The Road to Dignity Runs Through the UN

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Ban Ki Moon released his much anticipated “synthesis report” on the Sustainable Development Goals which brought together various recommendations for what should replace the MGDs when they expire next year. The report is titled “The Road to Dignity by 2030” and it’s release serves as the starting gun for negotiations at the General Assembly among member states over what, exactly, should be included in the Sustainable Development Goals. The big headline from the Secretary General’s report was that he reaffirmed the 17 goals and 169 targets that a prior UN body had endorsed.  (Guardian )

If you spend it, good health will come…Spending on average $25 a woman annually on sexual and reproductive health services would drastically lower the number of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth, and the number of newborn deaths, says a report that calculates the cost and benefits of healthcare provision.(Guardian

Comings and Goings…Everyone’s favorite bow-tied Neglected Tropical Diseases expert Dr. Peter Hotez was appointed to serve as a U.S. Science Envoy (State Dept

 Developing Story: Another massive typhoon is on its way to the Philippines. Preparations are underway before it makes landfall. 32 million people could be in its path: (BBC


Dozens of youths in the Guinean capital Conakry staged an angry protest against a new Ebola treatment centre on Thursday, halting the launch of the construction project. (AFP

Male Ebola survivors in Liberia are being warned by local health authorities to abstain from sex for at least three months after being discharged from treatment centres, over fears the virus can still be passed on, even once the person has been given a clean bill of health. (Guardian

One of the men responsible for discovering the Ebola virus has accused the WHO of taking too long to respond to the most recent epidemic. (DW

The deputy chairman of the African Union Commission says more than 200 medical professionals will be deployed Thursday to the three West African countries battling the Ebola outbreak. (VOA

U.S. healthcare worker who had been in West Africa and may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is being transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, a hospital spokeswoman said. (Reuters

 Scientists at Oxford University have launched the first clinical tests of a new Ebola vaccine approach, using a booster developed by Denmark’s Bavarian Nordic that may improve the effects of a shot from GlaxoSmithKline. (Reuters

The World Bank said it would speed up delivery of hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance to fight Ebola in West Africa, as Sierra Leone appealed for help in plugging gaps in its response. (Reuters

New data shows the Ebola outbreak intensifying in Sierra Leone, even as it stabilizes or drops off in other West African countries. (VOA

Dangerous practices spread Ebola in Sierra Leone (AP


After years of following a pattern familiar to bring water to Tanzanians, a new approach emerges with the hope of increasing accountability and, ultimately, access to water. (GlobalPost

France is withdrawing troops from Central African Republic as a United Nations peacekeeping force nears its full deployment, but it will keep a presence to support the U.N. with a rapid reaction force, officials and diplomats said. (Reuters

Police in Kenya are consulting technical experts to determine if 77 Chinese nationals arrested with advanced communications equipment in several houses in an upscale Nairobi neighborhood were committing espionage, an official said Thursday. (AP

While some diplomats have voiced unease about the military’s role in politics since protests toppled long-time ruler Blaise Compaore in October, few Burkinabe are concerned as long as the soldiers protect their ‘revolution’ and push through demanded reforms. (Reuters

Democratic Republic of Congo is to start repatriating former M23 rebels from neighboring countries, a government official said on Thursday, a process it hopes will prevent the defeated insurgents from regrouping. (VOA

Realizing a continental free trade bloc has been challenging for the African Union. Africa’s leaders decided in 2012 that the continent should be a free trade area by 2017. The first steps of creating the necessary institutions and policies are set to start in early 2015, but progress so far has been slow. (VOA

Some 3,800 barrels of oil spilled in the Niger Delta recently, according to an investigation by Shell and government officials. It ranks as one of the worst in Nigeria for years, local environmental activists said. (VOA

Ninety-year-old Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe purged the deputy seen just months ago as his most likely successor, denouncing her before party loyalists as leader of a “treacherous cabal” bent on removing him from power. (Reuters

Women and girls in South Sudan are being attacked as they go about the most mundane daily activities, says the International Rescue Committee. (VOA

GlaxoSmitheKline (GSK) has opened a £4m grant initiative to researchers on non communicable diseases in Africa. (Guardian


