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David Cameron: Speech to the Rwandan Parliament

Speaking in the Rwandan parliament, Conservative Party Leader David Cameron said:

"It is a great honour for me to address the Parliament of Rwanda.

Today my Party publishes the report of our Policy Group on Global Poverty.

And it is fitting for me to mark that occasion here, in a country which so powerfully represents both the tragedy of Africa's past and the hope for its future.

Here we see depravity defeated, barbarity vanquished, a society once riven by grievances today brought together by a shared desire to live together, through education, diligence, hard work and trade.

You have rebuilt this land and you are rebuilding hope, as one of Africa's brightest good news stories.

Economic growth consistently above 6 per cent.

Rising agricultural output and productivity now taking many more of the poorest people out of deep poverty.

The largest solar energy plant in Africa.

And in this Parliament, I am greatly impressed by the number of you who are women…

…a better record on gender equality than the British House of Commons, the US Senate, the European Parliament or the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

Of course, we are all aware of the hard work that lies ahead.

Bringing electricity to people's homes.

Helping those 100,000 households headed by children.

And vitally, putting in place the foundations for future prosperity.

These are not challenges you face on your own.

And that is why I am here today.


There are some people in Britain who told me not to come.

They said I should stay at home and worry about domestic concerns.

Well let me tell them - and let me tell you - that in the twenty-first century, a century of global trade, global migration, and yes, global terrorism…

…there is no "domestic" and "foreign" any more.

In this world today, we are all in it together.

The rich cannot escape the consequences of poverty and instability.

What happens in one place affects many others.

Gas from a factory in Beijing can contribute to floods in Britain.

Civil war in Somalia can bring thousands of migrants to Stockholm.

A cartoon in Denmark can create riots in Damascus.

Right now we're seeing climate change bring floods in Britain while at the same time depleting water for your hydro-electric programme here.

Our futures are linked as never before.

As President Clinton said, "If you want this world without walls to be a good home for your children we'll have to make it a home for all the world's children."

If the 19th century was the era of global imperialism…

…and the 20th century the era of global ideological struggle…

…then I believe that this, the 21st century, must be the era of global co-operation…

…in which we build a bridge between rich and poor, a bridge between north and south, a bridge between this continent and the rest of the world.

And as we do so to banish forever the cruel injustice of global poverty.

To those who doubt this can be done - I say that in an age where we can build whole cities in months and decode the very essence of life, the human genome…

…then the real question is to ask: why on earth has it not been done already?

We can do it and we must do it - together.

Unless we help each other to succeed, we will deserve to fail.


I am proud too that in the last few weeks my Party has been helping - with deeds not just words - to join in the work you are doing to build your country.

Forty three members of our Party.

Eight Members of Parliament.

Applying their skills - from medicine to sport - in twenty projects around Rwanda.

I don't pretend that it is more than a modest contribution.

But it matters a great deal to me, because it represents my deepest political conviction.

I believe in social responsibility: the idea that each of us should be participants in social change, not just bystanders.

Personal responsibility and personal commitment are, for me, the foundations of real and lasting political commitment.


Britain's commitment to Rwanda is strong.

We are your largest donor - with up to £500 million pledged over the next ten years.

That is one reason why it's so important for British politicians to come here.

I want to show the British people why they invest in this incredible African success story, and what this investment has achieved.

But our commitment goes far beyond money.

I'm delighted that President Kagame would like Rwanda to join the Commonwealth.

And I can assure you that, if Rwanda decides to apply for membership and meets the required criteria, it will have the wholehearted support of my Party and any government I lead.


Our commitment to this country…

…and to the many other countries in Africa and beyond that are battling to eliminate degrading poverty from people's lives…

…is strengthened by the fact that there is, I believe, a new political consensus on global poverty today.

Poverty makes no sense.

No economic sense, no political sense, no moral sense.

And we see a consensus not just on the importance of the fight against global poverty.

But on the weapons we must use.

Traditionally, the political right has emphasised trade, enterprise and good governance…

…while the political left preferred to talk about aid and autonomy.

Some on the right seemed to assume that all aid ends up wasted or stolen; or that at best it stands in the way of development by entrenching the "wrong" policies…

…while some on the left seemed to deny that free markets could do any good at all; or would worry that advocating the "right" policies would cause offence.

We have thankfully moved beyond these ideological distortions.

There is political consensus today that the intelligent use of aid can do a huge amount of good.

And there is political consensus that trade is essential - but must be fair.

Let us not, however, allow consensus on the importance of fighting poverty…

…or consensus on the methods we must use…

…prevent a strong and robust political argument about the way forward.

Because the battle against global poverty has not been won.

It has not even nearly been won.

We still have a massive fight on our hands to bring about change that matches the scale of the challenge.

Indeed the fight must now become an all-out attack.

Warm words from rich countries won't feed hungry children in Africa.

Fine declarations at lavish conferences won't build roads.

The chronic injustice of poverty and desperation in a world of plenty can only be banished by concerted and practical action.

Action that does good, not just words that make rich countries feel good.

So yes, there may be a consensus about fighting poverty.

But no, this should not hold us back from saying what needs to be said.

