Briefing by Senior Officials on Millennium Development Goals, President's New Development Policy, and Administration's Commitment to Open Government and Civil Society at the New York Foreign Press Center

Thursday, September 23, 2010
Subject 
Commitment to Open Government and Civil Society at the New York Foreign Press Center

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining us today. Thanks for waiting for a few minutes. We’d like to thank the Foreign Press Center and the U.S. Mission to the UN for hosting us this afternoon. We have a very interesting briefing for you today, and we have five distinguished U.S. officials to discuss with you the U.S. approach to the Millennium Development Goals, the President’s new policy on development, and the speech that he just gave earlier today before the UN General Assembly.

With us, we have USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah; we have Michael Froman, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs; we have Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for International Development at the White House; and Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, the Director of Policy Planning at the State Department.

So without further ado, I’ll turn things over to –

PARTICIPANT: And Samantha.

MODERATOR: And Samantha Power, I apologize – Samantha Power, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs, who will be speaking on the President’s speech before the GA today, and specifically his discussion of open societies, open government, and open economies.

And without further ado now, I’ll turn it over to Dr. Shah. Thank you.

ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Thank you. Thank you. Yesterday, the President gave a really groundbreaking and detailed speech on development policy that unveiled the Administration’s new approach to development. This new approach is a comprehensive policy that begins by reaffirming that development is a core strategic part of our national interest, and that by affirming that, we will continue to meet our commitments to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. A year ago, the President pledged to present a plan to do so, and this policy represents our efforts to get there. The focus of the policy is that we will be doing things very differently in our development work going forward.

First, we’ll focus on results and real outcomes as opposed to the process indicators that – or the way we spend resources that are often the measures of our commitment to and achievements in development.

Second, we’ll be much more selective about putting resources where we think we can drive the most important and the most effective outcomes, and being hardheaded about using U.S. taxpayer dollars carefully in our investments.

Third, we’ll be enhancing science, technology, and innovation as major components of our investments.

And fourth, we will be reaffirming an approach that really prioritizes economic growth as the most powerful force for development and evolution of country economies.

The President also talked about an important concept of mutual accountability, that we want to work primarily with countries that take on the responsibility of driving growth and development and improvements in health and education and the human condition, and that we understand that that is both the responsibility of countries to own that goal and it’s the responsibility of donors and partners like the United States to look very carefully at how we do our work and make the kinds of reforms and changes that allow us to live up to our financial commitments and allow us to bring the broad range of our trade and investment policies to bear on the – on achieving the objective of development.

So I’m very excited on behalf of USAID and the whole Administration because it really is a comprehensive and empowering roadmap for the future and one that is geared towards helping us make the kinds of changes in development we fundamentally need to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

I think Mike Froman will talk about the policy in a bit more detail. Thank you.

MR. FROMAN: Thanks, Raj, and let me just add a couple comments to what Dr. Shah has said. Two of the themes that the President emphasized – one was on sustainability, that, while the U.S. will continue to provide emergency food assistance and medicines as necessary and as we’ve done a great deal over the last several decades, we also want to increase our investment in health systems or in agricultural productivity so that these sorts of gains can be sustainable and that countries can provide for themselves going forward.

But the ultimate goal, as Dr. Shah said, with economic growth, is for countries to ultimately get to a point where they’re not dependent on assistance and where they can graduate and leave assistance behind. And that’s very important. This was not an assistance strategy that the President laid out. It wasn’t a foreign aid strategy. It was a development strategy. And while money is critically important to development, equally important are the other policy tools that we have available, and equally important in the target countries are issues like governance that Samantha Power and others will talk about in terms of making those aid dollars maximally effective.

Let me just say that the speech and the presidential policy directive that the President also signed yesterday, a description of which was issued yesterday, talks about the importance of multilateral institutions and investing through multilateral institutions with leveraging capabilities there, and also building up our own bilateral institutions, such as USAID that Dr. Shah runs, and investing in the capacity there to be the premier development agency in the world again. v Let me turn it over just to Gayle Smith, who ran the interagency process to produce this policy.

MS. SMITH: Thanks, Mike. Good afternoon, everybody. I would just make two points. I think that oftentimes in these summits, one of the things we get focused on is how many dollars do donors put on the table. And I think part of President Obama’s message embodied in this policy is that aid is not the solution, it’s a tool. And it’s one of many tools that we can apply to meeting the development challenges we and our partners face. I think he articulated very squarely and clearly the importance of making that aid as effective as possible, driving it, as Dr. Shah says, by evidence; making sure that our partners are using it effectively, but also complementing it with a host of other policy instruments that we can bring to bear.