More than three million people have fled the Syrian war to other countries in recent years and one of the most vulnerable groups among them are Palestinians, displaced already for generations by the Arab-Israeli conflict. Palestinians from Syria say, between legal restrictions and soaring rents, life is hard in Lebanon. (VOA

Forces allied to one of two rival governments vying for power in Libya conducted an air strike near Tripoli on Thursday, officials and residents said, part of an ongoing struggle since a group seized the capital and set up its own cabinet. (Reuters

Another Egyptian has died of H5N1 bird flu, bringing the total number of deaths in Egypt from the virus to seven this year out of 14 identified cases, the health ministry said. (Reuters


Ten Pakistani children have been infected with HIV after receiving tainted blood transfusions, officials said Thursday, in a “shocking” case highlighting the abysmal state of blood screening in the country. (AFP

Pakistan on Thursday confirmed that police have arrested several individuals from major cities for their alleged links to Daish, the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group or IS. (VOA

Panic-buying of food broke out in the central Philippines on Thursday and schools and government offices were shut, as provinces yet to recover from last year’s devastating super-typhoon Haiyan braced for another category 5 storm. (Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday Chinese President Xi Jinping had consolidated power faster than any Chinese leader in decades, raising human rights concerns and worrying China’s neighbors. (Reuters

With most foreign troops leaving Afghanistan by 31 December, there are fears that gains paid for in blood, sweat and billions of dollars of aid over 13 years may be undermined if the international community turns away and Taliban insurgents spread their footprint further across the country. (Guardian

The Americas

Thousands of demonstrators blocked streets, snarling New York City traffic into early Thursday morning, after a grand jury decided not to charge a white police officer for causing the death of an unarmed black man with a chokehold. (GlobalPost

Mexican federal troops will replace local police in 32 municipalities, a top security official said on Wednesday, in a bid to contain drug gangs that have fueled a surge in violence and often operate in league with local police. (Reuters

Four women who say they were sexually tortured as political prisoners following Chile’s 1973 military coup have filed a complaint they hope will bring to light dictatorship-era rapes that have been buried by fear, shame and silence. (AP

The Colombian government and Farc rebels have agreed to resume peace talks suspended over the abduction of an army general, mediators say. (BBC


What you need to know about the big issues on the table and the high stakes diplomacy at the Lima Climate Change Negotiations. If you have 15 minutes to listen to this podcast, you’ll understand what’s happening in Lima and why it matters.  (Global Dispatches Podcast

Is HIV Evolving Into A Weaker Virus? (Goats and Soda

Eric Garner, grand jury: How would we cover the decision not to indict a police officer if it happened in another country? (Slate

An Inclusive Emerging Economy, With Africa in the Lead (NY Times

Japan’s Misuse of Climate Funds for Dirty Coal Plants Exposed (IPS

If you read one paper on the post-2015 process, make it this one (From Poverty to Power

Rusty Radiator Awards: The “worst use of stereotypes” in advertising (This is Africa

Teasing Out Trends: The Smartphone Revolution (People, Spaces, Deliberation

Signs that something is seriously wrong in the global response to Ebola (Chris Blattman

Nutrition’s New Frontier: The Science of Scaling Up Nutrition (USAID Impact


A growing number of nations are increasingly censoring parts of the Internet and passing laws to allow for greater surveillance of what people do and say online, according to a new report issued by Freedom House. (VOA

Helen Clark: Video message to the Fourth Annual Rotary Forum

05 Dec 2014

“Reflections on the Role of NGOs and Civil Society Organisations in Development”

Thanks for the opportunity to address the Fourth Annual Rotary Forum hosted by the Rotary Club of Wellington. I’m sorry I cannot be present in person for this important discussion on the role of non-governmental organizations – an issue I am very familiar with through many years of interaction with NGOs while I was in public life in New Zealand, and now through my work at the UN Development Programme.

In my experience, relationships between authorities and NGOs work well when they are based on mutual respect. Where, however, NGOs are regarded narrowly as contracted service providers, and/or where their advocacy role is resented, NGOs will not be able to play their full role, and the public interest and communities will be the losers.

In some countries where UNDP works, local NGOs, or civil society organizations as we generally call them, are constrained in their activities – sometimes severely. UNDP’s global Civil Society Advisory Committee, drawn from organizations around the world, reports that the space for civil society is shrinking in a number of countries.

