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Clinton's Remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative, September 2012

Speaker: Hillary Rodham Clinton
Published September 24, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave these remarks in New York on September 24, 2012.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much. Of all the useless introductions I've ever given, this would top the list. (Laughter.)

We've already had a good morning laughing and talking about what happened yesterday, getting a report from Chelsea about a dinner she attended last night. I just wanted to say one thing to set this little talk the Secretary of State's going to give up. More than 40 years ago when I met Hillary, she was already sort of a walking NGO. (Laughter.) She was doing all this stuff before most of the rest of us discovered it was a fruitful way to spend a life.

And as Secretary of State, she has done an enormous amount to extend the diplomatic efforts of the United States into not just stopping bad things from happening or diffusing crises or dealing with all the things that she'll have to deal with today as soon as she leaves us, which means she may drag out her remarks a little bit to avoid having to face some of them. She tries to make good things happen, especially in this space we're discussing today. I don't think any American official has ever done more to try to raise the issues of girls and women around the world and what dealing with this means for the future of peace and security and prosperity of the world. And for that reason more than any other, I am very glad that she could join us here this morning.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. Good morning. Thank you all very, very much. Good morning. It is – (applause) – thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Well, it's good to be amongst so many friends. (Laughter.) And I look out at this audience and I see so many of you whom I have worked with and known for such a long time. It is so good to be here at the Clinton Global Initiative. I would be absolutely crazy to try to recognize anyone in this audience, but I do want to say how pleased we are to see John and Annie Glenn here today. (Applause.) I am thrilled to see them, and talk about a lifetime of service, both on the Earth and in the galaxy. Thank you.

I look forward to CGI, much as you do, because I always learn something new, and I'm always inspired by what each of you is doing to help solve problems and seize opportunities around the world. And for me, I usually get it second, third, and fourth-hand from all of the people who are participating. But I know the impact that CGI has because it certainly has had an impact on how I've tried to think about the development work and the partnerships that the United States needs to have around the world.

I don't need to tell you this is a time of such great change. New technologies are transforming how people everywhere work, learn, and communicate. Demographic shifts are remaking societies with huge numbers of young people in some places and disproportionate numbers of older people in others. The democracy movements that have sprung up worldwide create exciting possibilities for countries that have been ruled for years by dictators, but they also pose, as we have dramatically seen, great challenges as people grapple with how to turn their democratic ideals into functioning governments and prosperous economies.

Emerging powers like China, Brazil, and India have a bigger hand in shaping world events, which is helping to reshape the global order, changing how countries engage with each other, and how companies do business – many of those represented here – as well as how foundations and universities think about forging partnerships worldwide.

Now in the face of all this change, those who care about having an impact on the world have to do two important things at once. We must think and act innovatively and be willing to change ourselves to keep pace with the change around us, and at the same time, we must stay true to our values. Otherwise, we will lose our way. Now from my conversations with many of you, I know that you yourselves, your organizations, your businesses are working every day to do that. Well, so is the United States. And there is no area in which this is more evident than in our development efforts. And that's what I want to talk with you briefly about today because it dovetails with what CGI really represents.

Now I know effective development is close to the hearts of many of you in this room, and it's close to my heart as well. As Bill said, it's something that I've worked on my entire adult life, and I've certainly spoken here before about how vital it is to our national interests and to our efforts to build a world that is more stable, more prosperous, and more free.

And so the Obama Administration has elevated development as an essential pillar of our national security alongside defense and diplomacy. First thing I said upon becoming Secretary of State is that we could no longer have defense over here with our military – the most extraordinary young men and women in the world – but we needed to integrate defense with diplomacy and development. And we also had to change the way we did both diplomacy and development. Respecting development first, because while we had achieved strong results in some places, we were certain we could do better.

Second, because true transformation comes only through sustainable strategies. And too often in the past, we had focused, understandably, on the urgent and immediate at the expense of the long term.

Third, because the landscape of development has changed. The strategies that we had used in the past were no longer sufficient. Consider this: In the 1960s, official development assistance from countries like the United States represented 70 percent of the capital flows going into developing countries. Since then, we've increased our development budgets, and yet even with those increases, development assistance now represents just 13 percent of capital flowing into developing countries because the amount of investment, trade, domestic resources, and remittances to those countries has skyrocketed.

Now, that's a good thing. And it means we have to spend development dollars differently, which I'll return to in a moment. Further, the number of recipients of development assistance with the capacity to design and implement their own development programs has grown considerably. So we have to ask ourselves: How do we take advantage of that capacity and reinforce it? New partners have become involved in development, including former recipients of aid who are now new donors themselves. And how can we help them contribute to effective, common solutions? Massive political change is unfolding in several places where we work. How can our development assistance help drive that change in the right direction?

