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Sunday, December 4, 2016
Text: Gordon Brown's Pope Paul VI CAFOD Memorial Lecture - part 2
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¬†One of the greatest tribunes of liberty, John Stuart Mill, stated categorically that 'there are many positive acts to the benefit of others which anyone may rightfully be obliged to perform'. And Rousseau wrote that 'as soon as men ceased to consider public service as the principle duty of citizens we may pronounce the state to be on the verge of ruin'. And as Adam Smith - often wrongly seen as the patron of free market capitalism without a conscience - put it: the philosophy of 'all for ourselves and nothing for other people' was a 'vile maxim'. 'Perfection of human nature was to feel much for others and little for ourselves, to restrain our selfish and indulge benevolent affections'. And in that spirit and as he died Smith, not just the writer about the 'invisible hand' but about the 'helping hand', was writing a new chapter for his 'Theory of Moral Sentiments' entitled 'On the Corruption of our Moral Sentiments' which is occasioned by 'the disposition to admire the rich and great and to despise or neglect persons of poor and mean condition'. So the great apostle of freedom believed passionately in justice and in duty to others and saw no contradiction in saying so. And in our century this should be our focus. We should be asking not just what rights you can enforce on others but asking what duties we can discharge for others. Gordon Brown with Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor at the Pope Paul VI memorial lecture Selbourne says duties without rights makes people slaves but rights without duties makes them strangers. Moral strangers demand rights without duties. Moral neighbours say that every time one person's dignity is diminished or taken away through no fault of their own it is an offence against justice. And if the dignity of a child or adult is diminished by poverty, or debt, or unfair trade, we are all diminished. Enlightened self interest may lead us to propose a contract between rich and poor founded upon our mutual responsibilities because of our interdependence. But it is our strong sense of what is just that demands a covenant between rich and poor founded on our moral responsibility to each other ≠ that even if it was not in our narrow self interest to do so it would still be right for every citizen to do ones duty and meet the needs, and enhance the dignity, of strangers. My father used to tell me we can all leave our mark for good or ill ≠ and he quoted Martin Luther King saying everyone from the poorest to the richest can be great because everyone can serve. That all of us, no matter how weak or frail, or at times inadequate, can make a difference for good is emphasised by a story told by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writing of the film 'About Schmidt'. Schmidt ≠ played by Jack Nicholson - describes a futile life of family estrangement ending in an equally meaningless retirement endured with an overriding sense of failure. In the film Schmidt says: 'I know we're all pretty small in the big scheme of things what in the world is better because of me? I am weak and I am a failure there's just no getting around itsoon I will die maybe in twenty years, maybe tomorrow, it doesn't matter when everyone who knew me dies too, it will be as though I never even existed what difference has my life made to anyone? None that I can think of none at all. But then he receives a letter from the teacher of a six year old in Tanzania whom in a small charitable gesture Schmidt has been paying for schooling and health care. The young boy cannot yet write, the teacher says, but he has sent Schmidt a drawing instead. It shows two little line figures, one large and one small, obviously the boy and Schmidt. And the drawing shows them holding hands together as the sun shines down upon their friendship. And so the film ends with Jack Nicholson's character slowly grasping that he has done one good deed in his life ≠ for a stranger ≠ a young child far away whom he has never met. The duty to others done by Schmidt giving his life meaning. Proving that one generous act can redeem a life. So we do live in one interdependent world. We are indeed part of one moral universe. Even the meanest of us possesses a moral sense. What really matters is the compassion we show to the weak. And you value your society not for its wealth and power over others but by how it can empower the poor and powerless. Now that moral sense may not, be 'a strong beacon light radiating outward at all times to illuminate in sharp outline all it touches' as James Q Wilson describes 'The Moral Sense' so brilliantly. Rather the moral sense is like 'a small candle flame flickering and spluttering in the strong winds of passion and power, greed and ideology'. As Wilson says 'brought close to the heart and cupped in ones hand it dispels the darkness and warms the soul'. And even when it burns as a flicker it is still a flame and a flame that can never be extinguished. So we do not wipe out the debt of the poorest countries simply because these debts are not easily paid. We do so because people weighed down by the burden of debts imposed by the last generation on this cannot even begin to build for the next generation. To insist on the payment of these debts offends human dignity - and is therefore unjust. What is morally wrong cannot be economically right. In the words of Isaiah ≠ we must 'undo the heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free'. So let me set out the agenda that flows from our moral sense. In 1997 just one country was going to receive debt relief. Now 27 countries are benefiting with $70 billion dollars of unpayable debt being written off. And it is thanks to your campaigning on debt relief that: * with debt relief in Uganda, 4 million more children now go to primary school; * with debt relief in Tanzania, 31,000 new classrooms have been built and 18,000 new teachers recruited; * with debt relief in Mozambique, half a million children are now being vaccinated against tetanus, whopping cough and diphtheria. But like me, I know you are less interested in what we've done than in what is still to do. And when many countries are still being forced to choose between servicing their debts and making the investments in health, education and infrastructure that would allow them to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we know we must do more. That is why in 2005 we must break new ground, go much further than we have gone before, and why, having heard the proposals