Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia

Indonesia—Working Together to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals

September 13, 2005 02:45 PM


by Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Jeffrey Sachs: Mr. President, thank you very much for a very clear and
powerful message. The points that I would underscore and echo and hope that
you share with your colleagues of world leaders in the coming days are first, the
crucial fact of the need for collaboration and partnership and mutual responsibility
if we're going to achieve these goals. Second, the fact that poverty does breed
violence and economic development is a road to peace and this is clear from
your own country's example. Third, what's critical is dialogue and reconciliation
of warring parties and including interfaith dialogue, another lesson that you are
embarking on and is very important. Fourth, and I think notable for all of us, is
the crucial fact of the need for local ownership and accountability, something that
you are championing in the rebuilding of Aceh after the tsunami.

And fifth, and very much dear to our hearts, is the focus on rural infrastructure
because so many of the poor live in rural areas. They sometimes are invisible to
those in urban areas and yet that's where so much of the poverty alleviation can
take place. Our countries share a lot. We admire so much what you're doing.
We share democracy and a commitment to global stability and recently we have
shared the tragedy of natural disasters. When the tsunami hit I want you to
know, Mr. President, that there was an incredible outpouring at this university
and students picked up and went to Indonesia. Our medical doctors, our
specialists in climate and in emergency response, and they were always greeted
with a great warmth and affection by the Indonesian people. But the deep link
and commitment here is very strong.

And now that we have been shocked on our own side we are looking also to the
lessons from your leadership. It's ironic that President Clinton, who was helping
with the rebuilding of Aceh, was asked to help the rebuilding of New Orleans in
the last few days. This is how the world turns and it shows there is no place on
the planet that is outside of these vulnerabilities and outside of the web of
connection. Who would have thought that the United States would be a recipient
of emergency U.N. aid two weeks ago, but that's where we find ourselves today.
And we know that we can count on the world and we want the world to be able to
know that it can count on the United States. President Yudhoyono has a long
engagement including the interfaith dialogue which he mentioned. So he and his
colleagues will depart. At this point we'll let them take their leave after thanking

For those who would like to stay you are stuck with me, definitely the second act
on this bill, the lesser one. But I'll say a few more words afterwards about the
state of U.N. negotiations and what is possible in the coming days at the world
summit. So let's take the opportunity to thank President Yudhoyono and his
colleagues for honoring us with their presence today. Let me give a little bit of
background for those who would like of why we have a world summit right now,
what's been happening in the negotiations, what the prospects are and what the
outstanding issues are. This summit, which will be. as I said, the largest
gathering of world leaders in history, follows the previous largest gathering of
world leaders in history, the Millennium Summit in September 2000.

At that time, 147 world leaders came to the United Nations to usher in the new
millennium. And Secretary General Kofi Annan had put before them a document
called, "We the Peoples," which was a remarkable statement of the potential for
addressing fundamental issues of security, environment and poverty in the new
millennium. And it was a call to action. From that document came a specific
declaration of the Millennium Assembly called the Millennium Declaration. And
from the Millennium Declaration came the eight Millennium Development Goals.
Those are excerpted phrases, commitments, from the Millennium Declaration
itself. The Millennium Declaration dealt with the issues of security, environment,
international governance and poverty reduction.

And the Millennium Development Goals are the excerpts of specific goals with
respect to poverty reduction. There are, as most of you probably know, eight
goals and eighteen targets dispersed among those goals, and they are by and
large time-bound, quantitative targets for reducing income poverty, generally
defined as a $1 a day or less; hunger, which has a variety of measurements;
disease, mainly malaria, AIDS, TB; for improving access to essential medicines;
cutting child mortality and maternal mortality; stopping the expansion of the
number of people living in slums, which also has a technical definition; and
actually reversing the numbers in absolute value rather than the projected 1
billion increase that is expected to the year 2020; and ensuring access to safe
drinking water.

