H.E. President Olusegun Obasanjo
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

at the International Conference on Financing for Development 

Monterrey, Mexico 
18th-22nd March 2002


On behalf of the Nigerian delegation, let me express appreciation to President Vincente Fox and the people of Mexico for their very warm reception and generous hospitality extended to us, since our arrival.

After decades of debate, the UN Secretary-General has every reason to be pleased and proud, that at last, the Conference on Financing for Development is not only taking place, but also holding during his tenure.

I commend the UN Secretary-General and the coordinating secretariat for their efforts in the preparatory process. Also, I note with appreciation the participation of the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organisation, the civil society organisations and the private business sector, among the multi-stakeholderswho have been part of the process leading to this landmark gathering.

At the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000, the leaders of all member countries of the United Nations, including myself, agreed on a set of ambitious international development targets, which were designed to help create a better world and to halve the scourge of poverty by the year 2015. Attaining these targets of 2000 requires an enormous amount of resources, both by governments in developing countries and by the international donor community. Almost two years after the Millennium Development Goals were adopted, we detect no progress and must express our profound concern at recent studies by the World Bank which suggest that Africa in particular is unlikely to come even close to realising those goals if present trends continue.

For almost 35 years the international community had agreed to the principle that industrialised countries should devote 0.7 percent of their GNP for official development assistance (ODA). While we commend the very few countries who reached this target, the record for the majority shows decline. Today we register a deplorable 0.25 percent of GNP from the industrialised world earmarked for development purposes, with a rather inequitable distribution among countries and regions. This shockingly low performance makes the realisation of the Millennium Goals impossible. At the same time we are again witnessing a significant diversion of funds from development purposes, especially for Africa, to the financing of programmes in other parts of the world in a similar pattern as at the beginning of the 1990's following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Mr Chairman, the dismal failure of ODA is compounded by the recent sharp drop in foreign direct investment (FDI), which for some years in the 1990s was adduced as the new mechanism to bring resources and prosperity to the developing world.

What then can we then do? Where do we go from here? Is there hope for an improvement of this unacceptable situation? To answer these questions, we must begin by committing ourselves to an honest reckoning.

Mr Chairman, in a globalised world the fate of the majority of humankind can not be isolated or ignored. Ultimately, the survival and security of nations will be determined through action or inaction, effectiveness or ineffectiveness, enlightened self-interest or cold-hearted pursuit of short-term, narrow interests. Let us make no mistake: if the lessons of the past six months, since September Eleven, are to be heeded, it is that security is indivisible. Lack of security anywhere translates directly into lack of security everywhere! Conversely, security for one enhances security for all our countries and charting a way out of conflict, poverty, poor governance and marginalisation. 

NEPAD is an African-bred and African-inspired exercise, which could benefit from a variety of partnerships with actors from the North. Yet, we must guard that NEPAD is not being turned against us as a tool for new conditionality. If partners want to come on board they are welcome now, as before, but contribution must not only be limited to words and good advice.

Mr Chairman, if we cannot find sufficient partnerships and new resources to bolster and assist NEPAD, permit me to wonder why we gather for meetings such as these? On the other hand, NEPAD is being drawn up in such a way that, with or without adequate contributions from our development partners, it can be implemented to a significant extent, based on our own visions and our own programmes.

Mr Chairman, let us set aside the crafted language of the Monterrey Document and state in clear and simple terms what the developing world expects from this gathering. Among others, we expect:

One, rededication to the Millennium Declaration, and joint pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals;

two, debt relief at a substantial level for all developing countries, not only limited to the HIPC process;

three, significantly improved market access and removal of distortions, especially in agriculture, through WTO negotiations, which should not be vitiated by unilateral legislation;

four, reversal of the present decreasing trend in ODA flows_ and in particulara significant increase in ODA for Africa and the least developed countries.

five, effectiveness in the allocation of aid by the donors and the utilization by the recipients.

Mr. Chairman, I believe we can achieve more than the scope of the draft Monterrey consensus. We are capable- and we must- express and codify our collective determination and readiness to provide a critical mass of development assistance.
If we must acknowledge- as we do- that the long standing international target of 0. 7% of GNP for ODA is unattainable at the present time, let us then agree here on a realistic target for the next few years, which corresponds with our collective sense of urgency, responsibility and atonement for past failures. The Monterrey Compact could thus have three pillars:

On the part of the developing countries: there would be an undertaking to promote good governance and accountability- which in any case is in our own best interest, in order to ensure an enabling environment for economic and social development that would reduce poverty and stimulate investment;

On the part of industrialized countries: there should be commitment, individually and collectively, to a gradual increase of 0.5% of GNP for ODA. This would mean a doubling of current, woefully inadequate, levels within five years. Alternatively, those industrialized countries who do not want to be bound by such a quantitative target, may wish to commit themselves to funding, in full or partially, the activities required to attain the Millennium 

Development Goals;
A joint commitment: to negotiate by the end of 2003, a further substantial reduction in tariffs and quotas for goods and services from the developing countries- which would be the most immediate and effective mechanism to improve incomes. -

Mr Chairman, such a compact would instil true and dynamic meaning to our efforts here in Monterrey. It would create the conditions for and the means to work towards a better world with less poverty, more security for humankind, and more global justice and equity. Without such a compact, I, for my part, believe that the Consensus: Document will have no practical consequences beyond a repetition and reaffirmation of generally accepted principles, concepts and statements.

Mr Chairman, this Conference must set the tone for our mutual engagement in the future. If we succeed to engage each other on a more concrete level than general exhortations, we will have made significant progress and may have turned the tide in a more encouraging direction. If we only talk at each other, without concrete commitments and results, we will have signalled our recognition that the Millennium Development Goals will remain a dead letter. In addition, we also may have to reexamine the utility and wisdom of calling such mega-Conferences, if they consistently fail to deliver a minimum of real advance in critical areas.

I thank you all.

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