The President was very clear in underscoring that we will honor our commitments. We continue to be the world’s leading donor. Early in his term, he made two major announcements with respect to assistance that are significant in their dollar amounts – the Global Health Initiative, that over six years, is $63 billion and builds on what President Bush did, but expands it both in terms of program and scope, and a food security initiative at the G-20 summit in London, where we made a pledge of $3.5 billion over three years, but then used our leadership and that of others to transform that into a $22 billion worldwide commitment.

The significance of both of those initiatives are that they are development initiatives. On the health side, while we’ll continue to provide life-saving services to people, we want to work with those governments that have shown that they have leadership, who are putting resources on the table, who have got dynamic and capable health ministers and health workers to build the systems that they need so that five, ten, fifteen, twenty years down the road, when we’re all facing another health crisis, they are better able to deliver the services their people need.

On the food security side, that was launched at a time when the spike in world food prices was destabilizing pretty much every country in the world, and we recognized, collectively, we were providing more money in world – in food aid than to support agricultural development, the sector that the majority of the world’s poor relies on. So again, it’s a very robust development initiative designed to help make these economies work.

The last thing I would say about the President’s speech in this policy is that it’s about potential. It’s about tackling poverty, but very much with a focus on what we’re seeing around the developing world where countries and communities are stepping up, where more political capital is being put into the game by a growing number of leaders, where countries are taking bold steps even in the aftermath of war, and countries such as Liberia to create environments where their people can thrive and their economies can thrive. This policy is centered around our meeting that leadership halfway and doing what we can so that, as he said yesterday, we can not only make more progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, but help our partners sustain them over time.

With that, I will turn to Anne-Marie. Thanks.

MS. SLAUGHTER: Thank you. Yesterday was a very proud day for the Administration. Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton have made clear from the outset of their tenure that elevating development was going to be one of the hallmarks of this Administration. And from Secretary Clinton’s point of view, having development be a core pillar of our foreign policy equal to diplomacy is something she’s personally very committed to. And yesterday, for the first time, we had a unified Administration development policy that can guide all of us in what we do.

I am the executive director of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the famous QDDR, which will be coming out next month. This is the policy review. The presidential directive and the speech you heard yesterday outlines an Administration policy on development. The QDDR announces what the reforms we’ll make to be able to implement that policy – how we will develop our diplomatic capacity to support development objectives, the changes that USAID will be making, and in many cases is already making. And also how we work in conflict zones and in fragile states to link up what we need to do for stabilization efforts with a longer term development strategy so that we can get the most out of our dollars, recognizing that what you do in stabilization is not the same as what you often need to do in a more stable environment.

So we will be rolling out the QDDR and talking about the capabilities to implement this policy, but it is a really proud moment to have this policy and to have an Administration this committed to development. Thank you.

PARTICIPANT: Hi, there. I just would like to echo or underscore a few of the points that the President made today in his speech before the General Assembly that folded in, again, a reemphasis on that which he laid out in much greater detail yesterday, and in which in today’s speech he referred to as “open economy.” And he coupled open economy with open society and open government, and these as pillars for an approach to democracy and human rights.

Just the four points that I think are worth reinforcing here today are, first, he spoke of a particular moment that we’re in right now. Again, much of our development strategy is going to turn on our ability to strengthen governance around the world. So few problems can be tackled if you don’t have strong, fair, transparent institutions. And the moment that Obama has spoken of and the Secretary has in other contexts is a moment in which the governance picture in certain quarters of the world is not looking that great. In tough economic times, you see human rights, anxiety around human rights; you see a trust deficit in many societies around governing institutions, a kind of social contract that’s frayed; you see corruptions that’s interfering not only with entrepreneurialship but also with basic governance. And of course, President Obama has long spoken of corruption as a profound human rights violation. You see governments, authoritarian governments learning from one another and imposing legal restrictions on civil society, which of course had its boom years in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and now you’re starting to see regimes getting more savvy in terms of how they restrict the activities of media and of these groups.

So I think in many ways the back half of the President’s speech today was a response to this moment, and in many ways, of course, what’s just been described is very, very responsive to this moment on the governance front.

