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Development Aid Is a Moral Imperative

A wide view of the opening of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit, as Kasit Piroma (on screens), Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, delivers remarks, in New York, 20 Sep 2010

"Progress in even the poorest countries can advance the prosperity and security of people far beyond their borders."

Development -- aid to countries struggling to get out of poverty -- is not only a moral imperative, but a strategic and economic imperative, said U.S. President Barack Obama at the recent Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York. "In our global economy, progress in even the poorest countries can advance the prosperity and security of people far beyond their borders," he said:

"When a child dies from a preventable disease, it shocks all of our consciences. When a girl is deprived of an education or her mother is denied equal rights, it undermines the prosperity of their nation. When a young entrepreneur can’t start a new business, it stymies the creation of new jobs and markets in that entrepreneur’s country, but also in our own. When millions of fathers cannot provide for their families, it feeds the despair that can fuel instability and violent extremism. When a disease goes unchecked, it can endanger the health of millions around the world."

The old myths that development is just charity, which does not serve the common interest, or that some countries will always be poor, have been disproved by huge strides forward over the past half century, which saw greater gains in human development than at any time in history.

That is why the Obama Administration is changing its approach to helping people in need. Instead of just handing out aid, the U.S. will offer countries around the world "a path out of poverty."

"The purpose of development ... is creating the conditions where assistance is no longer needed," said President Obama. "So we will seek partners who want to build their own capacity to provide for their people. We will seek development that is sustainable."

"Development that offers a path out of poverty. ... Development that builds the capacity of countries to deliver the health care and education that their people need. Development that unleashes broader prosperity and builds the next generation of entrepreneurs and emerging economies. Development rooted in shared responsibility, mutual accountability and, most of all, concrete results that pull communities and countries from poverty to prosperity."

"These," said President Obama, "are the elements of America’s new approach."