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Speech by Chancellor Angela Merkel to the United Nations General Assembly

Angela Merkel
Tuesday, 21. September 2010
New York

in New York

Mr President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2000 has lent international development policy a whole new foundation and legitimation in terms of quality. That was a ground-breaking strategic decision which placed the global development partnership on one common basis. This decision showed that we can only successfully fight poverty, disease and hunger worldwide through a new partnership between donor and recipient countries and a clear definition of targets.

Based on universal principles and imbued with the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Millennium Declaration is the framework for shaping globalization equitably. It sets out four areas in which action must be taken: peace and security, poverty reduction, protection of the environment, as well as promotion of human rights, democracy and good governance. The Millennium Development Goals delineate these areas in concrete terms and thus represent the international frame of reference for our development policy. The German Government also bases its development policy on these principles, thus strengthening the collective efforts of us all.


Sustainable progress on development requires that we tackle all four challenges together, for they are mutually dependent. I’m firmly convinced, therefore, that the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals must not be interpreted as a kind of menu from which we can choose what we like best. For we know – and this applies throughout the world – that there is no development without security and no security without development. Development policy measures cannot be effective without security, and in turn peacekeeping efforts will lead nowhere if there are no development prospects. This shows how right former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was when he said that development policy was an investment in a secure future.

Moreover, sustainable development as well as economic and social progress are unthinkable without good governance and respect for human rights. But let’s be honest: this sounds simple in theory, but it’s always more difficult to translate into practical consequences. Ten years ago, the international community adopted the right goals. Unfortunately, today we have to admit that we probably won’t achieve all the Millennium Goals by 2015. However, I’m firmly convinced that these goals remain valid and must be rigorously implemented. I believe that this should be the central message of this summit ten years after the adoption of the Millennium Declaration.


Noticeable progress has been made on certain individual Millennium Goals. For example, some progress has been made on basic education, gender equality and also on combating hunger and poverty. However, hunger and malnutrition still persist at an unacceptably high level. Even if 100 million fewer people suffered hunger last year, the figure of more than 900 million people around the world who face hunger and poverty is not acceptable. All in all, we see considerably differences, both in the achievement of individual goals and at regional level. Particularly in parts of sub-Saharan , there are still huge problems. The global economic and financial crisis made the prospects even bleaker for these vulnerable regions.


This raises the question: what can, indeed what must we do to make greater and more rapid progress? There’s no doubt in my mind that we have to further improve the effectiveness of development policy instruments. For me, the solution is obvious. We need to focus more on results. In this regard, I believe results-based financing is a promising approach. I’ve talked about this very often with many partners on the sidelines of this event and the reaction has been very positive. It’s obvious that a clear focus on results can be combined with greater leeway for national policies. That would make it easier to take into account the unique features of the country in question.

There is one thing we all have to accept: primary responsibility for development lies first and foremost with the governments of developing countries. It’s in their hands whether aid can be effective. Therefore, support for good governance is just as important as aid itself. Today’s emerging economies show that development policy can ultimately only be successful if there is national ownership and national implementation. This also applies to mobilizing the necessary resources. ODA funding can, with the exception of emergency situations, only be a contribution to national resources, never a substitute for them. Nor can development aid continue indefinitely.

The task is therefore to use limited resources as effectively as possible. This can only work through good governance which taps that country’s economic potential. The countries themselves must promote the development of a market economy, the setting up and expansion of SMEs and the strengthening of rural areas. There are many good projects which give us hope for the future. Without self-sustaining economic growth, developing countries will find the road out of poverty and hunger too steep to travel. Without sustainable economic growth, the Millennium Development Goals cannot be achieved; indeed not even the current level of progress can be maintained.

This is why Germany sees its role in development cooperation as a responsible supporter of countries’ own efforts within a broad-based partnership. We in Germany know where our strengths lie, but we also know our limits. It’s obvious that global problems call for global efforts. One successful example is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a multilateral instrument which has proven itself. The help provided by the Fund reaches people directly. Germany is the third-largest donor and I will work to ensure that Germany continues to support the Fund and the efforts to enhance global health at a high level.

The implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals depend on effective international organizations. That effectiveness is what people all over the world use as a yardstick for the United Nations, the forum in which were are speaking today. It’s up to us, the Member States, to make the UN fit for the challenges of the 21st century. For that reason, Germany will continue to work resolutely for UN reform.

Due to its universality and the resulting legitimacy, for us the UN is the central forum for international cooperation. Germany is the third largest financial contributor to the UN budget. We are also the third largest donor of development aid. Even during the financial crisis, we didn’t cut our aid budget. We continue to strive to meet the target of 0.7 percent of GDP for development aid. We see ourselves as a reliable partner to the UN, convinced that understanding among nations can only succeed if cooperation is based on equality and equal rights for all countries.

With this in mind, let me reaffirm Germany ’s commitment and responsibility as part of the collective responsibility of the international community.

Thank you very much.

Tuesday, 21. September 2010

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