I am pleased to be able to speak on this very fine motion proposed by the Green Party, an Comhaontas Glas. It is much more than an omnibus motion. It is a linked motion with an integrated approach and one I fully support.
On behalf of the Labour Party, we are not suggesting the Government has sat on its hands. We are suggesting that the Government has broken its promise given before the United Nations and with appalling consequences. This debate is not an occasion for self-congratulation but one of deep shame. I appreciate the presence in the House of two previous Ministers of State with responsibility for development co-operation, Deputies O'Donnell and Kitt, for whom I have the greatest respect. The current Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, also honours us with his presence.
The context in which discussion of the motion takes place is that of the world millennium development goals, eight targets adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000. The goals can be summarised as follows: the reduction by half of those living in poverty and hunger by 2015; the achievement of universal primary education; the elimination of gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005 and at all levels by 2015; the reduction of child mortality among under fives by two thirds; the reduction of the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters; the halting of the spread of HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, measles and malaria; the ending of environmental degradation and the achievement of a sustainable environment, a most welcome feature of this motion; and the creation of a fair global partnership for development. The final millennium goal is seldom discussed by the media simply because it imposes obligations on the richest countries and those who possess great power in the area of trade.
En passant, I will make a few points on the contributions I have heard this evening. Anybody who suggests the economic partnership agreements, EPAs, as negotiated, are fair or rules based must not have read the text. I appreciate Deputy Andrews’s interest in EPAs, which are much worse than the World Trade Organisation. For example, they re-introduce the Singapore issues, which were dropped between Doha and the resumption of the talks next December. Put simply, they are unequal bullying arrangements applied to African countries by Europe.
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, a person to whom many speakers justifiably referred, has summarised the impact of the eight millennium goals were they to be achieved between 2005 and 2015. I will speak as plainly as I can on this issue. If the goals were achieved, 500 million people would be lifted out of extreme poverty, 300 million people would no longer suffer from hunger, 350 million fewer people would lack access to clean water, 650 million people would have greater access to sanitation, 30 million children who would otherwise have died would be alive and the lives of 2 million women who would have died in childbirth would be saved.
The achievement of the millennium development goals constitutes the greatest moral challenge of our time. Politically, it offers the best possible basis for a secure and responsible world. Socially and culturally, it vindicates the right of different societies to exist and flourish, tell their own stories, access their own memory and imagine their own future. Economically, it makes possible the emergence of new and exciting models of connection between the economy, society and culture. Ecologically, the achievement of the goals in the context of sustainable development would constitute a contribution to the planet as a whole that would stand as a contrast to the desolation visited on our common inheritance by irresponsible despoliation and abuse of resources in what is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the developed world.
The achievement of the millennium goals will require a new partnership between the developed and developing world. It has implications for trade, aid, debt relief, reform of the international financial institutions and politics at every level.
En passant, I will put another question to the Minister of State du jour, Deputy Conor Lenihan, and his predecessor, Deputy Kitt. If they want reform of the international financial institutions, will they agree that officials from Development Co-operation Ireland will be nominated to serve in the advisory section of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank alongside officials from the Central Bank and Department of Finance? It would be interesting to have a straight answer to this straight question. Equally, if we were ever serious about achieving the target of allocating 0.7% of GDP to development co-operation, why was the Cassidy report on manpower requirements of DCI not implemented?
Before I deal with the sanctimonious notion that it may not have been possible to spend all the money envisaged under the 0.7% commitment, was it ever intended to spend it? Are staff changes and recruitment indicative of any serious intent?
As Professor Sachs puts it in his report to the UN Secretary General entitled, Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals:
Fortunately the costs of achieving the Goals are entirely affordable and well within the promises of 0.7 per cent of GDP made at Monterrey and Johannesburg. The required doubling of annual official development assistance to $135 billion in 2006, rising to $195 billion by 2015, pales beside the wealth of high-income countries — and the world's military budget of $900 billion a year.
I am glad reference was made to militarisation. In 2004, the United States budget for military expenditure was $450 billion dollars, while its expenditure on the tied aid it provides, which amounts to 0.15% of GDP, was $15 billion. The cost to date of the Iraq war is more than $180 billion.
To return to Professor Sachs report, he states that "the increased development assistance for the Goals will only amount to one half of one per cent of rich countries' combined income." We should recall that those affected have been made many promises previously, including the new international economic order of the late 1970s which, I recall clearly, made an appeal to self-interest but was quickly cast aside as a single hegemonic neo-liberal model, established itself in the developed world and became an imposed instrument by the international financial institutions on the developing world.
