Helen Clark: Economic, political inclusion needed for peace

Apr 7, 2011

Washington — Attaining and maintaining the peace and security needed for development requires broad economic and political inclusion, said UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark.“

Even with impressive development progress in many areas over the last decade, many people have been left behind, experiencing that toxic mix of economic and political exclusion,” Helen Clark told faculty and students at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.“

Yet those people too have dreams and aspirations, not just for material progress, but also for the opportunity to realize their full potential, build a better future for their children, and participate in shaping the decisions which impact on their lives.”

As events unfold in the Arab States, the world finds itself, “at a defining moment, the implications of which are enormous for our common future,” she said.“

A combination of economic and political exclusion and injustice has brought millions of people in the Arab States region onto the streets to demand change,” "

More justice, as well as unleashing the Arab States’ undoubted entrepreneurial and creative talents, diversifying economies, and providing women and men with the tools and opportunities they need to build a better life are key to building more inclusive economies and societies in the future.”

"There are moments when historic, transformational change is possible. This is one of those moments in the Arab States. That change will be brought about by the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere. But we can help,” she said, citing UNDP’s decades of work in governance and development around the world.

Official Development Assistance aid remains a wise investment. We all benefit if developing countries have vibrant economies and educated and healthy populations; enjoy good governance and the rule of law; live in peace; and can develop sustainably,” she said.

Youth factor

“Fifty-six per cent of the population in the Arab States region is estimated to be under the age of 25. Youth unemployment there is over 25 per cent, about double the global average. Educated youth have higher unemployment rates than do youth without qualifications,” Helen Clark said.

“Combine these factors with modern information and communications technologies, and it is scarcely surprising that young people have played a significant role in recent events. But across all age groups there has been a pent-up desire for dignity, for a say in the decisions which shape people’s lives, and a willingness to stand up against corruption and repression.

”Citing UNDP’s 20-year-old annual Human Development reports — which pioneered the notion that development should be measured not only in terms of income but through other indices of wellbeing such as rates of mortality, literacy, and living standards — she noted that UNDP’s Arab Human Development Reports have been prescient in noting a need for sweeping change in the region.“

Those Arab Human Development Reports have consistently warned of the consequences of the lack of inclusion and opportunity in the region. They have identified major human development deficits facing Arab countries — across governance, women’s empowerment, and human rights generally, in access to education and other services, and in human security overall. Their central message has been clear: reform is necessary and should not be delayed.”

“Inclusive governance is also important for development. Meaningful participation in decision-making is a cornerstone of the social stability and peace which sustained development requires,” Helen Clark said.

UNDP, the UN’s largest development agency, is now working with authorities in Tunisia and Egypt on political and economic transitions, notably by supporting elections and national dialogue.

For complete speech: “Jobs, Equity and Voice: Why Both Economic and Political Inclusion Matter”

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