About the Author: Brian H. Hook serves as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Affairs.
I’m making my first visit to Doha as part of the U.S. delegation to the UN International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Monterrey Consensus. In attendance are heads of state, ministers of finance, and hundreds of delegates from across the globe. The purpose of the meeting is to review implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and reaffirm our commitment to its underlying principles.
Our delegation is headed by Director of Foreign Assistance Henrietta Fore, and includes representatives from the State Department, USAID, Treasury, USTR, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The breadth of our delegation symbolizes what the Monterrey Consensus was all about – rejecting the old top-down, statist approach to development assistance and replacing it with a dramatically altered paradigm that required meaningful action of all parties.
For developing countries, that meant strengthening the rule of law, improving governance, and fostering welcoming business, trade, and investment climates. For developed countries, it meant supporting the efforts described above, in addition to increasing foreign investment and development assistance as well as supporting efforts to decrease debt burdens on developing nations.
I’m pleased to report that the U.S. has fulfilled the commitments it made in Monterrey in 2002, where President Bush pledged to increase U.S. development assistance by 50% by 2006. We reached that goal three years early and, in fact, more than doubled assistance in that time period. But we’ve done much, much more than simply increase development assistance.
In the last few years we have invested billions of dollars to assist developing countries to improve their investment climates, trade capacity, and governance structures. We have created groundbreaking trade preferences with Africa and other developing regions of the world. We have actively and successfully encouraged increased U.S. foreign investment in developing countries. And we have been a leading proponent of debt relief.
I’ll be summarizing the conference conclusions in the next few days, but I’ll end here by noting that international gatherings of this kind sometimes make for odd sightings. Yesterday, for example, Robert Mugabe made an ironic appearance to boast of his country’s development achievements (Zimbabwe is the only African country to have negative economic growth over the last decade). If there is a better case study in governance and development principles antithetical to the Monterrey Consensus, I’ve not seen it.
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