing an outstanding contribution. Of course, first and foremost, this entails a commitment on the part of the countries to create conducive conditions. But it also requires that investors energetically do what they do best, seek out the new opportunities that are opening up as countries become more assertive in making their policies more attractive to the private sector.

Third, by backing up all the pledges to reduce poverty with financial support.

    · Official bilateral creditors and donors should be ready to step up the level of technical and financial assistance. The excuse of "aid fatigue" is not credible—indeed it approaches the level of downright cynicism—at a time when, for the last decade, the advanced countries have had the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the "peace dividend." And let us not forget the pledge to devote 0.7 percent of GNP to ODA. Even if the year 2000 was badly missed, the objective retains its relevance for the future.
    · Debt relief, is of course a most welcome contribution, and all potentially eligible countries should be encouraged to avail themselves of the large-scale debt relief that is now available under the enhanced HIPC Initiative. But this must not be seen as a substitute for new financial flows.
    · Lastly, the multilateral organizations can be counted upon to do their part. The IMF has replaced its concessional facility, the ESAF, with the better-focussed Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), focussing on poverty reduction as an explicit objective of our programs. This will be our central instrument for assisting the low-income countries, including of course those seeking assistance under the HIPC Initiative. Of course, we will rely on our partners in the World Bank and the regional development banks to undertake the lending operations that will finance the direct anti-poverty policies included in the economic programs we support. Indeed, this approach also makes imperative a new, higher level of cooperation among all UN and Bretton Woods agencies—and other development partners—as, together, we try to support the work of these countries in poverty alleviation. For the Fund, it is essential to ensure that poverty reduction is an integral and explicit objective when designing policies, and to verify that the machinery and support are available to pursue these policies.

Mr. Chairman, the task I have just outlined is monumental. All-out effort is needed to overcome this ultimate threat of poverty. I do not see how we can achieve it without a reinvigorated multilateralism.

* * * * *

III. A Reinvigorated Multilateralism

Everything I have said today calls for us to move to a higher level of international cooperation. And yet incoherence in our efforts threatens us permanently; we risk stumbling at the first hurdle. To avoid it we need to ensure greater coherence in international policy making. For that a reinvigorated multilateralism must be the response. In Marrakesh, the international community has called upon the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO to seek more coherence in their policy advice.3 And we have responded. You have only to consider the joint statement issued by the heads of the IMF, World Bank, and the WTO ahead of the conference in Seattle to recognize that. But the fact is that the international community is giving with one hand, but is taking away with the other. Governments have made the far-reaching decision—in the framework of the Bretton Woods institutions—to reduce by about one-half the debt of 35 or 40 heavily indebted poor countries through our HIPC Initiative. But those same governments have failed—in the framework of WTO—to launch a trade round, or even to take the very modest step of eliminating trade barriers to the exports of the poorest countries, especially HIPCs. And it is the latter measure that has the greater long-term potential, through its effects on export-led growth and income generation, for lifting the poor out of poverty. This failure, unless quickly reversed, would make a mockery of a decision on debt that is, otherwise, of historic dimensions.

I find similar incoherence in our insufficient progress in advancing in parallel toward peace and development, particularly in Africa. We have heard that development is the other name of peace. Why do we forget the converse: that peace is the other name of development?

So I have no hesitation in reiterating several suggestions that have been made to contain the arms trade and military expenditures:

    ·restraining the sales of military equipment to sensitive regions;
    · abolishing the provision of export credit for military purposes;
    · following the recommendation of Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to adopt national maximum levels for military expenditure that should not exceed 1.5 percent of GDP in Africa, and might often be lower;
    · cooperating in the interdiction of the smuggling of raw materials and natural resources to finance armed conflict; and
    · broadening the UN register to involve many more countries and to cover small arms and ammunition.

We must endorse them. Just think how many ploughshares could be forged with such an oversupply of swords! For that purpose—and, of course, all the more in the domain of peace—the multilateral framework of the UN is of the essence.

Mr. Chairman, we cannot allow these incoherences—of which I have just given you a few examples—together with all the regressive forces in the world, to frustrate the hopes fostered by the new dynamics operating in our world. What then should we do? The response is straightforward; we must embrace a renewed commitment to the principles of multilateralism. This is the really effective way to tap the benefits of globalization for all people in all countries and to transform hope and generous intention into reality.

This implies extending our vision for the world's economic and financial system to cover not only trade and payments, but the whole gamut of international transactions, to create an open, competitive, and stable international environment, where, not only capital, but also investment and people, could move more freely and could contribute better to universal progress. For half-a-century, much of the world has seen extraordinary gains in economic activity, promoted by a multilateral trading system that has grown progressively more liberal. These are gains that can, and should be, extended by a further round of trade liberalization. But the recent events at the WTO conference in Seattle—both in the conference halls and on the streets-show that there are still vested interests to confront and people to convince of the merits of a multilateral trading system. Clearly, the trade talks need to be put back on the rails, and in doing so we need to convince the public and political leadership—in developing and developed countries alike—that only multilateralism can succeed in humanizing globalization. I shall mention four broad areas in which multilateralism should be enhanced: trade, current payments, capital movements, and the strengthening of the international financial architecture.