UNDP itself has a mandate to work to expand democratic governance and participation. Wherever possible, we support and encourage local organizations to articulate the needs of their constituencies, and to advocate for policy change and better services. The groups we work with are highly diverse – when I meet with civil society representatives in countries I visit, there will generally be present representatives of organizations of women and/or youth, the disabled, ethnic minorities, indigenous people, people advocating on HIV prevention and treatment, and open society, transparency, and human rights groups.

At the global level, the role of civil society is increasingly recognized as critical in achieving development goals. This has come to the fore in the current debate over what should replace the Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs) which run their course at the end of 2015.

The MDGs had their basis in the UN’s Millennium Declaration, which I signed in New York in September 2000 as New Zealand’s Prime Minister. They set global development priorities, and have been influential in getting faster progress towards universal primary schooling, lowering child and maternal death rates, turning the tide on HIV, malaria, and TB, and improving drinking water.

Much, however, remains to be done to meet basic development benchmarks, and there is a desire to have a more ambitious and transformational sustainable development agenda in place from 2016.

UNDP and other agencies in the UN development system have facilitated huge outreach to the global public on the new agenda. An online survey – MY World – asks people to list their priorities for the new agenda. More than five million people have responded – and health, education, and jobs have emerged as the most critical issues for them. Next in the list comes honest and responsive governance – which is so critical for getting sustained development results.

Last year UNDP backed 88 national consultations on the new global agenda. Big efforts were made to reach out widely and include the most marginalized groups – whose opinion isn’t generally sought at all.

In recent months we have held discussions with civil society organizations on the role they can play in moving development forward. In a global dialogue on this in October, there were three key conclusions:

  1. There is a need to move from engagement to empowerment of civil society, and ensure that civil society organisations are involved in policy formulation.
  2. There needs to be support for building the enabling environments which establish civil society as credible development actors – repressive laws, where they exist, stand in the way of that.
  3. Given the ambitious, emerging post-2015 development agenda, all partners, including civil society, need to align their efforts to ensure complementarity, avoid duplication, and maximize the use of scarce resources.

At UNDP, we are advocating for civil society to have:

  • a greater voice when policies are being designed;
  • a role in monitoring the implementation of policy and commitments;
  • capacity building for civil society organizations to play these roles; and
  • a data revolution – which will ensure more quality data and analysis, and easy access to it.

We believe that engaged and empowered communities and their organisations will be very influential in driving progress on global and national development goals.

The challenges are huge:

Poverty, for example, continues to be widespread despite tremendous progress in the past three decades. The number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped by many hundreds of millions in the past two decades. Yet still, next year, one billion people will be living on under $1.25 each a day. This poverty has many dimensions; it is compounded by a lack of access to basic services, and wherever dignity and rights are compromised by exclusion and discrimination.

Rising inequality is another of the main challenges. Seventy-five per cent of people living in developing countries live in societies where income is less equally distributed now than it was in the 1990s. Income inequalities are also compounded by inequality in opportunity and access to services, in decision-making, and in access to information and knowledge.

A third major challenge is environmental degradation – a number of our vital ecosystems are under serious strain. Extreme weather events are more frequent and more severe. Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2012, for example, was one of the greatest storms ever recorded, and caused significant loss of life and livelihoods.

In meeting all these challenges in developing countries, civil society has a big role to play – in advocating for effective solutions and in being part of the action. That applies to civil society in developing countries and to NGOs in developed countries which offer their support. Many organizations in this room have played their part – for example, the work of Rotary around the world on polio eradication is highly commendable.

Today’s event is considering how NGOs can survive and thrive. It will have drawn on the experiences of NGOs which deliver services, NGOs which advocate, and NGOs which do both. Some will struggle to be heard and to be funded. But, one thing is for sure, it is the mark of a democratic society that civil society voices can be heard, can engage, and can contribute.

I hope that this event will encourage all present to be innovative in developing new partnerships, both between NGOs and with various levels of government, with the objective of having the high quality services, quality of life, and citizen engagement which makes for a decent society.

