Horst Köhler

The 41st Munich Security Conference on “Economic Development and Security” was held on 11-12 February 2005 under the motto “Peace through Dialogue”. It was attended by leading politicians from Germany and abroad, such as German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, German Minister of Defence Peter Struck, US Defence Secretary Rumsfeld, Nato General Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and EU foreign policy spokesman Javier Solana. For the first time, the United Nations was represented, by Kofi Annan. The conference opened on 11 February 2005 with a speech from the German President, Horst Köhler, in which he called for more funds to be made available for development cooperation and the fight against poverty. Source: http://www.bundespraesident.de

Economic Development and Security

Speech on the Occasion of the 41st Munich Conference on Security Policy

In Goethe’s famous play “Faust” there is a scene – the walk on Easter morning – in which a burgher declares how interesting it is to chat about war “when off in Turkey, far away, the people clash and fight with one another.” To regard the world from such a comfortable distance – today that is no longer possible. Thanks to television and the Internet, news of disasters anywhere – not only natural disasters but also wars and terrorism – is beamed right into our living-rooms. We are kept fully informed. But we may also be directly affected. The tsunamis that wreaked such havoc on 26 December were a grim reminder that natural disasters can have a global impact.

One thing we have to recognize: there is no way we can opt out of globalization. What we need to do – and this is highlighted by the Indian Ocean disaster, the interdependences in the economy and the environment and by international terrorism as well – is put much greater effort into managing the globalization process.

Today our planet is home to some 6 billion people. That makes it a pretty cramped place, one likely to get more cramped still, for by 2050 the world population may be anything up to 9 billion. What chance is there that these vast numbers of people can live together in peace if more than half of them have to get by on less than 2 US dollars a day to live on? The crisis is not just looming ahead, it is already here. In my view an effective response to this crisis cannot consist merely of efforts to limit its impact, notably its impact on security. Unless we tackle global poverty, long-term security will remain elusive. A strategy for development is by far the best form of conflict prevention! So it should surely give us food for thought that global spending on arms now stands at over 900 billion US dollars, more than ten times the development aid provided by the OECD countries!

Security and economic development are linked. That is almost a platitude. Without security there can be no sustained economic development. Experience teaches that the reverse is also true: persistent and widespread poverty can also undermine the stability of a whole country. Similarly, if large sections of society have no access to their country’s natural wealth or political processes, stability is also at grave risk. There are plenty of cases in point, in Africa particularly, but also in Asia and Latin America.

The consequences of economic hardship or failing states are also felt here in Europe. Just think of the many people from Africa especially who daily attempt in often unseaworthy boats to reach Europe’s southern shores. This poses enormous problems – on the social, economic and also security front – above all for the countries on Europe’s southern flank. In the long run the only way we can come to grips with this situation is through sustained efforts to help the countries of origin develop their economies and improve governance. In the long term that will cost less than building Fortress Europe. But if we do not manage to reduce poverty in Africa, if yet more countries become failed states, we are likely in future to see far more immigrants and “boat people”. And the problems will then be of an entirely different magnitude. We simply cannot afford to waste any more time!

Today the classic concept of security no longer suffices. We need to rethink it to include also socio-economic and cultural factors. In this context the UN uses the term “human security”. Security in this sense is understood to mean protection of people’s basic freedoms but also protection against different kinds of threat. It encompasses also the creation of appropriate structures to protect people’s physical integrity and dignity as well as their ability to make a living. To quote the Commission directly: Human security connects different types of freedoms –freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to take action on one’s own behalf. I am struck by the fact that this definition incorporates elements of the famous four freedoms cited by Theodore Roosevelt as the moral and political justification for the United States entering the Second World War.

With its focus on freedom from want, the human security concept links up with the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, which 184 heads of state and government signed up to in 2000. One of these goals is notably to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015 and to ensure that all children in the world can get a decent education. Those are worthy and important goals.

This year we will be reviewing what headway has been made towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals. On poverty reduction there is progress, but not enough. We need to step up our efforts. That will require better cooperation between rich and poor countries. We are all responsible for ensuring that the Millennium Goals are achieved, but the prime responsibility lies with the developing countries themselves. They neither can nor should be relieved of the responsibility they bear for their own future. It is they who are responsible for good governance and the role of law, the fight against corruption and concrete plans for poverty reduction.

During my visit to Africa in December I found a number of positive changes under way. With the New Partnership for Africa’s Development or NEP AD, a joint strategy for development drawn up by Africans themselves, African leaders have pledged themselves to make good governance a core priority. More than 20 African countries have signed up to the so-called African Peer Review Process. Their policies are now, by common consent, subject to mutual and critical scrutiny. That is an important step forward, for it will help countries not only to identify their problems at an early stage but also to learn from each others’ successes. Many Africans realize that it is they who hold the key to their countries’ economic and political progress. What is needed now is an all-out effort to implement this strategy. There are still abundant forces that could be mobilized to join in this task. I am particularly encouraged by the impressive role played here by Africa’s women and by the wide range of civil society initiatives in this field.

It is not neo-colonial interference, by the way, to demand that the developing countries live up to their responsibilities; it is a duty derived from our shared responsibility for the world that is home to us all.

