awards

Address by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
October 01, 2002
I want to begin by thanking Henry Kissinger for his kind introduction. Henry Kissinger is, of course, a statesman of a very high order and I am honoured to share this stage with him.

The Appeal of Conscience Foundation is about encouraging and recognizing statesmanship in the best sense of the word. That is, leadership for the public good.

Leaders with great responsibilities benefit indeed from encouragement and pressure from organizations like yours. You help us aspire to the highest standards and insist we work to promote adherence to universal values and norms.

It is my great privilege and honour to accept this award on behalf of the people of Canada. For the honour you have given me really belongs to them.

And I stress that their conscience is my conscience. Their values are my values. Values of freedom and justice. Of tolerance and human dignity. Of compassion and generosity. Of prosperity and fairness.

Reflecting those values while trying to advance progressive and cooperative approaches on the world stage represents a tradition of Canadian leaders. It has been my duty and goal for the past nine years to try and carry the tradition forward. Whether we are dealing with issues like we have seen in the Balkans. Or the war against terrorism. Or action on Africa or the global environment.

In my time as Prime Minister...I have witnessed the period of euphoria, and belief in new possibilities at the end of the Cold War. And I have seen the more recent renewed sense of global threat. The threat of terror.

Terrorism is the ultimate wrong. It has no moral justification or conscience. Not in Ireland. Not in South and Central America. Not in the Middle East. Not anywhere. Terrorism is about the taking of innocent life. Individually or in groups. At bus stops. In train stations and homes.

And on September 11th...last year... in two of the greatest buildings...in one of the greatest cities...in the world. Terrorism is an assault against civilized values and requires forceful and determined responses by civilized nations.

A fundamental obligation of government is ensuring the security of our citizens. In the post -September 11th context... President Bush has...indeed... served the American people very well in this regard. He has shown both resolve and restraint in leading his country. He has successfully gathered an international coalition of common purpose. And a remarkable consensus around the need for cooperative, coordinated efforts to defeat terrorism.

Canada has been in the forefront of this coalition. The international campaign in Afghanistan confirms a belief long held by Canadians in the importance of multilateral approaches to international issues.

It is in all of our interests to use the power and moral weight of international institutions in this complex world. Collective action, I believe, produces greater long term security for all than does unilateral action.

In this vein I believe the UN has a crucial role to play in the current situation with Iraq.

Working with and through the UN is the best way to ensure respect for international law. It is the best way to deal with states which support terrorism or attempt to develop weapons of mass destruction. And deal with them we must.

We must keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein to accept unfettered inspections by the UN. And make absolutely clear that the resolve of the international community to see UN resolutions respected is steadfast and determined.

But we must also recognize that our peace and security requires not only armed responses or better intelligence and cooperation. It also requires collective measures to address poverty and despair.

To quote from the National Security Strategy recently announced by President Bush... "a world where some live in comfort and plenty...while half the human race lives on less than two dollars a day...is neither just nor stable. Poverty...weak institutions and corruption can make weak states vulnerable to terrorist networks."

For billions of people in the world...the main life-threatening dangers beyond their control are those of famine, disease, feeble economies, inept or corrupt governance. And regional conflicts rooted in competition for land and scarce resources.

It is, of course, the right thing to do to advance human development in poor countries. But helping such countries lift themselves out of poverty also advances our own security. And will create the conditions for a broader global prosperity.

For globalization must be made to work for the poor, not just the wealthy. The African Action Plan endorsed this year at the G-8 Summit in Alberta is a perfect illustration of this philosophy.

The Action Plan strikes a new bargain between Africa and the developed world.

A bargain in which progressive African leaders have pledged themselves to advancing good governance, rooting out corruption, and supporting democracy.

In return, G-8 leaders have committed to strengthened development aid, technical cooperation, and to encouraging trade and investment.

For Africa has been the neglected continent since the end of the Cold War. It is essential to put their needs back on the developed world's radar screen.

Half the population of Sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.00 a day. The average purchasing power overall is 20% below what it was twenty years ago when we already considered Africa poor.

Twenty-five million HIV positive Africans face certain death without access to better treatments. Leaving behind a potential 40 million orphans.

The increased aid pledged by G-8 leaders is part of the answer. So is the commitment by Africans to good governance and the rule of law.

But Africa will not rise unless we work together to create conditions for domestic savings, investment and trade.

That means opening our markets to goods that Africans can more readily produce. Such as agricultural products, textiles and apparel.

As of January 1, 2003, Canada will eliminate tariffs and quotas on almost all products from least developed countries in Africa and elsewhere.

But if I may be really frank, the biggest hurdle faced by poor nations are the huge subsidies for agriculture currently paid by the European Union and the United States.

These subsidies force prices down and effectively block poor countries from competing. I recognize the domestic political pressure for such subsidies.

My government has had to deal with the same thing in deciding to drop tariffs and quotas. But we did it because it was right. And because free trade means greater prosperity for all sides in the long run.

Consider that last year agriculture subsidies in the European Union and United States were greater that $300 billion. Foreign aid from developed nations, by contrast, amounted only to $50 billion. Conscience urges us to begin eliminating these distorting, unfair subsidies and to do it soon.

While I am on the topic of global responsibilities, I would be remiss if I failed to mention climate change.

This phenomenon is creating new health, economic and environmental problems that threaten to become defining challenges for future generations.

Once again, national interests would be best served by multilateral cooperation.

It is for that reason that our government will ask the Canadian Parliament to vote on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. We are currently developing an implementation strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2012.

While the United States has decided to address climate change outside the Kyoto agreement, I nevertheless remain hopeful that our two countries will find ways to cooperate on this challenge in the coming period.

I believe that the health and well being of future generations requires the world to collectively address it. And to seize the opportunities for new technologies and investment that will come with it.

In conclusion, I want to stress three issues of overriding importance. First, security from terror; second, development in poor countries; and third, environmental security for the planet.

A more prosperous, secure, healthy, and hopeful world requires collective action on these issues.

We have to recognize that acting for the greater good, and respecting our common space is the best way to serve the long-term good of each of us individually.

Simply put, I can say to the Appeal of Conscience Foundation: following conscience has a pay off.

On behalf of Canadians I will continue to advocate for collective action on each of these fronts during the time I have remaining as Prime Minister.

I want to thank you again for this recognition and for your noble advocacy for these and other crucial issues facing humanity.
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