Monday, September 24, 2012

Heat 2

The Arab world "did not set out to trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told global heads of state, philanthropists, CEOs and celebrities attending Day 2 of this year's Clinton Global Initiative. In a 30-minute speech, Clinton offered a clear rebuke to Muslim extremists behind the September 11th attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi that killed U.S. Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and his colleagues Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith. 

"Human dignity doesn't come from avenging insults, especially with violence that can never be justified," Clinton said, referring to the anti-Muslim video that has sparked recent riots around the world, including the one that preceded the attack in Benghazi. "...Countries focused more on fostering growth than fomenting grievances are racing ahead, building schools instead of burning them; investing in their peoples' 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," Clinton said.

Many leaders from around the world — including the foreign minister of Tunisia, where the Arab Spring originated — have expressed their stance against violence in the wake of the attacks, she told CGI delegates. "All of us need to stand together to resist these forces of violence and oppression to support democratic transitions underway across Africa and around the world. Unity on this throughout the international community is crucial because extremists around the world are working hard to drive us apart."

Clinton also spoke broadly about global development and her agency's work to overhaul the U.S. foreign aid system, saying that "we need to move from development aid to investments." She took dead aim at what she called "the elites in every country" who, Clinton said, do not pay their fair share of taxes to support government investment in their local communities. "I'm out of American politics," she said, "but 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 do not invest in public schools and public hospitals and other kinds of development internally." She called on government and advocacy leaders around the world "to start telling powerful people things they don't want to hear" about the need to create transparency in governmental budgets and revenues, to work toward political reforms, to bring corruption to light, and create fair taxation models that mobilize resources and establish regulations designed to attract and protect investment.

"There are rich people everywhere, and yet they do not contribute to the growth of their own countries." - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at CGI2012

"My goal is to put us out of the aid business," Clinton said, and to expand strategic aid partnerships beyond NGOs, to include businesses, other governments and innovative nonprofits and social entrepreneurs. As an example of this new collaboration, Clinton cited the development of Haiti's first business development park and a recent shipment of sewing machines to that country that is creating thousands of jobs there for women who had not worked previously. "You cannot have development in today's world without partnering with the private sector," Clinton said. She further cited a program in Sierra Leone in which more than 1,700 women serve as health monitors, checking up on clinics and reporting problems to the government so they can be resolved.

Clinton said her agency will continue working to encourage developing countries to pay for more of their own development, and to create impact measurements to ensure greater accountability and efficiency for their efforts to improve conditions on the ground.  "I hear from leaders all over the world that ultimately, it must be their responsibility to provide economic opportunity, health care, and good schools to their people. They don't want to turn to other nations forever for assistance. I look forward to the day when our assistance is no longer needed," Clinton said.

In other Day 2 highlights:

* In a panel moderated by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, participants discussed the need to give women around the world the rights to more land so that more buildings and initiatives needed to help them rise out of poverty can —literally—get off the ground. "Only 1 percent of the land titles on earth is owned by women," said Joan Clos, the Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, "and only about 18 to 20 percent of the land on Earth is titled. People want to build but there is no way to register the land, or to use much of it, he said. "There are ancestral ways to register the land that does not end up in the legal system and we need to create institutions for proper land registration that gives more access to women and to everyone," he said. Jonathan Reckford, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, said that in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, Habitat built 10,000 homes on the southeast Indian coast and titled all of them in women's names, then worked with local government to change local landholding policy, which has had the effect of involving women in local policy decisions that previously did not include their input. "Worldwide, currently, only 1-2 percent of titled land is in the hands of women," Kristof said. "This needs to change."

* Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, hosted a panel of three social innovators who have used the power of partnerships to make change around the world — Yemeni journalist Tawakkol Karman, co-founder of Women Journalists Without Chains and a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, who is using new media to document human rights violations; Paul Farmer, chair of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard and Founding Director of Partners in Health, and Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. Karman said her group's goal for Yemen is to "build our countries up from what revolution has destroyed" to include sustainable development and the rule of law, so as to keep new dictators from taking charge. "We have to work with each other, with the international community, to help people in the Arab region, as there is no peace without development and no development without peace." Farmer, whose public health work in Haiti was profiled in the 2003 book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, acknowledged that the last two post-earthquake years in Haiti "have been difficult; Haitians tend to be resistant to change." But Farmer urged tenacity and improved outputs within the development community. "We need to stick with it for some decades to come" but change the way aid advocates engage in Haiti and involve more Haitians in rebuilding for themsleves.  

CGI continues through Tuesday. Watch this space for updates.

—Marcia Stepanek

[Photograph of a segment of the Berlin Wall by Knud Nielsen for]

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