Mr. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark
26 June 2000
We can do better
In the midst of these challenges we have the ultimate goal - to create a better, more peaceful, more prosperous daily life for people all over the world.
Have we ensured that this goal was never lost? I am afraid the answer is `No'. I am afraid that we - as governments - did not achieve what we set out to achieve. We did not fully live up to our commitment - neither individually or collectively.
We - governments and citizens of the world - have the responsibility of making the right choices. We have to ensure a better future for this generation and future generations. It is vital that all parties concerned stand by their commitments from 1995. Vital that appropriate actions be taken to reverse the continued marginalization of major parts of the world's population. Vital to eradicate poverty. It can not be said too often - it can not be said too loud.
It is a fact that peace, stability, the rule of law and social solidarity are fundamental conditions for sustainable economic growth and social development. There are choices to be made. Difficult, painful choices.
If our promises to combat poverty were sincere, we have to ask ourselves:
- Why conflicts in Africa are not solved in a peaceful manner?
We know that sustainable development and social progress can only be achieved by countries themselves. But we also know that countries need assistance in their fight for development. That assistance we - the rich part of the World - have an obligation to submit.
In Copenhagen we promised to do more. And we could have done so. All the more since the developed world has experienced an unprecedented economic boom during those 5 years. Let me mention the impressive effect we have seen of the increased welfare in parts of Asia.
We - the rich part of the world - have to take our part of the common global responsibility. We have to take our part of the responsibility for the shared vision, which we formulated in Copenhagen in 1995.
We have to work towards a favourable integration of the developing countries into the world trading system. We have to ease the debt burdens of poor countries more than we already have done. We have to live up to our commitments for providing official development assistance. We need to ensure access to affordable health care and education for all. And we need to ensure that developing countries get their share of the Information Technology in order to avoid a further widening of the digital divide.
We do not want a world divided into A and B teams - into first and second division.
I have been quite explicit for the sake of clarity. You may ask: What about Denmark? Well - we have made our choices. We do stand by our commitment to a fair international trading system. We also stand by our continued commitment to maintain a level of I per cent of GNP in official development assistance. We have chosen social security - human security. But also my country - like all countries - can do better. And we all need better global and regional co-operation.
Globalisation presents us with enormous challenges and opportunities. The intensity of international co-operation requires solidarity and a strong, well functioning multilateral system where the United Nations holds a prominent role.
The struggle for a safer and better world is taking place in the midst of a technological revolution of enormous magnitude. As proclaimed by the Social Summit, to eliminate poverty on earth and to let everybody enjoy social development appear to be within reach.
But one thing is for sure: By themselves, the global forces leading to economic expansion and better standards of living are not sufficient to create a harmonious world community. Their contribution to the improvement of human conditions will remain limited to a few - individuals, social classes and countries - unless controlled and directed to the benefit of all by appropriate public authorities and institutions.
5 years ago we made important promises to promote social progress and development - "The Copenhagen Consensus".
We have not fulfilled the objectives we set out for ourselves. It is fundamentally a question of political will and decisiveness. Making consequent decisions based on clear knowledge and experience. Making the right choices is not easy. But together we can make them. Make a difference.
Once again we are assembled under the aegis of the United Nations. Let us - at this follow-up Summit - recommit ourselves to the goals of Copenhagen. Let us intensify our efforts to implement these goals. Together we have the capacity. Let us show we also have the determination.
The poor - women, men and children - all over the world await us. We owe it to this generation and to future generations to make a difference. We still have an obligation to provide social leadership and direction.
It is vital that all parties concerned stand by their commitments and that appropriate action be taken to reverse a continued marginalisation of major parts of the world population and to eradicate poverty. Let us commit ourselves to do better at this follow-up Summit.
Let concrete actions follow words! Thank you.