The second point I just wanted to drill down on, since they’ve spoken really about the open economy piece of the speech, is this open society idea. I mean, the President as a former community organizer, I think when he speaks of the role of civil society and the role of bottom-up change, knows of what he speaks. And he’s long said that democracy can’t be imposed by military force from the outside.

Today, he drilled down in much greater detail on what it means to actually stand with civil society. What he laid out today, I think, was a vision for the long game and the kind of investments the United States needs to make over time in development, in governance, and in this space so that citizens can claim for themselves rights that have long been enshrined, of course, in international instruments.

He also spoke in that open society piece about technology and something the Secretary has spoken a lot about, the right to connect, and indeed stressed the right to connect securely. It’s no secret that while the internet is an explosive means by which citizens are connecting and empowering and organizing, it’s also trackable, and citizens in many quarters are running into trouble by virtue of having used this basic tool for freedom of expression.

The third point that the President made at the – toward the end of his speech was about open government. And as some of you know, domestically the President in his early days in office issued an open-government presidential memorandum that has resulted in his Administration posting something like 300,000 data sets online, predicated on the logic that some sunlight is a disinfectant. We who work at the White House, all the names of the people we meet with are made public, and we’re held accountable for the decisions we make.

What the Open Government Initiative that he laid out today would do is, building on what we’ve done, but also looking abroad and seeing the incredible innovation that’s going on in other countries – like Brazil, South Africa, India, Ghana – their amazing innovation in terms of civil society activism, but also what governments are doing to open up their books and to be more transparent about their expenditures and procurement decisions and so forth, is President Obama called on countries to come back together a year from now, making specific commitments in the transparency, accountability, and citizen empowerment space. So I think watch this space for next year. It’ll be very interesting to see how countries respond.

And then the last point I’d make is just his last point in the speech, which is the importance of countries that themselves escaped tyranny or suffered repression and who now live in democracies joining with the United States in these efforts on behalf of civil society, on behalf of government – governance and standing with people who are not as fortunate at this time. I think that was a powerful summons to countries that we really do want to partner with within the United States on issues of human rights, democracy, and governance.

With that, I think we’ll open up for questions.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible) questions, if you would (inaudible) identify your outlet (inaudible).

QUESTION: This is Mark Landler with The New York Times, for whoever wants to take a crack at this. I’m wondering whether the policy has any mechanism for persuading, prodding, pressuring rising countries with a lot of resources that are not historically huge development players to be more aggressive. So in other words, China, being the obvious example – is there thought given to how you get the Chinese not only to step up, but to step up in coordination with the U.S. in places where they’ve both active?

PARTICIPANT: Yeah, I think that one’s Mike. (Laughter.) The G-20.

MR. FROMAN: Thank you, (inaudible), but let me say a word about that in the context of the G-20, which is meeting next in Seoul in November, and the Korean chairs have added development to the agenda. So the G-20 that has thus far been focused on the financial crisis, regulatory reform, and international institutional reform will also take on development.

And the approach that the – I don’t want to preempt any announcement that they might make in November, but the approach that they are taking to development is not the traditional donor/donee discussion or dialogue around how much one set of countries is going to put up and how much others need. But it really is about this concept of what the emerging economies and the next generation of emerging economies can do to get on a path of contributing to balanced and sustainable growth globally. So their focus is taking the G-20 agenda itself and involving a wider range of countries, including developing countries, into that agenda.

And one of the interesting things about that will be the dialogue precisely with the countries that you mentioned, Mark – China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Korea itself – and the role that they want to play in helping to support other countries on the path towards growth. Certainly, some of them have done it by the example of their own policies and their own growth. Others are providing quite valuable technical assistance. There are technologies that are developed in India that are more appropriate than technologies that we might develop in the U.S. in terms of agricultural productivity in Africa, and we’re trying to find ways of working with the Government of India and the Indian agricultural sector to partner in places like Africa. The same is true of Brazil, that it’s doing a great deal in Africa right now on agricultural productivity. And so it will be a more comprehensive approach to development, in part because of who you have around the table.

MODERATOR: The next question in the back, please.

QUESTION: Dingos Javas (ph) from Sustainable Development Media. I heard the word “development” and I heard the words “sustainability,” “sustainable” in different sentences. My question is: If the two are being brought together in the sense of sustainable development, which includes climate change, biodiversity, and which actually leads to the ideas that the only development is the one that is sustainable?

ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: So the answer is absolutely, and we have a broad range of examples to demonstrate how, as we collectively, with partners, pursue development, we’re trying to use a very broad definition of sustainability to make sure it sustains. One part of that answer is environmental sustainability, and a core part of our Feed The Future initiative, which invests in agricultural productivity and research, is investing in no-till agricultural systems, investing in more climate-resilient systems, like the introduction of drought-tolerant or water-stress-tolerant seeds, coming up with systems that allow for using less fertilizer in a more effective way when appropriate. So, environmental sustainability is critical.

I think the broader point, though, of the speech overall has been fundamentally understanding that economic sustainability requires real economic growth, real ownership at the country level. And so our Global Health Initiative is a great example of that. In the nine GHI-plus countries where we’re implementing the initiative first, we’ve asked for comprehensive plans that are country-owned. We’re restructuring our programs to make sure they align with what countries prioritize and can sustain over time. And we’re looking much more seriously at the financing instruments over the long term to make sure there’s core sustainability for an effort that puts people on treatment or launches major prevention activities by diseases.

So those are just some examples, but sustainability is a core underlying principle of the overall policy and these specific initiatives.

QUESTION: Okay. Someone fast and furious. There was a – earlier today at the UN, there was a press conference by the head of the Global Fund on AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria, and so – and (inaudible) whatever – I asked him about the protest last night at the fundraiser, and he said they’re still – he said – sort of diplomatically, but he said we’re still waiting for a number. He also specifically said that – something about the three-year – he said that the U.S. should step up and do as other countries do and commit to a – make a three-year commitment rather than year by year. So I don’t know where that stands.

I had also – I had wanted to ask Ms. Power about – in a speech today – I know it was in the MDG speech, but in the GA speech, there was no mention of Sudan, Darfur, or any of the topics that were said to be so important in this trip. So I guess, can you – maybe that was – I don’t know why that was decided that way, but at the meeting tomorrow, do you expect this issue of the Security Council trip to go? There’s been a lot of controversy about whether a photo op with Bashir makes it that the council as a whole won’t go. What’s sort of the thinking behind that? And is there any push by the Administration for transparency by the UN itself, like the things that you said about disclosing meetings? There’s no disclosure of who meets with Ban Ki-moon for what purpose.

And even a final USAID question: Where does it stand on the UNOPS Afghanistan? There was a big investigation of that. It’s not really clear to me whether UNOPS got – whether USAID got all the money back and whether you’re now confident that they’ll share information with you going forward.

PARTICIPANT: Yeah, let me just take the question about the Global Fund. The President said quite deliberately yesterday, talked about our increases in both financial support and programmatic – diverse, comprehensive, programmatic support for global health, including strengthening our commitment to the Global Fund. We continue to do that and we plan to continue in that direction. We are big supporters of the fund and have been since the beginning.

We’re in the process now of figuring out where that will all come out. I would say that while I think the passionate enthusiasm that has driven the advocacy community has generated real results, I think one of the reasons we see the high spending worldwide that we do on global health is because of that community.

I think there’s also a message in the President’s speech that’s very important, and Raj has spoken to this and can speak to it in great deal, both as the Administrator of AID and as a doctor in his own right: We’re also talking about doing more and more effectively with the dollars we spend. And it’s very easy to say we will add this much money, and this much money and this much money and this much money, to everything we do. But we also want to talk about what we do with that money, how we spend it, how it’s invested, how we can work with our partners to get tangible outcomes.

So that’s a discipline we’re going to apply across the board. So I would hope that our advocacy colleagues over time challenge us on the numbers, but also challenge us on the quality, because the quantity of aid is not a sufficient indicator of our success unless we also match it with the quality. And when we have determined our next steps with the fund, we will certainly be making those public, including to all the folks you met with last night.

PARTICIPANT: I need to write down all the questions you asked. (Laughter.) I only heard three, so I’m going to go with what I heard.

So just first on the speech today, the truth is the President is giving a very substantial set of remarks on Sudan tomorrow, and the judgment was let’s do this right, let’s do it with all the nuance. You’ll hear a lot about Darfur, a lot about CPA. For those of you who don’t know, the Secretary General is hosting a meeting tomorrow, high-level meeting that President Obama has chosen to attend, as have now a couple dozen heads of state, several dozen foreign ministers, the heads of all the major international institutions.