you put to us, we are proposing a new set of principles to govern the next stage in debt relief. First, that the richest countries match bilateral debt relief of up to 100 per cent with multilateral debt relief of up to 100 per cent so that all debts are covered. Second, that the cancellation of debts owed to the International Monetary Fund should be financed by using IMF gold. Third, that instead of running down the resources available internationally for development donor countries make a unique declaration that they will cover their share of the World Bank and the African Development Bank's debts on behalf of eligible developing countries. And so that is why Britain has announced that we will relieve those countries still under the burden of this debt to these banks by unilaterally paying our share - 10 per cent - of payments to the World Bank and African Development Bank as we urge other countries to do so. Next, to put our duties to each other at the centre of policy, we also insist on a progressive approach to trade. And fair trade is not just about the financial gains, its also about giving people dignity - enabling people to stand on their own two feet and using trade is a springboard out of poverty. You know the damage that rich countries protectionism has done to entrench the poverty of the poorest countries. We spend as much subsidising agriculture in the European Union as the whole income of all the 689 million people in Sub Saharan Africa taken together. The money that the US spends just in subsidising 25,000 cotton farmers dwarfs the total income of Burkino Faso where 2 million people are dependent on cotton for their livelihoods. And for every dollar given to poor countries in aid, two dollars are lost because of unfair trade. So 2005 is the time to send a signal and to agree a new policy. First, it is time for the richest countries to agree to end the hypocrisy of developed country protectionism by opening our markets, removing trade-distorting subsidies and in particular, doing more to urgently tackle the scandal and waste of the Common Agricultural Policy shows we believe in fair trade. Second, it is time to move beyond the old Washington consensus of the 1980s and recognise that while bringing down unjust tariffs and barriers can make a difference, developing countries must also be allowed to carefully design and sequence trade reform into their own Poverty Reduction Strategies. And third, because it is not enough to say 'you're on your own, simply compete' we have to say 'we will help you build the capacity you need to trade' - not just opening the door but helping you gain the strength to cross the threshold. We have to recognise that developing countries will need additional resources from the richest countries both to build the economic and infrastructure - capacity they need to take advantage of trading opportunities - and to prevent their most vulnerable people from falling further into poverty. And our discussion of debt relief and trade leads to the essential challenge of 2005, that our new deal with the developing countries must involve a transfer of resources. Not aid as compensation for being poor but aid as investment in the future. And so like debt and trade this is about enhancing the dignity and potential of each individual. Since the 1980s aid to Africa, which was $33 per person ten years ago, had halved to just $19 per person now. So we need a new financing programme. Thanks to your campaigning, we are the first UK Government to be able to announce a timetable for 0.7 per cent. And over the next year we plan to ask other countries to join us and nine others in becoming countries which have set a timetable towards 0.7. But the truth is that the scale of the resources needed immediately to tackle disease, illiteracy and global poverty is far beyond what traditional funding can offer today. That is why the UK Government as part of the financing package to reach the Millennium Development Goals has put forward its proposal for stable, predictable, long-term funds frontloaded to tackle today's problems of poverty, disease and illiteracy through the bold initiative of a new global finance facility. The International Finance Facility is in the tradition of the Marshall Plan of 1948, when to finance the development of a ravaged post war Europe, the richest country in the world - the USA - agreed to transfer one per cent of their national income each and every year for four years ≠ a transfer in total of the equivalent in today's money of $75 billion a year. And it is modelled on the founding principles of the World Bank in 1945 where nations provided resources to an international institution that then borrowed on the international capital markets. Let me explain what the IFF could achieve for the world's poor. The IFF is founded upon long-term, binding donor commitments from the richest countries like ourselves. It builds upon the additional $16 billion dollars already pledged at Monterrey. And on the basis of these commitments and more it leverages in additional money from the international capital markets to raise the amount of development aid for the years to 2015. By locking in commitments from a wide range of donors, the IFF would enable us to front load aid for investment in development, enabling a critical mass of predictable, stable and coordinated aid as investment to be deployed over the next few years when it will have the most impact in achieving the Millennium Development Goals - saving lives today that would otherwise be lost. The IFF would enable us to invest simultaneously across sectors ≠ in education and health, trade capacity and economic development - so that instead of having to choose between urgent emergency disaster relief and long term investment the impact of extra resources in one area reinforces the investment in another. And the IFF will allow us to attack the root causes of poverty not just the symptoms - focusing on developing the capacity and the dignity people need to help themselves. And let me just explain the scale of what I am proposing. In all our campaigns taken together we have managed to raise international aid from 50 billion dollars a year to 60 billion. Our proposal is to raise development aid immediately not from 60 billion to 65 billion or even 70 billion but effectively a doubling of aid to over 100 billion dollars per year. With one bold stroke: to double development aid to halve poverty. An extra 50 billion that will allow us to attack the root causes of poverty not just the symptoms, and to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The aim of the International Finance Facility is to bridge the