And after the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 also
adding in access to sanitation. In addition were the goals of global partnership,
which got put under a general rubric of Millennium Development Goal Eight. And
there are six targets under Millennium Development Goal Eight which relate to
various aspects of global commitment, including responsibilities of rich countries.
These are in general not quantified but they say that there should be greater
progress towards debt relief. There should be greater official development
assistance. There should be more availability from the pharmaceutical industry
for essential medicines and a number of other specific targets that are part of the
global partnership commitment.

At the time that the Millennium Declaration was adopted one of the clauses in the
Millennium Declaration was that the leaders looked forward to a specific meeting
which was supposed to take place in 2001 and ended up taking place in March
2002, in Monterey, Mexico, called the International Conference on Financing for
Development. And that conference already in the Millennium Declaration was
envisaged to be the conference where numbers would be put on the financing
commitments from the rich countries so that the poor countries would have the
wherewithal to make the investments in rural infrastructure, for example, needed
to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. And President Bush and other
world leaders went to Monterey, Mexico in March 2002, and of course that was in
the wake of September 11.

There were negotiations about financing and the Monterey Consensus emerged
from that meeting and that became more or less the official framework for the
financial arrangements between the rich and the poor countries. It's quite a good
document actually, and I don't say that about all international documents. But
this one is pretty good and pretty pithy and you can just download it by Googling
"Monterey Consensus" and you'll find the document at many websites. It says in
many places that the financial arrangements between rich and poor countries are
necessarily going to be varied depending on the state of the poor countries. For
a middle-income country a lot of market financial flows might be all that's needed,
not very much in official aid but mainly in foreign investment, for example.

But it says very clearly that for the poorest countries private market flows won't
be enough. What's called Official Development Assistance, which is aid from
governments of rich countries to largely the governments of poor countries,
should be increased significantly. And a famous or notorious or unread
paragraph was part of that negotiation, paragraph 42, which I like to cite at least
once a day, which said by all the signatories, "We urge developed countries that
have not done so to make concrete efforts towards the international target of 0.7
percent of Gross National Product as official development assistance." So this
was the place where the United States and others in my opinion committed to the
0.7 percent of GNP target for official development assistance and the U.S. and
others said that they would make concrete efforts toward that target.

Point seven percent means of course 70 cents out of every $100 of Gross
National Product. In the United States that would be about 84 billion dollars a
year right now, incidentally, coincidentally, almost exactly what we spend in Iraq.
So after that came the Iraq war, after all of this came a lot of change of emphasis
in the world politics and discussion and not a lot happened in practice of making
the MDGs operational between their announcements, Monterey, and today.
When the world leaders signed the Millennium Declaration in March 2000, they
said, "Let's meet again in five years just to be sure we're on track."

And that's what this meeting is. And of course when they get here they're going
to find that they are not on track because for dozens of countries, particularly the
poorest countries in the world and especially in Africa, these countries are not
going to achieve virtually any of the Millennium Development Goals. In Asia, in a
country like Indonesia, it's very, very likely that the goal on poverty will be
achieved because the proportion of the population in poverty is going down very
fast. That's not happening in Africa but it is happening in Asia. But some of the
other goals will not be achieved, the goals regarding maternal mortality or the
goals regarding public health.

And while the goal regarding environmental sustainability is less precise, one can
say that environmental sustainability is not being achieved anywhere on the
planet, including of course Asia, where there is a great deal of environmental
degradation taking place and where the haze of Indonesia's forest burning
continues to disrupt life and lungs all through the Indonesian archipelago as well
as Malaysia and Singapore. So there is a lot of environmental degradation
taking place. All through the last few months there were what are called
intergovernmental negotiations towards this summit. What are we going to do
about it knowing that it will be the last chance actually to make the Millennium
Development Goals operational? Because if you miss this time and say, "We'll
come back in five years," all that would remain is five years more and that would
be too short to turn the ship.