Minister Paradis Highlights Canada’s Leadership in Providing Principled and Effective Humanitarian Assistance

At Canadian Humanitarian Conference, Minister Paradis speaks about Canada’s humanitarian assistance focused on protection, partnerships and innovation

December 4, 2014 – Ottawa, Ontario – Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Today, the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, delivered a keynote address at the Canadian Humanitarian Conference, which brings together a wide range of Canadian experts in humanitarian response.

“I am proud of Canada’s efforts to provide appropriate, timely, and effective humanitarian assistance that reaches those most in need,” said Minister Paradis. “We are regularly one of the first countries to respond with lifesaving assistance in the wake of natural disasters or other emergency situations in developing countries. Our humanitarian assistance, which relies on effective partnerships with the Canadian humanitarian community, has saved countless lives.”

In 2013, Canada contributed to humanitarian efforts in 54 countries, including Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Canada also responded to 25 natural disasters, including Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and heavy flooding in Laos, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica. Canada is actively engaged in the response to Ebola in West Africa, and continues to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq even while responding to the threat of ISIL.

Canada’s humanitarian assistance is provided based on need, reaching people in crisis situations who need our help the most and as quickly as possible. In light of the increased complexity of today’s crises, such as in Iraq, Syria and South Sudan, it is more important than ever that our assistance continues to be provided based on the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality. Further, effective humanitarian assistance relies on effective partnerships. For Canada, that means partnerships with multilateral and international organizations, and Canadian civil society.

In his keynote address, Minister Paradis announced a project that aims to enhance Canada’s response to humanitarian crises by strengthening collaboration between the humanitarian and private sectors. Focusing on partnerships and innovation, Canada is continuing to work to ensure the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance in the run-up to the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2016.

Quick Facts

  • More than 90 percent of those affected by natural disasters—earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, and volcanoes—live in developing countries.
  • The complex humanitarian situations that arise from civil war and conflict, most often characterized by widespread violence, a breakdown of law and authority, and massive population movements, also affect the world’s poorest countries disproportionately.

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Philippines: WFP Ready To Respond To Typhoon Hagupit [INFOGRAPHIC]

As Typhoon Hagupit, known locally as Ruby, is expected to make landfall in the Philippines this weekend, WFP has been closely monitoring the situation and stands ready to respond with immediate food assistance as well as logistics and telecommunications support to complement the government’s response, if required.  The infographic below provides an overview of the situation: 

Click here to download the infographic.

Expanding the Ranks of Qualified Disaster Risk Reduction Specialists

04 Dec 2014

imageA woman in a UNDP cash-for-work scheme clearing rubble in typhoon-affected Tacloban, Philippines

Lund, Sweden – Participants from across the UN System gather in Lund this week for an inter-agency training on better disaster risk reduction. In total, 24 participants from five UN agencies participated in the training, which was organized by Lund University and the Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative (CADRI).

CADRI, an inter-agency initiative comprised of six UN agencies, aims to strengthen technical capacities at regional and country-levels, and to foster coherence across UN programming. In addition to trainings for UN disaster risk reduction portfolio managers, CADRI enhances the skills and capabilities of Member States to plan and execute successful disaster risk reduction programmes.

“We simply do not have enough disaster risk reduction specialists globally”, explains UNDP’s Hachim Badji, the Coordinator of CADRI. “Never before has disaster risk reduction been so highly prioritized globally, both by governments as well as by the agencies that support them. However, implementing the concrete measures that protect people and communities can be a challenge. CADRI is all about working together and building that capacity across the UN system and across the globe.”

Over the course of the two-day workshop, participants were taught tried and tested best-practices in capacity development for disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness. The ultimate goal is to help them support countries to assess their capacities and establish proper frameworks for addressing gaps.

“This workshop familiarizes us with an inter-agency methodology developed through the CADRI partnership. My mind has been opened to many things I was not aware of, especially regarding all the necessary steps and the importance of the country-level process”, says Nicolas Wasunna, a Regional Emergency Specialist from the UNICEF Regional Office of Eastern and Southern Africa. “CADRI is a facilitator. The national plans of action that the CADRI member agencies produce, following an inter-agency process, help countries address DRR in a coherent manner”.

