Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to participate today in theWorld Economic Forum here in Amman. And I appreciate the opportunity to make a few opening remarks on the issue of Donor Apathy.
Let me from the outset establish my point of departure: Economic development is man-made. It comes, when sound policies encourage creative forces in society. And it thrives with trade and a free flow of goods and ideas. This being said, there is no doubt that development aid can play a positive role as a catalyst to address socio-economic challenges and promote social cohesion.
This leads me to the question: why and when donors do engage? I believe there are a couple of reasons. The main one being that in a globalized world challenges are interconnected and call for a joint response. Another motivating factor is people’s sense of solidarity and moral obligation to help those who are in distress.
Which factors then may erode this willingness? First of all, donor assistance must reach the proper beneficiaries and must make a real difference to the lives of people who receive it. There can be many obstacles to this: political unrest, lack of physical protection, socio-economic and cultural barriers, heavy bureaucracies, administrative inefficiency and corruption. The continued support by the general public of the donor country is hampered by every disclosure of misuse of funds.
Secondly, the results of the assistance must be tangible. In this context, the willingness and ability of the recipient countries to undertake political and economic reform is central. Without the willingness to reform, development assistance will not have the desired effect. All countries need to review their systems, rules and regulations from time to time to perform well in a modernised and globalized world. This also include respect for the rule of law and freedom of expression.
The UNDP Arab Human Development Reports have pointed out that the Middle East region is lacking behind in the globalization race, due to lack of effective reforms in the area of fundamental freedoms, good governance, access to information and the full inclusion of women in society. Comprehensive reforms in these particular areas – says the reports - are a prerequisite for sustainable development.
A key challenge therefore is to help bring about these preconditions. And that is in particular relevant for the Palestinian Authority and for Iraq.
Through the various EU programs and from EU member states 650 million Euro was provided to the Palestinian people in 2006. During this time where the dangers of donor fatigue for obvious reasons were at its highest, Denmark even increased our support to the Palestinians. Despite all the political difficulties we have maintained our commitment to assist the Palestinian people. Our assistance focuses on improving concrete living conditions for the ordinary Palestinian and facilitating more interaction with the outside world.
The same goes for Iraq. The process of transition in Iraq from Saddam Hussein to a democratic state must succeed. The International Compact agreed on May third in Sharm El Sheikh is aimed at facilitating this transition through a mutual commitment between the international community and the Iraqi Government. Denmark has announced a significant increase in the Danish support to reconstruction and humanitarian activities in Iraq.
In addition, Denmark is pursuing initiatives in the Middle East including in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Yemen under our Danish-Arab Partnership Programme.
For the region to take its rightful place in the world strategic investments are needed in all countries in the region in education and development, with particular focus on women and girls.
To illustrate my point let me mention, that the day before yesterday I had the pleasure to visit a girls school in Kabul where until recently girls were not allowed in school. Standing before the 5th grade girls and listening to their hopes, aspirations and ambitions was a most encouraging experience. They had confidence in the future. So should we.