So this is really the last chance for the Goals. Secretary General Kofie Anon
asked me to head a project beginning in 2002 called the Millennium Project to
identify practical means to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and a lot
of the Earth Institute was deeply involved in that as well as colleagues from all
over the world. And we identified what we think is a pretty nifty package, of
course one that differs region by region and specific need of each country to be
taken into account. But the basic idea of the Millennium Project was that what
the poorest countries need is investment. They need investments in the health
sector and education, in infrastructure, in environmental conservation and
ecosystem management and the point is investment rather than just lectures.

Because I say sometimes tendentiously what the aid system has turned into
often is just a lecturing machine saying, "If you weren't so corrupt you could do
better." But it doesn't recognize necessarily the realities of people living in an
impoverished condition. No matter how well-behaved they are they don't have a
surplus of their own saving to invest for the future. And so they can't take the
steps of building the clinics, the schools, the roads, the electric capacity, the safe
drinking water and so forth that is really critical to achieving these goals. So we
argued of course good governance, of course systematic accountability at the
local level, just as President Yudhoyono said, but we also said help from the rich
countries, and we said, lo and behold, the commitment that you made in
Monterey to 0.7 percent, that's actually enough. You don't need more than that.
It's perhaps surprising.

But the rich world is so rich, with an income now of about 30 trillion dollars a
year, of which the U.S. part is about 12 trillion dollars a year, that .7 is about 210
billion dollars a year compared to current aid levels of about 70 billion. If
countries were living at 0.7 commitment there'd be an extra 140 billion dollars a
year of development aid available and that would actually be enough to
undertake all of these investments in controlling malaria and AIDS and TB and
building schools and clinics and water supplies. It wouldn't make the poor rich
but it would make the poor viable in our estimation, viable in the literal sense they
could survive and they could get on with the business of their own economic

And I have come to believe that the 0.7 is the best offer on the planet because
what it is actually is the poorest people in the world saying, "We're not expecting
ten percent of your income," which you could imagine they would say. "We're not
expecting half your income. We don't want a global revolution. We'll accept this
economic order. We just want a little bit less than one percent of your income so
that we can be on the ladder of development as well." If I were a conservative,
which I am not, if I were a conservative I would jump at that offer. What better
way to conserve the basic order because the message from the poor countries is
incredibly responsible. It's saying, "Okay. We'll take on our own responsibility.
Just help us a little bit and we'll even specify what a little bit means, .7 of one
percent of GNP. It's a great bargain."

But not for the Wall Street Journal, not for the Bush White House unfortunately.
For them it seems sometimes that any amount is too much because what's
happened is a fight against any number or any commitment from this country
towards any numerical target and you'll hear U.S. officials saying every day now
in the summit, "We never signed on to a numerical target," at which point I turn a
switch and I say, "We urge developed countries that have not done so to make
concrete efforts towards the target of 0.7 percent of Gross National Product," and
I asked them what's that and they usually say, "Well, what's that? What does it
mean?" When the richest and most powerful country says, "These goals that
we're all operating with," as you heard the president say, "They don't even exist.
We're not going to acknowledge them."

And actually quite an amazing thing happened, which is in a very short period of
time essentially the other 190 countries said, "Yes, they do exist." And the
United States backed down after a few days because they heard in no uncertain
terms there is no agreement on anything if the goals that we're here to recommit
to and to achieve aren't even recognized as goals. And the U.S. government
said, "But we never signed on to the Goals. We signed on to the Declaration."
And the Millennium Project among others sent around sheets showing the Goals
and the Declaration being the same words, 18 targets. These goals didn't come
out of thin air. They came from the Millennium Declaration, which had been
adopted. So this is where the negotiations move to.

