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Globalization : Solidarity Must Be One of the Main Obligations of the International Community

Globalization : Chirac's Two Convictions

Message from Jacques Chirac, President of the Republic, at the opening session of the World Bank Conference: "Scaling up poverty reduction: a global learning process". Shanghai, May 26, 2004. Source: Embassy of France, Washington D.C.


  • Eliminating poverty, ensuring universal access to well-being and creating genuine international solidarity are some of the priority goals of our times.

Here in China, as your conference starts, I am sure that each of you will reflect on the experience of this great country and its great people whose progress is a source of hope and inspiration for all poor countries. At the start of the twentieth century, China was suffering from war, poverty and runaway population growth. Having survived a great many jolts and overcome a host of problems and difficulties, she has been engaged for the last quarter of a century in an outstandingly rapid modernization process that has won the admiration of the world. Admittedly, there is still a long way to go, but she has already carved out her place as a major political, economic and cultural power, willing to assume the responsibilities that come with the recovery of her historic status.

The paradox of our world is that it has never been so rich, prosperous, dynamic and innovative, yet half of mankind still live vulnerable lives and a sixth of the world population suffers the direst poverty. This paradox is profoundly shocking. No one can accept it. No one can accept the prospect of a world forever divided between people for whom the future promises everything and so many others abandoned to suffering and despair. This is especially true of you here today, who have the task of embodying international solidarity.

You are responsible for the effective use of official development assistance. The amounts involved look very small compared to the needs and compared to the additional wealth that world economic growth creates each year. You must make the best use of this rare resource to relieve suffering, open up new prospects for the recipients and ensure that it is used most effectively.

As you set to work, I would like to share two basic convictions that motivate me and inspire France’s policies.

  • My first conviction is that solidarity must be one of the main obligations of the international community.

This obligation is, in the first place, an ethical one in an open world where the destinies of nations are interconnected, where anyone can find out what is happening anywhere at any time. It is also a matter of common sense, given the extent of the slowdown of the world economy when the lack of development condemns entire regions to poverty and a seeming lack of prospects. It is finally a political necessity, because the security and stability of the world are under threat from the reactions of populations who are deprived of their basic rights and can feel rejected and humiliated.

It would be particularly irresponsible to shirk our obligation in terms of solidarity because the battle is not a vain one. The examples of South America, Asia and certain African countries show us that it can be won. That sound economic and social policies backed up by efforts to establish good governance can trigger a cycle of growth which can radically transform the face of a country and the future of its people in the space of one or two generations. That is why the pledge we made in New York in September 2000, when we adopted the Millennium Development Goals, is a political and moral imperative for the whole international community, committing both rich and poor countries.

  • My second conviction is that the time for dogmatism, ideology and ready-made solutions has passed.

We need to accept the complexity of the real world, the legacy of history, and the diversity of people and nations, which is the wealth of mankind. We need to treat each people, each region as a special case that requires a specific approach. This is why the success of our action depends on forging a genuine partnership, respecting the identity of all parties, as well as emphasizing the need for general rules of sound economics and good governance. Yesterday’s policies inspired by the concept of “aid” have run their course. The keys to success are ownership and the determination to map out one’s own road to development.

With the commitment we made in Monterrey and the partnership between the developed countries and African countries created with NEPAD, we have opened up a new chapter of confidence and respect, a chapter holding out great promise. The partnership is based on a contract: poor countries conduct policies to achieve good governance, encourage private initiative, establish the critical infrastructures for development, and promote social progress and environmental protection. In return, any country committing itself to this path is assured of obtaining the necessary funds.

  • It is clear that the current volume of official development assistance will not be sufficient, despite the increase seen since 2002.

This is why France is working to increase the amount of concessionary development financing. She is substantially increasing her budget allocations for this purpose. She is promoting the quest for new financing sources, such as the International Finance Facility and the possibility of international taxation, which the World Bank Development Committee now recognizes as a serious proposition. I shall soon be asking the international community to take up this matter.

But the notion of partnership goes far beyond this. It requires us to focus all our efforts on coherent and concerted international and national strategies.

Let us work in the UN and in the International Financial Institutions within mutually-agreed guidelines to achieve each of the Millennium Development Goals.

Let us work under the guidance of local authorities in the developing countries to achieve coordinated use of international assistance.

Let us overcome rivalries and ideological quarrels to achieve more flexible and innovative use of the whole range of development instruments and players, whose complementary nature must be given greater recognition. In a word, let us learn to build a strong, coherent and united development community, wholly dedicated to the sole goal of eliminating poverty.

Thank you.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).