And I think what you’ll see out of the meeting is a real show, I think an unprecedented show – recent show anyway – of global unity around the CPA. I mean, I think since 2005 when the peace deal was struck, we haven’t seen this number of countries coming together putting differences – tactical differences aside and really standing united in order to send the parties a clear message. So you will hear a very elaborate account from President Obama tomorrow, and so look for that.

In terms of the Security Council trip, the details and logistics are still being worked out. I don’t think there’s much to say here beyond that it’s still very much in play. And again, as part of this drumbeat around the imminent deadlines and the need for this – these referenda to go off on time in early January, pretty much everything but the kitchen sink is being thrown at this challenge. And so the trip, I think, is being seen in that light.

The other thing I wanted to add just in terms of President Obama, although he didn’t mention it – you’re right – in the General Assembly address today, he did just emerge from a bilat with Prime Minister Wen of China, and I know he raised it there. So again, I think you’re seeing at the highest levels – I know the Secretary also has had a stream of bilateral meetings with various parties from Sudan with foreign ministers from other countries that have to – including China, where this issue has to also be on center stage. So again, you’re seeing it, I think, mainstreamed throughout not only the few days here, but certainly in all the remaining days between now and the referenda.

And then lastly on the open government question and – I think – I mean, the hope is that already what we’ve seen is so many countries around the world approaching this Administration and saying, hey, here’s what we’re doing on technology and citizen empowerment, and here in Indonesia we list – we allow citizens to write in their complaints about local police and we have a central repository to deal with that. So using technology, posting financial data and so forth, empowering citizens to throw that back at governments and institutions – we’re seeing this kind of vibrancy and energy out there, and the United States is just one of many actors that are playing in this space.

By issuing this appeal today to come back next year, I think you probably will start to see more energy actually situated around here. And I can only imagine that that will have some spillover effects. The more that governments seek openness and practice transparency and accountability, I think it’s no secret that the UN is often the sum of its parts, so the more parts you have talking and playing in these areas, I think the more of an effect it’ll have on the cultural role.

ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: And I think finally on the question related to UNOPS, yeah, USAID has a very clear contracts management policy, and that was a situation through UNDP where there were some issues about accounting and performance. And like any of our partners, when we send U.S. taxpayer dollars, we carefully try to track what we’re getting for them. And we only work with partners that are able to be transparent, open, and partner in a way that’s effective in terms of supporting those investigations, and when resources are misspent, reimbursing the agency and the United States Government.

So we have an ongoing partnership with UNOPS in other areas. We’ve had a successful investigation and are resolving that issue with them on the ground in Afghanistan.

I would just use that as an opportunity to also flag a larger effort we’re undertaking, which is in part consistent with the overall policy that was announced yesterday, which is to look at all of our contracting and procurement mechanisms and really overhaul the way we’re pursuing this so we can engage with the young entrepreneurs that are local entrepreneurs or young local civil society leaders who are often the agents of change that the President and the Secretary of State have spoken about, and use our current mechanisms to do that. Thanks.

MODERATOR: We have time for one last question.

QUESTION: Hi, this is Mark Goldberg with UN Dispatch. I had a question on Pakistan relief. Tomorrow there’s a meeting for the launch of the consolidated – or the revised emergency Pakistan appeal. Can we expect any new announcements from the U.S. Government towards that appeal? And I guess more generally, why do you think that the response to the Pakistan flood relief efforts have been somewhat slow – not necessarily on the part of the United States Government, but generally?

ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, I’m glad you asked that. The United States has recognized that this is a tragic disaster that’s affected 20million people and probably 8 or 9 million people that need immediate humanitarian support. To meet those needs, the United States has provided now $345 million of direct assistance in the form of food assistance, water sanitation, hygiene, and health and medical services. We’ve also provided an additional 55 or so million dollars in in-kind support for military assets, mostly helicopters and air transport, that has helped enable the response overall. And we’re doing that in coordination and partnership with the Government of Pakistan.

We announced last week – last weekend, I guess Sunday – a $75 million commitment to expand food assistance, and 70 million of that 75 was locally procured food from largely Pakistani wheat stocks. That was in direct response to a request from the National Disaster Management Authority. And we’re working in deep coordination with them, but they estimate that about 50 percent of immediate food needs are being met, and so that 75 million was responsive to that.