Matthew McIlvenna, from the World Food Programme Regional Bureau of East Africa, appreciates the joint, inter-agency nature of CADRI, and stresses that its value is in the fact that it brings the UN System together to work in a coherent manner. “CADRI is not an entity in itself, it is a partnership. But the best thing is that it supports a government-owned and government-led process.” Mcllvenna notes.

Together, the CADRI member agencies have developed a service package on DRR capacity assessments and programme planning. Thus far, the package has been rolled out in 20 priority countries.

Over the last decade, UNDP has expended US$ 1.7 billion helping partners to achieve the priorities of the Hyogo Framework for Action. For more information, read our impact report: Protecting Development from Disasters: UNDP’s support to the HFA.

EIB and Bhutan sign a Framework Agreement for capital investments

On Thursday 4 December, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union’s long-term financing institution and Kingdom of Bhutan signed a Framework Agreement under which the Bank can start financing capital investments in the country.

The agreement was signed by the EIB Vice-President with special responsibility for the Bank’s activities in Asia, Román Escolano and his Excellency Lyonpo Namgay Dorji, Finance Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan in Thimphu, capital of Bhutan.

The EIB is the long-term lending institution of the European Union and its shareholders are the EU Member States. Its remit is to make long-term finance available for viable projects in order to contribute towards EU policy objectives. Outside the EU, the Bank support projects that contribute to economic development in countries that have signed association or cooperation agreements with the EU or its Member States.

In Asia, the European Investment Bank has so far signed Framework Agreements with Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and Yemen.

The signing of the Framework Agreement represents the first step of the EIB to support development projects in Bhutan. EIB is cooperating closely with the European Commission and the EEAS, in support of the EU’s policy objectives in the country. In pursuing sustainable investments in Bhutan, the Kingdom of Bhutan and EIB already discussed potential projects in the country, namely in the areas of energy and water infrastructure.

The EIB has been active in Asia since 1993 under mandates granted by the EU Council and the European Parliament. During this period the EU bank has signed contracts in the region for a total of EUR 5.6 billion. On 1 July 2014 the EU’s new External Lending Mandate, covering the period 2014-2020, entered into force. Part of the current mandate is dedicated to Asia, enabling the EIB to finance operations that contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation or the development of sustainable economic infrastructure. Additionally, the EIB can also draw on its own resources under the Climate Action and Environment Facility or the Strategic Projects Facility to finance relevant projects on a selective basis.

Arms Control and International Security: Remarks at the Institute for Defence and Strategic Analyses

As prepared

Thank you very much, Ambassador Shankar, for that very kind introduction … and even more importantly, thank you for everything you have done to deepen the ties between the United States and India … during your tenure in Washington and afterwards.

Let me also thank General Dahiya, the Deputy Director General of the Institute, for inviting me here today, and Dr. Balachandran for organizing today’s event.

For nearly fifty years now, IDSA has provided excellent insight into critically important international trends. Your work is not only respected in India, but it’s also widely read and valued around the world.

It’s really a great pleasure, on a personal level, to be back in India. I’ve been privileged to visit many times over the course of my career and my life. My own family traces its roots to this country, and India’s vibrant culture and rich history certainly helped shape my own upbringing.

Indeed, I remember my grandmothers sharing with me the extraordinary events they witnessed during India’s independence struggle in the first half of the 20th century.

And if my grandparents could see the India of today… an India with strong democratic institutions… an India that charts its own course… and an India that works to uphold the dignity of all human beings… I know they would be proud of all it’s achieved, and of its promising future.

Just as India has grown and made tremendous progress, so, too, has the relationship between this great country and another great country… my country… the United States of America.

Over the course of my lifetime – and yours – we’d be hard-pressed to find a more exciting time in our bilateral relations.

The historic elections last spring, which brought a record 530 million Indians to the polls… about 8 percent of the world’s population… conferred an unprecedented mandate on Prime Minister Modi… and created an historic opportunity for the United States and India to re-energize our relationship.

And today, we are engaged on more issues, more frequently, at more levels of government than ever before. Just in the past six months, India has been one of the top destinations for senior U.S. government officials, demonstrating the importance of the United States’ relationship with India.