Previous speakers referred to trust. It is important we do not break our word again. We gave a commitment to a world in which 2 billion people live in poverty, 30,000 children die every day, 500,000 mothers died last year during pregnancy, 3 million children died from AIDS last year, 120 million children have no access to primary education and 1 billion people have no access to sanitation, with all the medical consequences of this.
We do not need to be reminded of these terrible and entirely avoidable statistics, or perhaps we do at a time when our Government is breaking its promise to the poorest of the poor. A UNICEF report in 1989 calculated that the additional financial resources required to meet the most essential of human needs by the year 2000 would be between $30 billion and $50 billion dollars per annum, approximately one twentieth of military expenditure in that year.
We were here before — in 1989 — when we looked forward to 2000. In that year, primary health care could have been made available at a cost of around $5 per person, primary education or adult literacy could have been provided at a cost of $25 per person and basic sanitation of piped water would have cost $6 per person per annum. The opportunity of responding at the end of the 1980s, like the opportunity of creating a new economic order at the end of the 1970s, was lost. Trust is, therefore, crucial as we face into the challenge we have accepted of achieving the world millennium development goals by 2015.
The worst aspects of the Government's failure thus far to meet the commitments solemnly given to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2000 is the betrayal of trust involved and the bad example it gives not only to fellow members of the European Union but to the entire international community. We no longer compare ourselves to countries such as Norway which has raised its commitment to 1% of GDP. Instead, the Taoiseach this morning compared himself to President Bush. There is a moral message in this development.
Ireland was held up as an example to others when the Taoiseach stated unequivocally that we would reach the UN target of 0.7% in 2007. Our commitment was particularly appreciated in continents such as Africa, which so desperately need untied aid and genuine assistance with their task of development, and the votes of African countries followed. Now, Ireland will be remembered as the country that became too rich to keep its promise to the poorest of the world. No other logical construction can be put on the Taoiseach's comments today other than that if Ireland had entered a recession, he would have been able to keep his promise. Unfortunately, however, as a result of Ireland becoming rich, he cannot keep it.
The world we have made, and that we are now in the process of remaking, is increasing its military expenditure and reducing its expenditure on aid. In 1995, global military expenditure was $864 billion while the estimated global expenditure on the treatment of AIDS, TB and malaria was $15 billion. Between 1945 and 1995, 23 million people, military and civilian, died due to war. In the same period, 150 million died due to AIDS, TB and malaria. These matters can be addressed now.
Today and every day, 3,000 people die from malaria, three out of four of them children. Every year 1.5 million die from TB and 8 million are infected. Those are just some of the features our commitment was to address when it was given in September 2000. They have not changed. We have changed in our commitment. The world to which our commitment was addressed has got worse.
Next year there will be a review of where all countries stand in the achievement of these goals. The special representative appointed by Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, to canvass for achievement of these goals is a former Development Minister, Eveline Herfkens. She has expressed her grave disappointment at Ireland's announcement that it will not meet its commitment. Those who had welcomed Ireland's commitment will see the breach of trust and the bad example it gives as little more than a betrayal.
Already there is a shortfall on the commitments made towards fulfilling the millennium development goals. The AIDS-HIV action programme has a shortfall of more than 50%. As the directors of a number of non-governmental organisations have pointed out, more than 8,000 people die from AIDS every day and, in that context, our Government's decision is "a shameful breach of faith with the world's poorest people", as Mr. Hans Zomer of Dóchas said when speaking for a group that represents 34 development organisations.
The Government announced its commitment in September 2000. It was a commitment that it repeated as late as the 58th General Assembly of the United Nations in 2003. It included the commitment in its Government programme. It negotiated with the trade union movement on the basis of the commitment with the assumption that the mid-term point would be 0.45%. The Government never reached that, and now its achievement in 2005 is at most 0.41%, including the additional €10 million being spent on tsunami relief. At the present rate it would not reach its 0.7% commitment until 2028.
I wonder if the Government realises the support here for honouring our commitments on aid, for being a leader in the case for fair trade, implementing a meaningful cancellation of debt and being courageous in supporting such initiatives as the Tobin tax. There is every evidence that the public have a morally more advanced position than the Government on each of these.
