Your Excellency, Dr N. Hassan Wirajuda, Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Republic of Indonesia,
Your Excellency Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Republic of South Africa,
Distinguished Ministers and Delegates,
It is indeed a privilege to participate in the preparations for the Asian African Summit 2005. Our Summit of 2005 is a tribute to that held 50 years ago, which for the first time crystallised the ethos and values of our two continents. The Bandung Summit inspired the movement for Non-alignment and the creation of the OAU. Our Summit will, we hope, set in place a New Strategic Partnership between Asia and Africa. A Partnership which will lead to the development of continent-wide, intra-regional cooperation between Asia and Africa.
A remarkable galaxy of personalities had participated in the Bandung conference – Pandit Nehru, President Sukarno, Ali Sastrimedijojo, Prime Minister Mohammed Ali of Pakistan, Chou-En Lai of China, Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia – the only leader present at the time who is still alive today, Nkrumah of Ghana, Nasser of Egypt, U Nu, Wan of Thailand and Sir John Kotlewala of Ceylon. The historic nature of the conference had been heightened by their presence. The ten principles, or Dasa Sila, which resulted from the Conference reaffirmed the principle of peaceful coexistence as the basis for global peace and cooperation.
The policy of non-alignment which has been followed by a large number of developing countries subsequent to the end of the colonial era can also be traced back to the Bandung Conference. This fact of history should be recognized by the Ministerial Statement which we issue on the Golden Anniversary of that Conference. I propose that we consider a preamblur paragraph which recognises the role of the 1955 Asian-African Conference in the enunciation of the objectives of non alignment.
It is a matter of satisfaction that considerable progress has been made by the people of Asia and Africa since the year 1955. Colonialism has been eradicated. So has the scourge of apartheid. Our successes in these areas owe in no small measure to cooperation between Africa and Asia.
There is, however, we are convinced, a need to continue to pursue collective action to address issues of common concern. The situation in 2005 is, in many ways, different from that which prevailed in 1955. While the decline of colonialism and the emergence of power blocs defined the international situation at that time, it is globalisation, we believe, which defines today’s paradigm.
This is a Forum where, we the countries of Africa and Asia, should determine to shape a new United Nations that gives us greater voice in its decision making processes so that the UN becomes an effective and efficient instrument to tackle shared threats and meet shared needs.
The United Nations, set up in 1945, was based on the power realities of that time. It is now necessary to undertake the reform of the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions, and, in particular, the UN Security Council, to reflect the realities of 2005. In this context, it is important to increase the membership of the United Nations Security Council, both in the permanent as well as the non-permanent categories.
Globalisation, we know, is both an opportunity and a challenge. The freer movement of trade, capital and technology has led to the expansion of economic growth, employment and social development in many parts of the world, including in developing countries. It, however, also runs the risk of leaving large parts of the world behind and of increasing the gap between the haves and have-nots.
We are some 4 billion people in Asia and Africa. We cannot just say that we are being marginalised by globalisation. We need, instead, to be defining it. We need to act collectively in dealing with issues relating to the international trading system and the international financial architecture. If we can do so, globalisation can lead to a win-when situation for all of us.
It is, therefore, indeed appropriate that the Plan of Action which we would be adopting seeks to support efforts to assist the countries of Asia and Africa to acquire the requisite capacities to successfully compete and fully benefit from globalization. The new partnership between Asia and Africa which we seek to build needs to be relevant to the countries of the two continents. We need to recognize that the issues of common concern which call for closer cooperation and collective action are also those of poverty, under-development, gender mainstreaming, communicable disease, environmental degradation, natural disasters, drought and desertification, the digital divide, inequitable market access and foreign debt. These have, very rightly, been emphasized in the Declaration of our New Partnership.
India has benefited from globalisation. It could not have been imagined a decade ago, that India would be a major software services exporter and that a new process ‘brain gain’, not ‘brain drain’, would be created by the opportunities in this sector. Information technology enabled services, which globally positioned India, are now facing competition from the R&D sector. More than 100 Fortune 500 companies have put up R&D facilities in India in the last few years. For quite a few companies, the facilities in India are the largest outside the United States.