Our policy report, published today, sets out step by step how we can mount an all-out attack on global poverty.

How we can accelerate the process of economic development.

How we can use aid more effectively as a tool for that purpose.

And above all, how we can once and for all make free and fair trade a reality.


Rich countries need to get real about trade.

People hear politicians talking about trade as the key to long term prosperity.

And then they see the reality of our global trading system today: still designed to protect the rich instead of helping the poor.

One of the main reasons why the poor stay poor is because they are being denied the opportunity to trade with the rich.

The World Bank has said that "current trade restrictions are the biggest impediment to poverty reduction in the developing world."

It is a scandal that the Doha Round is still limping from one set of talks to another without any effective resolution.

In the long run, we must restart Doha and reach a comprehensive agreement that will ensure full access to developed markets for poorer countries.

But we can't wait for that.

We need action now to open up markets and remove barriers that put poor countries at such an unfair disadvantage.

So I welcome the proposal from our Policy Group for the EU and other rich countries to unilaterally drop their trade barriers for poorer countries by 2013 at the latest.

The demand is simple: get rid of all the barriers that stop poorer nations from trading fairly, and open markets to goods from the developing world.

Forget the endless tortuous negotiations about getting something in return.

Just do it.

We can afford it, Africa needs it, and we'll all benefit from it.

At the suggestion of our Policy Group, a new campaign, Real Trade, is being launched today to put pressure on politicians in all developed countries to drop their trade barriers, unilaterally, right now.

I hope this campaign combines the energy and excitement of Make Poverty History with the moral force of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

I hope it reaches into the churches, the trade unions, the schools and every corner of society in every rich nation…

…and mobilises millions to knock on the doors and bang on the walls of those with the power to make change happen.

The current trade rules are unfair.

They are damaging.

They are immoral.

It's time for real change - for Real Trade.


We must also change our approach to aid.

We need aid - but we need it to work much harder to promote economic development.

The United Nations has set a target for rich nations to spend 0.7 per cent of their national income on aid by 2013.

We are committed to that goal, and believe that we should try to get there faster if possible.

But we must do more to make sure that the money is spent effectively.


That is not about imposing the kind of conditionality we've seen in the past.

Conditionality too often meant donors attaching self-interested demands to aid.

"You can have our money but only if you use it to buy our goods."

"We'll pay for an infrastructure project but it must be built by our companies."

In 2000 Britain stopped tying aid to the use of contractors from the UK.

But some other governments still use aid as a tool for subsidising their domestic industries.

That kind of top-down, 'we know best' approach must end.

It's wrong and ineffective to attach detailed conditions to loans in an attempt to micromanage every aspect of the recipient's economy.

That's why I welcome our policy report's proposal to replace conditionality with transparency.

Sound financial management and transparent reporting are the cornerstones of effective aid.

That's why our Policy Group recommends telling the public how, when and where the money's being spent, so they can hold their politicians to account.

Institutions like schools and hospitals should be publicly notified of their budget entitlements, and these should be published locally and on the internet.

Let me give you one example which shows the difference this can make.

In Uganda, a study of spending allocated to schools found that in 1995, less than 20 per cent of the money was actually getting from the central budget to the schools themselves.

Thanks to a new public notification system and press coverage, this rose to 80-90 per cent.

People will police the aid themselves if they have the information to do it.

Many of those who oppose spending on aid say that it's swallowed up in corruption and doesn't reach the people who really need it.

But corruption shouldn't be used as an excuse to stop aid.

Instead we should use aid as a way to stop corruption.

In this way, far from being a short-term sticking plaster, aid can become a powerful engine for political as well as economic development.


Of course, transparency is not a one-way street.

Donors who ask for transparency should practise what they preach.

We should open our books for inspection and admit when we are engaging in protectionism and tied aid.

Our policy report proposes a global donor index, overseen by a group of eminent people, to provide an objective measure of how every rich country performs on set criteria:

…meeting UN obligations…

…the arrival of promised payments…

…attachment of unrealistic conditions…

…and attempts to micromanage.

As my colleague Andrew Mitchell has discovered during his week in the Ministry of Finance here in Kigali, failure to get this right can cause real burdens for the developing world.

If transparency is good enough for you, it should be good enough for us.


And we should do more to make it easier for you to deal with the aid process.

Poor countries should not have to juggle relationships with dozens of different donors.

To save time and prevent bureaucratic duplication, our report recommends the establishment of Partnership Trusts, in which all willing donors pool their resources and appoint representatives to deal directly with the recipient country.

This would also enable greater specialisation.

Over and above the money they contribute, different countries can offer different skills and expertise.

Within the Partnership Trust, different donors may take the lead on whichever area they have special expertise in.


But it should all be in pursuit of the same shared goal: to help countries like this move from economic dependency to economic empowerment.

That means action on two fronts.

Removing the barriers that stand in the way of economic development.

And putting in place the conditions that enable economic development to take place.


Crippling debt is one of the greatest barriers to progress that poor countries face.

The world has made huge strides in recent years but we need to go further.

And, to prevent chronic debt occurring again, future aid for social programmes should generally take the form of grants not loans.