If the recipient countries meet their responsibilities, the enhanced support that is required from us can make a real long-term difference. And then we must accept being held to our word. If the Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved, more financial assistance must be forthcoming. That is why I will not stop appealing to the industrialized nations, including Germany, to raise their development aid to 0.7% of GNP. That is the target to which they committed themselves over 30 years ago. The gap between target and reality currently amounts to nearly 100 billion US dollars a year. Those are the sums needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Year by year we must do everything in our power to come closer to meeting this target. As far as Germany is concerned, this is not a task to be shouldered by the Federal Finance Minister alone, and putting the blame on others will get us nowhere. Every country and every one of us is called upon to live up to our responsibilities for this one world that is home to us all.

At the same time we must ensure that funds provided for development and poverty reduction actually get to where they are most needed – that we owe to our taxpayers. And we must take vigorous action to speed the creation of a fair trade regime worthy of the name. Fair trade is still the most important contribution the international community can make to the fight against poverty in Africa. We have pledged to make the Doha Round a development round. Here, too, we must honour our word! Then we must be able and willing to support developing countries in their efforts to build viable government structures and also, most importantly, to develop private enterprise.

It is in the interest of every well-governed country to create an environment in which private enterprise thrives. Trade is the best way to help countries help themselves. We must not in effect hinder such countries – by means of subsidies, protectionist practices or other trade restrictions – from becoming part of the global economy. Moreover, we must constantly ask ourselves whether the assistance we are giving is really effective. Our support must be reliable, predictable and optimally coordinated with all parties. If that was already the case, we would today – even with the inadequate funds now available – be much further down the road in the fight against poverty. I would like, for example, to see better liaison and networking between the various institutions involved as weIl as standardized guidelines and criteria for awarding contracts. Donors need to make long-term commitments to building viable government structures and public institutions. I am thinking here of rural development, infrastructure projects and measures to strengthen rule-of-law institutions as well as to promote private enterprise, education and training. Particularly these last two are the most important contribution we can make to limiting population growth in Africa.

None of this is new. The programmes and strategies already exist, all we have to do now is implement them.

Reducing global poverty is not just a matter of enlightened self-interest, it also has a profoundly ethical dimension. I believe we all have a moral duty to ensure that everyone in this one world of ours has the chance to live a decent life. That is part and parcel of the values that are our shared transatlantic heritage and of which we can be rightly proud – at any rate when we practise them in daily life. Obviously we can only do what is possible – but the limits of what is possible have still to be tested!

There is yet another lesson we can learn from Africa: we need to think much harder about how, in a post-conflict situation, we can help bring about long-term stability. In my view it is problematic, for example, to be already planning for this year the progressive withdrawal of the UN’s peace mission from Sierra Leone. There needs to be a greater measure of certainty that Sierra Leone’s government institutions can secure law and order on a sustained basis. The British ten-year commitment to help Sierra Leone build a well-functioning police force I see as a splendid example of the kind of approach that is needed. Particularly for countries engaged in post-conflict rehabilitation, support over the medium and long term is vital.

There are unfortunately no objective criteria for determining when international intervention in a given crisis is warranted or when it should be ended. These are always going to be political decisions, with all the positive and negative ramifications such decisions tend to have. Finding the right approach here is something I believe we still have to work on. Better conflict prevention and crisis management will therefore be one of the major issues to be addressed in the context of United Nations reform.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my conviction that economic development is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for greater global security. It is crucial that we also seek to win over hearts and minds. An important part of that is recognizing and respecting the cultural identity of those we perceive as different from ourselves.

That means we need to engage with other cultures in a process of mutual discovery. This can only be done through dialogue. We can look for common ground, but we must also accept and respect differences. We should be wary of confounding indifference or couldn’t-care-less attitudes with tolerance. In this debate we need to speak up for what we ourselves believe, we need to put across our standpoint actively, vigorously and above all in a credible way. The much-cited dialogue of civilizations is something with which you are all familiar – it is almost a buzzword. And this dialogue is already under way – but obviously only with those who are willing to be involved. But how can we reach the fundamentalists, the fanatics, those who could pose a real threat?

Poverty and perceived threats to cultural identity are often cited as root causes of international terrorism with Islamist connections. We all know, of course, that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks did not come from any poor or uneducated milieu. Yet it is also true that perceived marginalization and lack of prospects may favour a climate that is grist to the terrorists’ mill. So that has to be our starting-point.

Every day, after all, we see what conflicts may emerge when different cultures come face to face. Youths in the slums of Karachi, Cairo, Lagos or Djakarta are constantly confronted with what initially seems a fascinating life-style, the epitome of freedom. But in many respects this life-style is quite incompatible with their own cultural norms and values. The result is a potent mix of fascination, frustration and rejection, which in many cases may generate hatred and violence.

I fear the battle for hearts and minds will be a prolonged and by no means easy one. But it is equally certain it is one we have to wage, for otherwise our efforts to promote security and economic progress will not secure the desired results.

Ladies and gentlemen, three weeks ago I had the opportunity to address the North Atlantic Council. NATO started out as a defence alliance, its members committed to the values of freedom, democracy and human rights. The new security challenges NATO faces today have nothing to do with the threats of the Cold-War era. As a community based on shared values, I believe NATO’s importance, however, has in no war diminished. Indeed, the opposite is true.

Today I am convinced there is a growing awareness, too, that security must also mean giving people in the world’s poorest countries real hope for the future, hope for a life free from fear and want, a life lived in dignity and in keeping with their own cultural values and traditions.

What we need ultimately is a concept of global governance for this one world that is home to us all.

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