Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
International Conference on Financing for Development
18-22 March 2002
On the 3rd of March this year, the people of Switzerland decided in a referendum to join the United Nations.
My country, which already participates actively in a wide range of activities within the UN system, has thus made its commitment to the great United Nations family full and complete.
Monterrey is the first official occasion for me to announce this historic decision to the international community.
I consider it a happy coincidence that the meeting at which I make this announcement is devoted to the subject of financing and development.
For, indeed, one of Switzerland’s reasons for becoming a full UN member is to show solidarity, in particular with the least privileged countries of the world.
This conference on financing is crucial for the success of international efforts to make development sustainable.
Monterrey is thus an unavoidable stage along the road to Johannesburg.
I would first like to take this opportunity to express a heart-felt “thank you” to Mexico for the tremendous work it has undertaken in preparing this conference, and for a warm and friendly welcome.
This conference is a turning point because, for the first time, an attempt is being made to deal with the problem of development financing in a multi-dimensional way, rather than purely from the point of view of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
To ensure the success of this process, Monterrey must find ways to mobilise greater financial resources, both domestic and international.
The first step is to establish the guiding principles. This is the aim of the "Monterrey Consensus", which Switzerland fully supports.
But without deeds the most solemn
commitments are hollow. This means coming to terms with the harsh reality
of economic constraints.
The transition from commitment to action is, however, the essence of politics.
The Swiss government is determined to make an even greater commitment to improving the efficiency of development efforts and their impact, including their financing.
Through sustained effort and a specific programme, Switzerland will increase its ODA progressively to 0.4 per cent of gross national product (GNP) by 2010.
But quantity must go hand in hand
At the same time as we increase the volume,
we also want to make our ODA more efficient and more effective, notably:
· by giving more support to the strategy of our partners and
· by ensuring suitable co-ordination with other donors.
With regard to financing, it is important that the terms and conditions for support be clear, and that they are respected.
In our view, the way in which responsibilities
are currently assigned should be maintained:
· the United Nations Funds and Programmes should continue to allocate their resources in the form of donations
· the international financing institutions such as the International Development Association and the regional development funds should provide loans, as at present.
Switzerland is satisfied with this
way of doing things, because it offers the following two advantages:
· it takes into account the different nature and role of each institution
· above all, it preserves the ability of the international financing institutions to ensure their own funding.
This debate should not however be allowed to delay the efforts of the international community to provide debt relief to the poorest countries, both at the bilateral level and within the framework of multilateral initiatives.
Closely involved right from the start, Switzerland will continue to play an active role.
Trade is another source of financing.
Switzerland remains committed to the implementation of fair international trade agreements.
We must strengthen the measures designed to accompany the process that leads to membership of the World Trade Organisation, and, in particular, support the efforts of the least developed countries (LDCs) to become full members.
In this context we are pleased to launch negotiations here in Monterrey aimed at transforming the Agency for International Trade Information and Co-operation into an intergovernmental organisation.
In the same spirit we wish to collaborate with our partners to build up a healthy and efficient financial sector, in particular with a view to strengthening the systems of regulation and supervision.
Co-operation between state authorities and private-sector operators is another avenue for us to explore. Switzerland can help to promote the necessary dialogue with the assistance of some very valuable partners, such as the World Economic Forum.
We are also aiming to use development aid to promote balanced and constructive partnerships between the public and private sectors.
Institutional dialogue, which has strengthened during the Monterrey process, is an integral part of these efforts. We need to increase the number of meetings between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions, as well as with other key players such as the World Trade Organisation.
The Swiss government is determined
to contribute and to make proposals to this end.