gap between promises and reality. Between hopes raised and hopes dashed. Between an opportunity seized and an opportunity squandered. Of course we will continue to look at other means - international taxes, more resources direct to development banks, the IMF and the World Bank but the practical benefits of the IFF are: * we provide the support poor countries need immediately to invest in infrastructure, education and health systems, and economic development so they can benefit from access to our markets; * we provide grants to help ensure a sustainable exit from debt; * we make primary schooling for all not just a distant dream but a practical reality - meeting these needs and rights now and not deferring them to an uncertain future; * and we meet our global goals of cutting infant mortality and maternal mortality, eliminating malaria and TB and treating millions more people who are suffering from HIV/AIDS. I thank the Holy See and the growing number of countries who have indicated support for the IFF ≠ including, of the G7, France and last week Italy. And let me give an example of what we can do today and now if we work together. Let me give an illustration of what - because of the IFF model - is already possible. The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation ≠ who have immunised over the last five years not a few children but a total of 50 million children round the world - is interested in applying the principles of the IFF to the immunisation sector - donors making long term commitments that can be securitised in order to frontload the funding available to tackle disease. If, by these means, GAVI could increase the funding for its immunisation programme by an additional $4 billion over ten years, then it would be possible that their work could save the lives of an additional 5 million people between now and 2015. So in one fund, with one initiative, we can glimpse the possibilities open to us if we act together. If we could do the same for health, for schools, for debt, for the capacity to trade, for research and advance purchasing of drugs to cure malaria and HIV/AIDS, think of the better world we can achieve. So with next year ≠ 2005 ≠ the year of the UK's G8 Presidency, the push for G8 progress starts now. You have set a challenge for 2005, with 2005 a make or break year for development, a moment of opportunity for development and debt relief, a challenge Tony Blair, Hilary Benn and I know we must, for the sake of the world's poorest, not squander but must seize. An opportunity to make a breakthrough on debt relief and development, on tackling disease and on delivering the Doha development round on trade. We must rise to the challenge and we accept that we will be judged by what we achieve. So the task for Government now is to replace talk by action, initiatives by results and rise to the challenge - pledging to strive for urgent progress both on the priorities of finance for development and trade. And as you take forward your 2005 campaigns, I know you will hold us accountable as you have done so far, that you will challenge us, be the conscience of the world, be the voice that guides as at this crucial crossroads. Toni Morrison said that 'courage is to recognise and identify evil but never fear or stand in awe of it'. And let that be our inspiration as we think of Africa. 30,000 children will die needlessly today. If this happened in our country we would act now immediately together. We would indeed conclude it should never be allowed to happen anywhere. Yet today 30,000 children will die. Each child a unique personality. Each child precious. Each one loved, almost every one who could live if the medicines and treatments available here were available there. But each one of those 30,000 children will struggle for breath - and for life - and tragically and painfully lose that fight. And I know what you are thinking. If I could this day help one single child who might otherwise die live. If I could today and tonight prevent one avoidable death. If I could prevent a single child from needless suffering. If I could turn the despair of a mother worried about her child from desolation to hope. Then it would make everything I do worthwhile. But if we could together by our actions help thousands, hundreds of thousands and millions. And if we could with all the power at our command, working together, collectively change the common sense of the age so that people saw that poverty was preventable, should be prevented and then had to be prevented, so that we met the Millennium development Goals not in 2150 but in 2015, then all else we do in our lives would pale into insignificance and every effort would be worth it. As Bono has said ≠ It's not enough to describe Everest. We have to climb it. And it's not enough to picture the New Jerusalem. We must build it. But when people say debt relief, trade justice and finance for health and education is an impossible dream, I say: * people thought the original plans for the World Bank were the work of dreamers; * people thought that the Marshall Plan unattainable; * even in 1997 when we came to power people thought debt relief was an impossible aspiration and yet already with your support we are wiping out up to $100 billion dollars of debt; * people thought no more countries would sign up to a timetable for 0.7 per cent in Overseas Development Aid and yet year this year alone five countries have done so. So when the need is even more urgent and our responsibilities even more clear; and even when the path ahead difficult hard and long, let us not lose hope but have the courage in our shared resolve to find the will to act. Let us hear the words of Isaiah 'Though you were wearied by the length of your way, you did not say it was hopeless - you found new life in your strength'. And let us answer with Isaiah also as our motto for 2005: that we shall indeed 'renew our strength, rise up with wings as eagles, walk and not faint, run and not be weary'. A few weeks ago I cited a famous saying of more than one hundred years old - that the arc of the moral universe is long but it does bend towards justice. This was not an appeal to some iron law of history but to remind people that by our own actions we can and do change the world for good. And I believe that: * with the scale of the challenge revealed; * with the growth of public pressure you have started in Britain and in other countries; * and if there is a determination among world leaders to be bold; building upon our moral sense, the arc of the moral universe while indeed long will bend towards justice in the months and years to come.
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