We have been able to take advantage of globalisation, because of our well-trained human skills. Human resource development is a must for economic development, particularly now as we move towards a knowledge-based economy. The countries of Asia and Africa have an intrinsic advantage, in their vast pool of talented people, to benefit from the process of globalisation.
We are happy to be able to assist our brothers and sisters in Africa in Asia, to take advantage of the new paradigm of economic development, through the Indian Technical And Economic Cooperation Programme. Under this Programme, we offer 1000 training slots to African countries every year. The utilisation is roughly 95 per cent. The approximate monetary value of technical assistance, including training, deployment of experts and projects, which we have extended under this Programme is about US dollar one billion.
We are also committed to deepening our economic linkages with Africa. Investment in Africa is now a priority for us. This goes, hand-in-hand, with development cooperation. We have announced US dollar 200 million in lines of credit for projects which fulfil the objectives of NEPAD. We have also embarked on an initiative with eight West African countries, known as the Team Nine Initiative. This is based on public-private partnership and can undertake bilateral and sub-regional projects with funding of US dollar 400 million in lines of credit, which we have made available. Taken together with our bilateral lines of credit to individual African countries, the total adds to US dollar one billion.
Our meeting comes in the aftermath of the Tsunami. We clearly need to also address the issue of Asian-African cooperation with regard to disaster reduction. I recall that I had, at the special meeting of leaders convened by ASEAN in the aftermath of the Tsunami, here in Jakarta on January 6, 2005 said: “Existing vocabularies are inadequate to describe the intensity and magnitude of the horrendous catastrophe that hit a dozen countries of the Indian Ocean. The light went out of so many homes in so many countries in so short a span of time – only a few minutes.”
The best way that we can honour the dead is by protecting the living. Earthquakes, floods, cyclones, drought, locusts and other natural disasters wreak devastation for tens of millions of people every year. They cause a disproportionate loss to developing countries who are ill-equipped to deal with the ravages of nature.
Natural hazards need not inevitably lead to widespread disaster. Droughts, for example, are largely unavoidable. They need not, however, necessarily lead to famine if our social economic systems are resilient to the impact of natural disasters. Disaster risk reduction, therefore, needs to be an essential investment for sustainable development. We cannot only limit our focus and resources on responding to disaster. We must also reduce the risk of disaster.
The Tsunami has shown that natural disasters do not respect national boundaries. It is, however, not just tragedy that can bring us together. The 1955 Bandung Conference demonstrated our ability to work together for the common welfare of the peoples of our two continents. As we commemorate the Bandung Conference this year, it is only appropriate that we should discuss ways in which we can cooperate to reduce the risk of disaster. A joint approach could complement national efforts and allow us to pool together our respective strengths and complementarities effectively and efficiently. This is an area that, in our view, merits consideration by this Conference.
Peaceful coexistence and nonalignment were, in 1955, in our view, necessary for world peace. With the purpose of saving time, India did not speak at the opening session of the Bandung Conference. I would, however, like to recall the words of Pandit Nehru in the Political Committee on April 22, 1955. Dr Roeslan Abdulgani, who was the Secretary-General of the Conference, has recorded that when Nehru spoke, “Everyone listened spellbound. …. It seemed that nobody stirred”. Pandit Nehru, referring to the developments in the early years the Cold War said:
“If all the world would to be divided up between these two big blocs, what would be the result? The inevitable result would be war. Therefore, every step that takes place in reducing the area in the world which may be called the unaligned area is a dangerous step and leads to war.”
The need today, we believe, is to increase the area of economic cooperation and collaboration. Globalisation provides some of the conditions for doing so. Such collaboration can, we expect, also help in putting political differences behind us. The New Asian African Strategic Partnership, we hope, will take us in that direction.
April 20, 2005