Similarly, it's no use expecting developing countries to make great strides towards prosperity if millions of people are still suffering from killer diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB.

Anti-disease projects are among the most effective of all aid interventions.

Not only do they relieve suffering but they increase economic growth.

It has been estimated that malaria, as well as killing a child every thirty seconds, slows economic growth in Africa by up to 1.3 per cent each year.

On disease, just as on debt relief, we must acknowledge that real progress has been made.

HIV/AIDS treatment is now being given to 1.3 million Africans.

But there is more to do, which is why my Party has pledged that in government we will give $1 billion a year to the fight against malaria.

And it is why I am so supportive of one further measure proposed in our policy report that will help improve the health of poorer nations.

Rich countries should stop luring away the brightest and best medical staff to work in our hospitals.

It is immoral to wave large salary cheques in the faces of the very people whose skills are so desperately needed here in Africa.


Morality and practicality come together too in the issue of conflict resolution.

The people of Rwanda know this better than anyone.

Yesterday, I saw for myself the harrowing power of your genocide memorial.

I believe that anyone who aspires to political leadership anywhere in the world should come and see that monument.

That was in 1994 but it is still happening elsewhere.

We see great suffering in Zimbabwe.

And tragically, the suffering of Rwanda is now being repeated in Darfur.

I went to Darfur eight months ago.

Today, the killing continues, and the international community wrestles with the question of when it is right to intervene.

There are no easy answers but there are certain things that can be done.

We need to stop debating, and focus on practical actions that would make a real difference.

Here in Africa, we should build up the capacity of the African Union to provide military support to countries where instability threatens to turn into bloodshed.

Your country and your President have led the way, and when I went to Darfur I met some of your fine soldiers outside Al-Fasher.

The international community must develop a greater preparedness for quick responses to crises.

The reform of the UN that is currently in process should be speeded up.

We need an International Arms Trade Treaty to bring the arms trade fully under control.

And one of the proposals in our policy report is for the creation of a permanent roster of highly experienced Special Envoys who would be on standby to fly to conflict zones.

So: tackling debt, preventing killer disease, resolving conflicts...

All these are essential, not least because they remove barriers to economic development.


But the attack on global poverty is not just about removing barriers.

It is about positively putting in place the conditions that lead to progress and prosperity.

We know enough about the causes of wealth creation to be clear today about what those conditions are.

Hernando de Soto has shown us the vital importance of property rights and the rule of law, enabling people to create wealth through their enterprise and ingenuity…

…and helping to accelerate the benefits of microfinance lending which is already making such a difference in many developing countries.

Rich nations can encourage this process by giving practical advice on legal systems and offering loan guarantees to help local banks to lower the risk of lending.

Amartya Sen has shown us that democratic countries with human rights and a free press are less prone to suffer from major famines.

Closed societies, where leaders are insulated from scrutiny, feedback and criticism, eventually spiral out of control.

So we need to help build more open societies, based on human rights, a free press, the rule of law and a strong civil society: the institutional infrastructure that leads to genuine social and economic progress.

We must build too the physical infrastructure that has such an important part to play, like roads, energy and telecommunications.

Landlocked countries like Rwanda need highways to get goods to the coast.

This was brought home to me yesterday when I met one of your leading textile manufacturers who explained to me that it takes six days to get goods to Mombasa…

…and that's without any bureaucratic delays.

But these roads must be properly constructed and properly maintained.

Our policy report proposes that companies providing new roads and other infrastructure resources should sign build, operate and maintain contracts wherever appropriate, to ensure accountability for the quality of construction…

…and, crucially, to ensure that they train local young people on the job in construction and maintenance skills.

It is impossible for a country to grow economically without a skilled workforce.

And it is hard to develop the skills a country needs if talented people cannot afford to stay in education.

That is why our policy report recommends the establishment of funds for higher education bursaries available to secondary school students who achieve the best grades.

The world is changing fast, and so is Africa.

The mobile phone is transforming economic and social relationships.

China is a new force in this land.

We have a greater understanding than ever before of the vital connection between economic progress and environmental sustainability…

…that they must be allies, not enemies, in the fight against poverty.

My time in your country has given me greater respect for the past, and greater hope for the future.

I am most grateful to you all for your hospitality, and I hope that we can debate and discuss the ideas set out in the report we publish today.

Those ideas are simple but profound.

That aid without trade leads to dependency.

But that trade without aid leads to inequality.

The belief that aid and trade without transparency and good governance simply leads to corruption and waste.

And the confidence that if we pull all these ideas together we can weave a golden thread.

I am an optimist, despite the difficulties we face.

Ladies and gentlemen, you do me a huge honour in inviting me to address the Parliament of this wonderful African success story.

I stand proudly at the heart of this glorious continent in full knowledge that some few years hence, Africa will take its rightful place alongside its wealthier continental neighbours as a full and equal member of the economic world…

…its peoples healthy and thriving; its countries stable and prosperous; its creativity and dynamism set free for the good of us all.

So let us now firmly commit ourselves to this great and inevitable future by renewing afresh not just the fight against poverty, but the attack on the political and economic injustice that allows it to exist."

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