Tonight we are not just discussing aid, but an integrated approach in a comprehensive motion that includes debt, trade, reform of the international financial institutions and ecological responsibility. We should remember that in some of the poorest countries, debt service exceeds the combined health and education budget with consequent loss of life for, among others, children. If developing countries increased their share of world exports at 1999 prices by 5% it would be worth $350 billion, seven times total aid. A 1% export increase would reduce world poverty by 12%. What we do in aid, even if it is untied, and I acknowledge that, is but a portion of what an unequal world of trade and a pernicious world of debt is robbing from the developing world.
The present round of debt cancellation is an extremely welcome first step to lighten the burden on many African countries. We must ensure that issues of debt, trade and aid are taken together when considering strategies for the development of the world's poorest countries. Beyond these basic steps there are other crucial development issues.
So far the G8 and its major contributors have been silent on reform of the international financial institutions, as have we. The conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank can impede the benefits of debt relief and increased aid. Zambia is a good example — the price of debt relief there under the limited heavily indebted poor countries debt initiatives was the privatisation of the Zambian National Commercial Bank in which many small people have deposits. Under public pressure the Zambian Government withdrew from its proposal. The cost was $1 billion in debt write-offs and the Government has had to reintroduce the proposal and there will be a bid for the bank from a consortium located in South Africa.
The development debate is now very much narrower than it was when I first began speaking about it in these Houses in the 1970s. An example is the failure in recent times to address the issue of appropriate technology transfer. If models based on indigenous or appropriate technology that were labour intensive had been chosen — and many of the countries towards which these were addressed by way of assistance were 70% rural in nature — they would have had a better effect in encouraging participation and would have been preferable to forms of technology transfer at the top end which suited multinationals, donor governments and receiving elites who did not use them for the benefit of the countries involved.
Such models have been rejected at times in favour of models of capital intensive technology. If a different model of technology of transfer had been used, countries would be further along in developing food security, getting clean water and sanitation and the basic infrastructure needed for agricultural production and innovation in the production of such products as might in time make it to the export market.
The opportunity must be taken to massively increase the expenditure on education and health and use the relief of debt cancellation for such purposes. More importantly still, it must include participation, advocacy and empowerment measures. The nonsense must stop of thinking that they are not part of the development agenda, we must end this sneering undercurrent that advocacy is somehow less than other direct food relief.
As for trade, which will be a litmus test for the major global economies, we must never forget that a 1% increase in trade by developing countries would reduce poverty by 12%.
While the elimination of corruption is important and the reform of governance necessary, it is surely more positive to concentrate on strategies and opportunities for the development of civil society that will come from the social expenditure made possible by debt cancellation. The Labour Party's decision to lodge the commitment on overseas development aid in legislation is but a first step in an integrated approach such as that outlined in the motion towards tackling the issue.
I would like to dispose of the suggestion that we would not be able to spend this additional aid effectively. When Trócaire made its submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs in November 2004, it said:
In the context of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the World Bank and IMF have estimated that at least $30 billion could be absorbed by poor countries immediately, rising to over $50 billion per year in the medium term. The World Bank and IMF have found that an immediate doubling of aid could be used effectively in Ethiopia.
Another myth is that debt relief or increased aid has not been used well. In Benin, 43% of HIPC debt relief, achieved with severe conditions, went to education in 2002, allowing the recruitment of teachers for empty posts in rural areas. A total of 54% went to health, of which a fifth was used to recruit health staff for rural clinics, and the remainder was allocated to implementing HIV-AIDS and anti-malarial programmes. In Mali a monthly stipend is provided to more than 5,000 community teachers using HIPC relief. In Niger a special programme that focuses on rural education, health, food security and water systems has been fully financed through HIPC. In Malawi, HIPC resources have been used to train 3,600 new teachers a year. In Burkina Faso, 39% of HIPC relief has been spent on education, 33% on health and 28% on rural roads.
The poorest of the world need an integrated, sustained commitment across all of the issues of debt, trade and aid. We could have spent the money; they needed it. The Government's White Paper, which is being travelled around the country, must deal with all of these issues across the relevant Departments such as Foreign Affairs, Finance and Enterprise, Trade and Employment. A White Paper that descends to being an internal document in Foreign Affairs would be of limited value.
The people of Ireland, and those who support this motion, do not want to be remembered as the country that became too rich to meet its solemn commitment to the poorest of the poor in the world at the time of greatest need, when good example and leadership required that we do otherwise. We want something other than that. It is important, even now, to call on the Government to announce, as soon as possible, its commitment not just to the 0.7% target but to the changes required across the relevant Departments and international financial institutions that will give us the integrated reform the motion proposes.