Now these are some of the questions that we have asked ourselves from the start of this Administration, and today I want to talk to you about what we've learned and how we're applying those lessons to our development work around the world, and I want to talk about the challenges that still remain and how all of you can help us solve them. I'll focus on three overarching objectives of this Administration's approach.

The first is we want to move from aid to investment. When development assistance represented a much greater portion of a country's resources, we had to be smart about how to use it, no question. Yet the situation was often more stark and less complex. People needed food and medicine and schools and wells and power in order to develop. And assistance was one of the few and only ways they could get it.

But today, with so many other resources flowing into developing countries, development assistance can and should play a different role. We have to think differently about how it fits into a more dynamic economic picture, and how it can be a catalyst for economic growth and self-sustaining progress.

For example, there are risks that discourage companies from doing business in developing countries. And I heard yesterday at the opening plenary that Jim Kim really made a most generous and important offer: Companies should go to the World Bank and ask about risk assessment; that's what the World Bank does for every country in the world. Well, you can also come to the State Department. We do the same. And through our development programs, we can help to mitigate and reduce investment risks. There are structural barriers that prevent citizens from contributing to their economies like outdated land tenure laws, the lack of access to education. And through development, we can help development organizations and private sector interests tackle those problems. USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, for example, assist on strategies to strengthen property rights and expand schooling and can work in partnership with private sector partners.

There are many entrepreneurs in developing economies who are ready to launch new businesses, but first they need access to credit. We can help more domestic and international financial institutions provide it, such as through loan guarantees by the U.S. Development Credit Authority and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

In the 21st century, the work of development must include all this and more. We're not only providing aid to people in crisis, we are making strategic investments, some of which may pay off right away, but others further down the road in stronger communities and long-term economic growth.

One example of this aid-to-investment approach is in Haiti, which you may hear more about today when my Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills speaks. Five months ago, a shipment of sewing machines was unpacked at the brand new Caracol Industrial Park in northern Haiti. The first tenant was the Korean apparel company, Sae-A, one of the largest garment manufacturers in the world. Today, that factory has 800 employees, most of them women who have never had a formal sector job before. Many are graduates of a new vocational training center nearby. By the end of the year, Sae-A will nearly double their employees, and they're on track to reach their goal of creating 20,000 jobs by 2016. Additionally, a new power plant opened this year to serve the industrial park and surrounding communities. Nine buildings, including factories, warehouses, and offices, have been built and more are under construction. A second tenant, a Haitian company, has just moved in.

Now this is part of a much larger coordinated strategy between the Government of Haiti, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the United States Government, and the private sector to create access to jobs, housing, electrification, transportation, and agricultural development. And these types of investments, when married with the entrepreneurial spirit of the Haitian people, are helping to catalyze growth in Haiti's north.

Now, I have to say this was controversial. When Cheryl and I first started working on this, there were a lot of development professionals and experts who really were quite concerned, and even skeptical. But you cannot have development in today's world without partnering with the private sector, and that has been our mantra, and we are now creating examples. Are there pitfalls? Are there problems? Of course there are. There is with any kind of organized effort at development. But the fact is that including the private sector gives developing economies new opportunities.

In the last decade, for example, six of the world's ten fastest-growing countries were in Africa. That number will soon rise to seven. In the wake of the global financial crisis, many developing countries grew faster and more steadily than the world's biggest economies. And private sector investments there often yield greater returns than those in more developed markets. In a few areas in particular, infrastructure, energy, and agriculture, development intersects with business opportunities, and the State Department is working to get more American companies invested in those fields in developing countries.

Now, wise investors, of course, choose their investments carefully and they manage for risks. And when a particular investment is not producing the projected returns, they have to make the tough decision about whether to modify or eliminate it. All this must be true in government sponsored development aid too. We need to be as rigorous as possible about producing tangible results.

The second objective of this Administration's approach to development is what we call country ownership. Now that's a phrase people use a lot in development circles without always being clear about its meaning, so let me be clear about what it means to us. It doesn't mean some things that people immediately leap to. It doesn't mean, as some have feared, that donors are supposed to keep money flowing indefinitely while recipients decide how to spend it. It doesn't mean government-run, freezing-out civil society groups and faith-based organizations. And country-owned certainly doesn't mean that countries are on their own. To us, country ownership means that a nation's efforts are increasingly led, implemented, and eventually paid for by its government, communities, civil society, and private sector.