Secretary Kerry led the Strategic Dialogue here in July, and was joined by Secretary of Commerce Pritzker. Secretary Hagel visited India in August. My colleagues Mike Froman, Charlie Rivkin, and Rick Stengel, all senior officials, were here just a few weeks ago to discuss our economic ties, and the just-concluded India-U.S. Technology Summit was by far the largest ever held in India. Rose Gottemoeller was here last month to co-chair the U.S.-India Strategic Security Dialogue, and tomorrow I will lead the U.S. delegation to the Political-Military Dialogue, where we will meet with senior officials from the External Affairs and Defense Ministries. I am joined by a team that includes Deputy Assistant Secretaries Ken Handelman and Atul Keshap, from the State Department, Keith Webster from the Defense Department, and Matt Matthews from the US Pacific Command.

Sometimes I think it would be easier to name the US officials that haven’t recently visited India.

Above and beyond the continued expansion of our strategic partnership, Prime Minister Modi has taken the unprecedented step of inviting a U.S. president to be the chief guest at the first Republic Day of his administration. President Obama is deeply honored to accept the invitation and to return to India in January. Not only will this mark the first time an American president will attend Republic Day, but it also marks the first time an American president will have visited India twice during his presidency.


Many Indian officials have also traveled recently to the United States, including, of course, Prime Minister Modi, who had a very successful trip just a few months ago.

When Prime Minister Modi visited Washington, President Obama hosted him at the White House, and following their meetings, they paid a visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

It was fitting for these two leaders to go to that moving memorial, because of course Dr. King drew deep inspiration from India’s own Mahatma Gandhi.

Those of you who have been to Washington will know that as you walk along the Martin Luther King Memorial, you can read some of Dr. King’s most poignant messages, etched in stone along the wall for future generations to see.

One of these quotes that President Obama and Prime Minister Modi were able to see, I think captures why the growing partnership between the United States and India is so important in the 21st century.

Over fifty years ago, at a dark time for civil rights in the United States, Dr. King delivered an uplifting message of hope. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness,” he said. “Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

In so many areas around the world, India has a vital, positive, uplifting role to play – in South Asia, in the Indo-Pacific, and increasingly, on the world stage. India’s rise as a regional and global leader, and its economic and strategic growth, are deeply in the U.S. interest.

Prime Minister Modi has pointed out that he does not only see our relations in terms of the benefits it brings to the Indian people or the American people. That is self-evident. The true power and potential of this partnership, he said, is that when our two countries come together, the world will benefit.

At this time of great promise and possibility in this relationship, I’d like to speak today about our defense ties, and why a closer U.S.-India defense relationship is in both our nations’ – and the world’s – interest. We believe there is especially strong potential in the U.S.-India defense relationship, which we want to translate into action.

Since the signing of our bilateral defense framework in 2005, our defense relationship has become a central pillar of our strategic partnership. And when Prime Minister Modi visited Washington, he and President Obama welcomed the decision to renew the 2005 Framework, and they agreed to reinvigorate the Political-Military Dialogue that we will convene tomorrow.

Together with India, we are proud to hold more than 50 annual military exercises among all the services to train our troops and to encourage them to work together.

In the most recent MALABAR exercise in July… our largest bilateral naval exercise… Japan’s navy joined India and the United States to conduct exercises in the Northwest Pacific. Previously, MALABAR has featured the Australian and Singaporean navies, and we continue to look for opportunities to train and conduct exercises with our many partners in the region.

India has also been a leader in global counter-piracy efforts. Let’s not forget that in 2011, piracy was wreaking havoc on international trade off the Horn of Africa. The number of attacks peaked at 237, with 28 of those attacks resulting in vessel hijackings and sailors held hostage for ransom.

But today, thanks to a concerted international effort, including leadership from India in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, there has been no successful raid against a commercial ship in that region in over two years.

India has also taken great strides to secure waterways and trade routes on the other side of the sub-continent, in the Bay of Bengal.

And going forward, we will continue to remain vigilant against the threat of piracy.

India has shouldered a global responsibility not only on maritime security, but also in peacekeeping. In fact, over the past six decades, India has been one of the top troop contributors for global peacekeeping operations. I know Indian peacekeepers have courageously made sacrifices for their missions… and some have made the ultimate sacrifice. India’s contributions to international peacekeeping efforts can serve as an example for many other nations around the world.

