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Updated: September 23, 2010 08:32 IST

Developing countries must be responsible for themselves: Obama

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U.S. President Barack Obama addresses a summit on the Millennium Development Goals at the United Nations on Wednesday.
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses a summit on the Millennium Development Goals at the United Nations on Wednesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said that developing nations would have to help themselves and not completely depend on aid from developed world, which itself is struggling with financial crisis.

“To developing countries, this must be your moment of responsibility as well. We want you to prosper and succeed — it’s in your interest, and it’s in our interest,” Mr. Obama told the Millennium Development Goals summit at the United Nations.

“We want to help you realise your aspirations. But there is no substitute for your leadership. Only you and your people can make the tough choices that will unleash the dynamism of your country. Only you can make the sustainable investments that improve the health and well-being of your people.”

Mr. Obama was speaking at the end of the three-day summit called to rejuvenate eight development targets set at the 2000 Millennium summit, aiming to be reached by 2015.

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) include eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Acknowledging that the developed world is struggling with its own financial crisis, Mr. Obama appealed to the people of rich countries not to turn their backs on the poorer countries even in these difficult times.

“In our global economy, progress in even the poorest countries can advance the prosperity and security of people far beyond their borders, including my fellow Americans,” he said. “When a child dies from a preventable disease, it shocks our conscience.”

“When a young entrepreneur can’t start a new business, it stymies the creation of new jobs and markets — in his country and in ours,” he said. “When a disease goes unchecked, it can endanger the health of millions around the world.”

Warning that there were just five years left before the MDG deadline, Mr. Obama called for the world to do more and quickly. “With 10 years down and just five years before our development targets come do, we must do better,” he said.

“Now, I know that helping communities and countries realise a better future isn’t easy,” he said, adding, “I’ve seen it in my own life. I saw it in my mother, as she worked to lift up the rural poor, from Indonesia to’s hard...but I know progress is possible.”

Unlike Japan and France, which announced billions of dollars in aid to boost education and fight HIV respectively, Mr. Obama did not announce any new aid towards the MDGs.

However, the U.S. announced the “U.S. Global Development Policy,” which would look at development differently. “Put simply, the U.S. is changing the way we do business,” he said.

Noting that aid does not mean development, Mr. Obama said, “Development is helping nations to actually develop — moving from poverty to prosperity. And we need more than just aid to unleash that change.”

“We’re changing how we view the ultimate goal of development...our focus on assistance has saved lives in the short term, but it hasn’t always improved those societies over the long term,” he added.

The U.S. president also pointed out that millions of people relying on food assistance for decades is not development, but dependence. “It’s a cycle we need to break,” he said. “Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and peoples a path out of poverty.”

Finally, Mr. Obama called for “broad-based economic growth,” which he described as a “powerful force the world has ever known for eradicating poverty and creating opportunity.”

“It’s the force that turned South Korea from a recipient of aid to a donor of aid. It’s the force that has raised living standards from Brazil to India,” he said.

“And it’s the force that has allowed emerging African countries like Ethiopia, Malawi and Mozambique to defy the odds and make real progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” the U.S. president added.

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