Now, to get there, we all have to play our part. A country's political leaders must set priorities and set national plans to accomplish them with input from their citizens. They must follow through on those commitments and hold themselves accountable. And donors, like the United States, must be willing to follow our partner country's lead.

Now at times that will mean setting aside our own policy preferences or development orthodoxies. Developing countries have access to evidence-based analysis and best practices, so they're engaged and equipped to decide what will work for their country, and we have to promote that so that they begin to take this responsibility and accountability.

Country ownership is also about funding. We aim for nations to be able to pay for more of their own development. But more than that, it's about countries building the capacity to set priorities, manage resources, develop their own plans, and carry them out. And we can all agree that should be the goal.

Now progress is already occurring. For example, several countries have taken greater ownership over their health care systems. Sierra Leone has enlisted more than 1,700 women to serve as health monitors, checking up on local clinics and reporting problems back to the National Health Ministry. The Government of Botswana now manages, operates, and pays for their national HIV treatment programs. And with our support through PEPFAR, it's working with American universities to build a medical school that will train their nation's next generation of health care workers.

In India, when the National AIDS Control program was launched six years ago, half of its budget came from outside donors. Today, less than one-fifth does; the Indian Government covers the rest. And Rwanda and the United States are now working toward a new kind of partnership. The United States will continue to provide support for our health programs, including PEPFAR, as well as programs on maternal and child health, family planning, and TB. But the Rwandan Government will do the managing, monitoring, and evaluating of these programs, and most will be run through Rwanda's own public system. We've already transferred patients receiving care through PEPFAR to clinics run by Rwandans. Meanwhile, Rwanda's increased ownership and capacity frees our resources so that we can focus more on a priority that they've identified, namely, training local healthcare workers. Because in the face of the HIV/AIDS crisis over the last 10-15 years, we have brought a lot of resources, including human resources, to countries, but they must be able to start building their own resources.

Now because of partnerships like these, we are establishing a new Office of Global Health Diplomacy at the State Department, which will coordinate our diplomatic engagement and provide our ambassadors with the tools and information they need to have a greater impact where the real healthcare work is happening on the ground.

Let me mention one other key aspect of what country ownership means. It means ownership by the whole country – men and women. A growing body of evidence proves what is intuitive: When more women enter the workforce, it spurs innovation, increases productivity, and grows economies. Families then have more money to spend, businesses can expand their consumer base and increase their profits. In short, everyone benefits.

Now country ownership naturally leads to our third goal: putting ourselves out of business. It still surprises me that this is a controversial thing to say. It shouldn't be. Around the world, I hear from leaders who know that ultimately it must be their responsibility to provide economic opportunity, healthcare, good schools for their people. And they do not want to turn to other nations forever to help meet those responsibilities. And frankly, I look forward to the day when our development assistance will no longer be needed, when it is replaced by strong public institutions and civil societies, when private sector investments and trade are robust in both directions, and people have the chance, through their own hard work, to build better lives for themselves and their families.

So putting ourselves out of business means putting a special emphasis on self-sufficiency. So we are working with partner countries to strengthen their political will for reform and provide technical assistance on issues like taxation so they can mobilize their own domestic resources for long-term development.

And one of the issues that I have been preaching about around the world is collecting taxes in an equitable manner, especially from the elites in every country. (Laughter.) You know I'm out of American politics, but – (applause) – it is a fact that around the world, the elites of every country are making money. There are rich people everywhere. And yet they do not contribute to the growth of their own countries. They don't invest in public schools, in public hospitals, in other kinds of development internally. And so it means for leaders telling powerful people things they don't want to hear. It means being transparent about budgets and revenues and bringing corruption to light. And when that happens, we shouldn't punish countries for uncovering corruption. We should reward them for doing so. And it means putting in place regulations designed to attract and protect investment.

I just met in the last few days with the new president of a country who is trying to tackle corruption, and I said, "Well, I have here a lot of the international lists of where your country stands on business climate, on corruption, on government transparency, and you are near or at the bottom. And it is time for you to recognize that in an interconnected global economy, you will benefit from doing what you should be doing internally for yourself." And so we have to have that kind of hard talk, which we do on a regular basis.