First, liberalization of trade. Why do we need a new trade round? For at least three reasons:

    · Because renewed growth in world trade is essential to stimulate and sustain the global recovery that is underway.
    · Because, without more liberal trade and the liberalization of financial services, reform of the financial architecture reform will be less effective.
    · Also because—and this is the most urgent—trade, through its contribution to sustained high-quality growth, is vital for the lasting reduction of poverty and for the promotion of true development.

Second, the liberalization of payments, comes to an issue at the core of the IMF's mandate, which is to help eliminate "foreign restrictions that hamper the growth of world trade." This process has been underway for more than 50 years. It accelerated during the past decade, and we are well on the way to completing the job. After Brazil's recent decision to adopt the obligations of Article VIII, there are now just 34 of our 182 members who still have to take this step. We can justly claim that we are close to creating an international payments system that is free of restrictions on payments for trade and services.

Which brings us to the third area: liberalization of capital movements. I do not need to remind you of the extraordinary growth of international capital flows in recent years, and of the increasing freedom and integration in capital markets. Still, I have no hesitation in asserting the benefits of the further orderly liberalization of international capital movements. Just think how amply the world has been rewarded by the foresight of the founders of the Bretton Woods organizations and the WTO, who saw the enormous potential of open trade. The analogous step today is the liberalization of capital movements. We have the technology and the instruments for transferring savings from surplus countries to where the resources will be used most efficiently. It is happening. We should not try to turn back the clock. Instead we need to establish the framework and safeguards to protect the international financial system. And we need to help countries undertake an orderly approach to liberalization, that will help avoid the extreme volatility that hit Asia so severely.

Rhetoric should not be allowed to prevail over the facts. Exchange controls do not work better than orderly liberalization. Controls are not precluded by the IMF, but should be used only on a temporary basis, and preferably accompanied by other more basic structural reforms. Experience tells us that countries may even grow with capital controls in place, but they grow despite them, rather than because of them. Finally, experience tells us also that it is better to do without such controls, but when they are dismantled, it should be done with care.

Just as the WTO—and the GATT—have provided a framework and guidelines for the liberalization of trade, and just as the IMF's core mandate has included liberalization of payments for current transactions, the process of liberalizing capital movements also needs a framework and guidelines. Now it is time to move forward so that the risk of future crises can be diminished and the renewal of capital flows be encouraged. Work is underway in the Fund on proposals that would allow each country to identify the steps that individually it needs to take to liberalize its capital account and to define its own timetable.

The liberalization of trade, payments, capital movements—all consist of removing barriers to activity. These are market-enhancing measures aimed at creating conditions that are conducive to the participation of the private sector (domestic and foreign) in an ever-growing number of countries. These measures must be supplemented by work to make sure that markets—both national and international—are efficient, stable, and transparent...serving, not jeopardizing, human development. This brings us to the work in progress on the architecture of the international financial system. All countries have a role to play in making their economies more sound and international markets more secure:

    · By promoting transparency in public policymaking and private sector activity and disclosure;
    · By adopting, implementing and monitoring the new and revised systems of internationally recognized standards and codes of good practice.
    · By promoting good governance through irreproachable arm's-length relationships among governments, private corporations, and financial institutions;
    · By working tirelessly to make sure that financial systems are strong, well-managed and efficient, but also well regulated and well supervised.

A great deal has been achieved in the past two years in identifying the new architecture needed, and a strong start has been made on implementation in a number of areas. But a vast amount of low profile, behind-the-scenes work of implementation remains to be done, and will have to be accomplished over the next few years. All countries have a responsibility to make sure that they are doing everything possible to make their economies and institutions measure up, and so to contribute their fair share to—this multilateral effort toward—global high-quality growth.

The international community has invited the Fund to include, experimentally, in its policy dialogue with all member countries, the monitoring and dissemination of some of these standards. We shall be working closely with many other agencies in this challenging new area. But again I return to the imperative of coherence. Many developing countries will need a great deal of technical assistance to build up their institutions. The advanced countries must recognize the coherence between advocating standards and offering the means to implement them.

But, there is another domain where I would suggest more coherence in the attitude of governments; it is in their political support to multilateral institutions. Some governments from time to time find it convenient not to express their public support for actions they support wholeheartedly in our Executive Bodies. This applies to the IMF, but frequently also to other multilateral institutions. In a world where we are blessed with vibrant public opinions, where demagogic campaigns can develop in a flash, we will all be unable to discharge our ever-growing responsibilities if we are not perceived for what we are, the faithful instruments of the community of nations. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the IMF and other multilateral institutions are seen, far more visibly, to have the legitimate political support of their shareholders. One reform that I have recently proposed—the introduction of a supreme decision-making body in the IMF—would respond to this problem. Far from leading to an undue politicization of the IMF, this would simply, in the eyes of the public, place responsibility squarely where it already rests. But governments remain to be convinced.