The larger appeal the UN has articulated is critically important and necessary, but we also have another upcoming global effort to help with the reconstruction, and there are a series of important meetings coming up in October and most notably in November in Pakistan that will be an opportunity for Pakistan to demonstrate how they are raising domestic revenue and putting in place accountability mechanisms and for donors and partners to demonstrate how we can support them at this time of need.

So thank you.

MODERATOR: Excuse me, one last one.

QUESTION: Hi, Anita Snow from the Associated Press. It’s a pretty simple question. I’m just trying to figure out in my head what this new development focus is going to look like on the ground in extremely undeveloped places like Haiti or Sub-Saharan Africa. I mean, what’s it going to – because some aid is going to be still necessary for these places. I mean, these are very vulnerable societies. I’m just wondering what it would look like. What are we talking – what kind of programs, what kind of –

ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, let me give you an example the President made reference to in his speech yesterday, and that’s what we’re doing in food security in Ghana. Ghana is a country that has gone through a process of saying that Ghana wants to invest in agricultural development and free itself from food aid and food assistance. We are changing our portfolio of activities there to support and back their plans. They went through a difficult process, brought together all of their partners and stakeholders – the World Bank, Canadians, other donors – and asked us all to partner in an effort in northern Ghana to invest in infrastructure and roads, seeds and fertilizer support, helping farmers access markets, and to do all of that in a way that will help develop a robust agricultural-related economy. And that’s what we’re doing. And so it’s part of the – what’s that?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: And similarly in Haiti, actually, we’ve got – I just finished a long process with colleagues looking at the health plan that the Haitian Government is proposing. And it’s fundamentally different than what’s taken place. For decades in Haiti, NGOs have been supported completely independent of a single strategic approach to building a health system, and as a result, you’ve had a donor building a hospital somewhere, treating people, often a ministry is not even aware of it and the ministry doctors go to work for that donor and then no one is providing support in a perhaps higher priority health clinic. We’re pulling together one global plan for the Haitian health system and we’re reallocating our resources so that a significant proportion of our spend going forward will be training positions, training medical services providers, and helping them go to those places that the Haitians believe are the priorities for improving the health of that population. And it’s a fundamentally different way of thinking and it’s fundamentally oriented around building a coherent, strategic system that can be sustained over time by Haiti with its partners.

PARTICIPANT: Just to add a couple quick things to that, we’re not talking about eliminating aid from the equation, particularly in low-income countries. I think the way to think about this is kind of smart aid plus. How do we make our aid more effective in the ways that Dr. Shah just described? By being very deliberate and by focusing, again, in places like northern Ghana, where our aid can contribute to income generation, wealth creation, and so on and so forth.

But then how do we bring other resources to the table? You mentioned Africa, where, for example, years ago the African Growth and Opportunity Act was passed. That is a magnet in many ways for business. There’s a lot more that we can do to drive foreign-direct investment to these countries. There’s a lot more we can do to work with these governments that are starting to change their policies to help generate more domestic investment.

And let me just – you mentioned Haiti – let me give you a parallel example that I think is quite worth looking at. The World Bank has a set of indicators, called doing business indicators, that look at the ease of doing business in a country, do you – how long does it take to register a business, whether you’re a domestic business or a foreign business, and so on. And the leading countries in the last set of surveys are all countries that have emerged from war. They’re Rwanda, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

And I think there’s a story in that about, on the one hand, you’ve got the scope of these transitions, whether in a Liberia or a Haiti, which are daunting, which are hard for us to even imagine. But out of that comes oftentimes – not always, but oftentimes a real opportunity, because you’ve got governments that are looking squarely at the fact that if they don’t put things together pretty quickly, it’s going to be very hard not to revert to war or crisis and acute poverty.

So I think one of the very interesting developments – I think this came out at the MDG summit, if you look at some of the best performers – is that even in those countries that I think we have an image in our mind of as the most hopeless, there are some extraordinary things happening. And I think part of our mission is to figure out how to get to the scene, if you will, and seize those opportunities as quickly as possible.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you. Thank you, Raj, Gayle, Anne-Marie, Samantha and Mike. Thank you all for coming. The last thing I would say is that we do have a number of materials that were put out in conjunction with the President’s speech yesterday and today that help dig into some of the issues that they raised here, so I draw your attention to some of those materials on everyone’s websites, and wish you a good afternoon. Thanks a lot.

New York Foreign Press Center, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, New York City

Last updated: October 14, 2014

Share This Page