So for nearly four years, this Administration has been updating our development assistance with these objectives in mind. We designed our Feed the Future food security initiative and our Global Health Initiative with an emphasis on country ownership and investment. We launched an ambitious reform initiative under Dr. Raj Shah's leadership, USAID Forward, which among other things focuses on how to identify and bring to scale path-breaking innovations. And we're creating groundbreaking renewable energy investment vehicles in Africa through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. And we've launched a range of public-private partnerships through our Global Partnership Initiative. In fact, I announced one example here two years ago, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which is working to help 100 million households in developing countries switch to clean cookstoves by 2020 to save lives, improve health, and reduce climate change.

But there still is a lot of work for us to do, and that's where you come in. There's one further step in particular I want to mention. I'll be speaking about this at greater length later in the year, and that is investing more deeply in a broader range of partners. Today, much of our development assistance is still invested through one group of partners – international NGOs. They have expertise and local knowledge, and they can respond quickly when needed. We want to continue our successful relationships with them, but we also need to broaden and increase our network of partnerships to advance our work in development. Given the landscape we face, that makes sense.

Now this is the next big leap, because we need you to help us make it. The entire spectrum of the international development community is represented in this audience. And there are steps we can start taking together. Let's start viewing all our separate efforts as a portfolio of complementary investments. Rather than measuring only development assistance by governments, we should also measure the full set of investments by businesses, by civil society groups and the multilaterals, to get the whole picture of the scope and scale of our combined engagement. And let's do a better job of measuring our own performances, including how well we leverage partnerships, and be transparent with the results. And we should measure the performance of our partners, not just our projects. The process may frankly be uncomfortable for all of us, but it is essential for getting better results.

So as we work toward the next round of global development goals – not only the Millennium Development Goals, some of which we've made progress on, others of which are still out of reach – but also the new effort that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon talked about yesterday on sustainable development goals. Let's redouble our commitment to multi-partner approaches that bring all of us together. Increasingly, as everyone at CGI knows well, our goals and efforts overlap, and we should deepen our cooperation.

Now all of the work I've described briefly today reflects America's enduring commitment to help more people in more places live up to their God-given potential, to chart their own destinies, and realize the full measure of their human dignity. Dignity is a word that has a lot of resonance in development. It may mean different things to different people and cultures, but it speaks to something universal in all of us. As one Egyptian observed in the wake of that country's revolution, freedom and dignity are more important than food and water. When you eat in humiliation, you can't taste the food.

So for the United States, as we pursue our development agenda around the world, working to improve and save lives, to spur growth, we are working to advance freedom and dignity. We are standing up for democracies that unlock people's potential and standing against extremists who exploit people's frustrations. We are trying to help societies leave behind old enmities and look ahead to new opportunities. We are backing reformers who build accountable institutions and combat corruption that stifles innovation, initiative, hope, and yes, dignity.

And we are championing the universal human rights of all people, including the right to worship freely, to assemble and protest peacefully, and yes, to freedom of expression. These rights are bound together, inseparable not just in our own constitution, but in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Threatening one threatens all. Each of these steps helps create the conditions where people can reach for and find a sense of dignity for themselves and their societies. But dignity does not come from avenging insults, especially with violence that can never be justified.

It comes from taking responsibility and advancing our common humanity.

If you look around the world today, countries that are focused more on fostering growth than fomenting grievance are racing ahead. Building schools instead of burning them; investing in their people's creativity, not inciting their rage; opening their economies and societies to have more connections with the wider world, not shutting off the internet or attacking embassies. The people of the Arab world did not set out to trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob. There is no dignity in that. The people of Benghazi sent this message loudly and clearly on Friday when they forcefully rejected the extremists in their midst and reclaimed the honor and dignity of a courageous city.

They mourned the loss of Ambassador Chris Stevens, a friend and champion of a free Libya, and his fallen comrades. They are not alone. People and leaders from across the region and the world and beyond have spoken in recent days against violence. Foreign Minister of Tunisia came to Washington last week and personally underscored his country's stand. And unity on this throughout the international community is crucial, because extremists around the world are working hard to drive us apart. All of us need to stand together to resist these forces and to support democratic transitions underway in North Africa and the Middle East.

Throughout this week as I engaged my counterparts from many nations, we discussed and we will continue here at the United Nations how we can work together to build lasting partnerships focused on freedom, human dignity, and development, fostering democracy and universal values. And we need your help and leadership – citizens, businesses, NGOs, nonprofits, the faith community, everyone – we are called to this great cause of the 21st century. Here at CGI you are standing up for what we need more of in the world.

So thank you. Thank you for devoting your energy, your efforts and your resources to improving our world one day at a time. And thank you for backing your words with concrete commitments that I know are solving problems and changing lives. You reaffirm my faith in the future we are building together. So let's get to work for more freedom, democracy, opportunity, and dignity. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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