Multilateralism, as I have so far mentioned, is the best way of enhancing the coherence of actions and initiatives across the family of institutions. But it is more. It is also the only avenue to address properly the broader issue of world economic governance, not with the illusion of promoting some utopian world government, but with the more limited, but necessary, ambition of finding a global response to inescapable global problems.

While globalization has until now operated at the whim of more or less autonomous financial and technological forces, it is high time that we take on these responsibilities and take the initiative, so that progress toward world unity can be made in the service of humankind. All this requires institutions that can facilitate joint reflection, at the highest levels, whenever needed, and that are capable of ensuring that globalized strategies are adopted and followed when it appears that problems can be dealt with effectively only at the global level. This is, in some way, what we are trying to do here. But, clearly, we need to be imaginative enough to conceive the institutions that would best serve this purpose or, at least, to make the necessary changes in the institutions created in San Francisco and Bretton Woods.

The task is certainly monumental. We are the first generation in history to be called upon to organize and manage the world, not from a position of power such as Alexander's or Caesar's or the Allies' at the end of World War II, but through a recognition of the universal responsibilities of all peoples, of the equal right to sustainable development, and of a universal duty of solidarity.

A suggestion which goes in that direction, and which is especially motivated by the pursuit of coherence, would consist of replacing the G7-G8 Summit every two years by a meeting of the heads of state and government of the countries—approximately 30 at any one time—who have Executive Directors on the Boards of either the IMF or the World Bank. Provided such meetings were prepared with the active participation of all the countries of the respective constituencies, this would be thoroughly representative of the entire membership of 182 countries. As it would be attended by the Secretary General of the United Nations and by the heads of the relevant multilateral organizations, it would offer a way of establishing a clear and stronger link between the multinational institutions and a representative grouping of world leaders with unquestionable legitimacy. This could be a useful topic for discussion in the forthcoming G-7/G-8 summits.

This suggestion is modest. No doubt we will have to be more imaginative if we want humanity to become better aware of, and to assume responsibility for, the global aspect of its destiny. We must provide the world with institutions adapted to these challenges. This will be necessary also if we are sensitive to the so-frequently-expressed fear that the treasures of local cultures and traditions are at risk of being overwhelmed by the strongest. One of the most pressing responsibilities of the international community will be to make sure that just the opposite occurs, and that local cultures are given a new stronger chance to contribute their uniqueness to a unifying world.

* * * * *

Mr. Chairman, let me sum up.

Strong dynamics are at play in our history, bearing the promise of greater financial stability, of a new paradigm of development, and of a better chance to humanize globalization.

These dynamics can make it possible to fulfil our universal pledges to reduce poverty and, through a reinvigorated multilateralism, to better address our problems in their global dimension. We cannot delude ourselves about the enormity of the challenges, but I like it that the UNCTAD has chosen for the logo of this conference a joyful bell. Certainly it does not ring the passing away of the twentieth century, but rather reminds me of the bells in the villages of my country, France, calling the people

to wake up, and to remind them that an angel had visited this earth, and that, provided humanity cooperates, the world will be saved. This is a good symbol for all the peoples of the world whatever their creed. Positive dynamics for high-quality and equitable development are given to the world today; may it suffice that we cooperate in a full spirit of responsibility and solidarity as good citizens of one village. Thank you very much.


Key International Pledges for Sustainable Development

Reducing extreme poverty
The proportion of people living in extreme poverty in developing countries should be reduced by at least one half by 2015. (Copenhagen)

Universal primary education
There should be universal primary education in all countries by 2015.
(Jomtien, Beijing, Copenhagen)

Gender equality
Progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of women should be demonstrated by eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005.
(Cairo, Beijing, Copenhagen)

Infant and child mortality
The death rates for infants and children under the age of five years should be reduced in each developing country by two-thirds the 1990 level by 2015. (Cairo)

Maternal mortality
The rate of maternal mortality should be reduced by three-fourths between 1990 and 2015.
(Cairo, Beijing)

Fight against hunger
Reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015.

Reproductive health
Access should be available through the primary health-care system to reproductive health services for all individuals of appropriate ages, no later than 2015. (Cairo)

There should be a current national strategy for sustainable development, in the process of implementation, in every country by 2005, so as to ensure that curent trends in the loss of environmental resources are effectively reversed at both global and national levels by 2015.

1 See Bruno Tardien, Fourth World Movement, "Reaching the poorest, how can institutions do it?" Seminar, World Bank, January 27, 2000.

2 Pledges on key development goals made at several international conferences (see Attachment).

3 Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, Marrakesh, April 15, 1994.


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