In fact, we thought in the Millennium Project and in the United Nations that the
development agenda was going to be pretty much the motherhood and apple pie
part of the summit and that there'd be hardly any discussion about it, because we
thought the contentious part would be the expansion of the Security Council and
who would get a seat and on what terms those new members would get their
seats, with or without veto and permanent or five-year and so on. And actually
that agenda item turned out to be so contentious that it's really not on the agenda
right now. It's been postponed for the whole year debate of the General
Assembly. But it turned out that motherhood and apple pie needed its own
debate. So we've debated motherhood and we're in favor finally in the end.

And the Millennium Development Goals are in the document, as are most of the
rest of the text that Secretary General Kofi Annan recommended to the world
about development. Not all of them. There has been one section, for example,
to give you a flavor of what diplomatic trench warfare is like, there is a
recommendation for a quick impact on malaria. Pretty good idea because it's a
disease that is largely preventable, 100 percent treatable and yet will claim three
million lives this year, more or less. And one of the recommendations that we
made and that most experts in the world make is for the mass, free distribution of
anti-malaria bed nets to people like free distribution of vaccines so that you can
break the transmission of the disease.

Well, there's been a diplomatic row for several days over "free" because the
United States is against the concept of free distribution of these nets and wants
to sell the nets to poor people. And it's very regrettable because they have tried
to sell the nets for a long time and they haven't succeeded in selling the nets
beyond a small proportion of those who need it. And that's why the pandemic
continues to rage and you would think, wouldn't you, that we would have an
evidence-based process to some extent at least, that if you see what you're
doing isn't working you try something different? But we don't, we have
ideologically driven process and the ideology says don't distribute the nets for
free. And that remains even 'til this moment, maybe it's been resolved this
morning, one of the examples of contention. There are many other issues under
debate, including United Nations reform, which has a lot to do with the relative
powers of the Secretary General versus the General Assembly where Secretary
General and the United States in this case feel that there should be more power
vested in the executive of the U.N. and less with the General Assembly.

And many of the governments in the General Assembly want to hold onto their
power over the institution and many feel and I agree with them that that kind of
power in that particular case actually weakens the operational effectiveness of
the U.N. and it leads to a lot of patronage and politics over job employment rather
than professionalism of the institution because you have the executive who
cannot actually manage a large part of the budget internally. And so this is an
area where I personally think the United States is on the right track on
negotiation. I do very much feel that if it hadn't started by trying to slug it out with
the poor countries the U.S. would have gotten much farther along in its own
interests of U.N. reform. But it went after the poorest of the poor first. It wasted
a week or ten days of the world's time in this regard and now there might not be
much catching-up time and more ill will with regard to the U.N. reform where I
think the U.S. position is essentially the correct one for reform.

There are other contentious items, a human rights commission, a peace-building
commission, where the right to protect so-called, which is the question of the
international right and even obligation to intervene within sovereign countries if
it's to protect against a genocide for example. And this is the legacy of Rwanda.
What should the international community do when the national government may
be the perpetrator indeed? And it's saying we have sovereignty, and yet
hundreds and thousands of people are dying internally. How should the
international system respond and the Secretary General has said, "It's not just
governments that have rights; it's people that have rights," and so there should
be international responsibility for protection of people at dire risk like that.

On the other hand people are saying yes, but if the powerful countries can
intervene at will in the weak countries we also know the damage that that can
cause, so it's a very complicated and contentious issue. Today is the transition
from the past General Assembly which ends and the new one which starts today
with the world leaders coming tomorrow. There was supposed to be a document
issued midday today which was the state of the draft declaration. I haven't seen
it yet. I don't know what they've agreed on or whether they've even completed
the work as of now. Most things had been agreed by now, either real agreement
or watering them down enough that there was no specific to it and hoping that
maybe specifics would be added in the General Assembly session, which goes
on for several months after the heads of state have come and departed.

But we'll have the summit itself starting tomorrow and lasting three days. And I'll
only end by saying that with all this effort and what has been an effort of millions
of people actually around these goals and around the efforts to fight extreme
poverty one can only hope that something real comes out of all of this process.
Thanks very much.

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