As we look to deepen our peacekeeping cooperation, we are also building the ties between our professional military personnel through educational exchange. We are proud that many of the senior leaders in all services of the Indian military have studied in the United States, including 2 out of 3 of the current service chiefs.

Already, more than 100,000 Indians study at American universities each year. And through our International Military Education and Training program, we look forward to broadening our military-to-military interactions… not only at the leader-to-leader level, but also at the student-to-student level.

Because even while India is one of the world’s oldest civilizations, it has the world’s most young people, with a median age of 27 and 600 million people under the age of 25… making education of this group a top Indian priority and these people-to-people ties all the more important to our shared future. That’s why, going forward, as India establishes its National Defense University, we look forward to building bridges between that institution and the U.S. National Defense University.

Another area where we have made tremendous progress is in defense trade. Since 2008, our bilateral defense trade has grown from near-zero to nearly $10 billion.

The benefits of our defense trade have extended far beyond each of our borders. For example, India used C-130Js and C-17 transport aircraft to respond to floods and landslides in India and Nepal. You’ve used U.S.-made equipment to provide typhoon relief in the Philippines, to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, and to resupply your peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

Going forward, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi have reaffirmed our strategic commitment to pursue opportunities for defense co-development and co-production that take our defense relationship to the next level.

To us, our defense relationship with India is not transactional; it is an investment in our future together. We want to move beyond a buyer-seller relationship, towards one of co-development and co-production, where both our nations will benefit.

One of the ways we’re doing that is by modernizing our defense exports licensing system. Over the past seven years, the average time to process a license for India has dropped almost 40 percent. And it’s important to emphasize that less than 1 percent of licenses destined for India are denied, a figure that is on par or better than many of our closest partners.

We remain committed to maintaining a transparent and predictable process, even as we find creative ways for our systems to work more harmoniously. That’s why we continue to support the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative, or DTTI, which will reduce bureaucratic burdens and expedite technology-sharing and research. We also believe that DTTI, through its emphasis on co-production and co-development, only complements Prime Minister Modi’s “Make in India” initiative. Yesterday I was in Hyderabad, where I was able to see firsthand the remarkable potential in this area. We hope to see more partnerships take hold, like those between Lockheed Martin and TATA to build C-130 components, and Sikorsky and TATA to build cabins for S-92 helicopters.

We have been discussing more than a dozen co-production and co-development projects with India, and we hope to move on some of these going forward. Still, let’s not forget that our work is unfinished. We need to work together to make defense trade easier. We should do this because of the tremendous security benefits that strengthening our defense ties brings to our people, to this region, and to the world.


But it’s not just about security. It’s also about the economy, and let me focus on that for a moment.

Growing our defense trade helps our companies’ bottom lines… it helps create better jobs on the assembly lines… and most importantly, it gets the best equipment and protection to our troops on the front lines.

But in addition to the clear benefits that defense trade brings to both our countries in terms of good-paying jobs… it’s important to remember that it’s security that underpins global trade and commerce. As Secretary Kerry has said many times over the past few years, “More than ever, foreign policy is economic policy.”

Look, for example, at the Indo-Pacific region. For India, over half of your trade passes through the Strait of Malacca. India, like the United States, has important trade interests all along the Pacific and Indian oceans. And Prime Minister Modi’s “Act East” policy – just like President Obama’s rebalance to Asia – is rooted in the leading economic role that the Asia-Pacific is already playing in this century and beyond. Our interests in the region, and our policies towards the region, have never been more complementary.

That’s why both of our countries have such an important stake in maritime security. It’s why we share a deep interest in a peaceful, rules-based order in the Asia-Pacific. It’s why, as President Obama and Prime Minister Modi outlined both in Washington and at the East Asia Summit in Burma, we believe in freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea. We share a vision where all parties pursue resolution of their territorial and maritime disputes through peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Securing these sea lanes peacefully is crucial to ensuring that international commerce can continue to flow without disruption.


This is a time of great possibility; of great excitement; and of great importance for the United States and India. We’re seeing a natural convergence not only of our values… not only of our interests… but also of our vision for the way forward… in the Indo-Pacific and the world at large.

By working together, by translating those common interests into common efforts, we will bring more security and economic prosperity, not only to our citizens, but to people all over the world.

Thank you very much.