Press Releases: Briefing on President Obama's FY 2016 Budget Request

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: Good afternoon, everyone. As you know, earlier today, President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2016 Budget, and I’m pleased to be joined here today by Administrator Raj Shah to discuss the 2016 budget request for USAID and the State Department and to take a few of your questions.

I just want to note that this is actually Raj’s last budget rollout. As I’m sure you know, in just a couple of weeks he’ll be moving on. And I just wanted to briefly take this opportunity to thank Raj for his service. He has been a really effective and dynamic leader at USAID. He has pushed forward innovative efforts like Feed the Future and Power Africa. He’s galvanized our response to unexpected crises like the Haiti earthquake and the Ebola outbreak, and we’re really going to miss you.

Two weeks ago, in his State of the Union Address, President Obama said, “If there’s one thing this new century has taught us, it’s that we cannot separate our work at home from the challenges beyond our shores.” That fact is deeply understood by Senator – Secretary Kerry and the men and women of State and USAID. We see it in action every day. And our FY ‘16 budget request makes critical investments in diplomacy and development that will secure peace and stability for the American people, strengthen the U.S. economy and global markets, and support U.S. citizens and our diplomatic and development presence overseas.

So first, the top lines. The State and USAID budget request totals $50.3 billion, which is roughly 1 percent of the federal budget. Our base budget request is $43.2 billion. This will allow us to address ongoing and emerging national security challenges, carry out our global diplomatic and development mission, advance the President’s signature policy and development initiatives, honor our security commitments to allies and partners, and carry out conflict prevention, nonproliferation, and peacekeeping activities around the world. We’ve also requested $7 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds to respond to immediate and extraordinary national security requirements. OCO funds will support critical programs and operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, as well as exceptional costs related to our efforts to fight ISIL, respond to the conflict in Syria, and support Ukraine.

So let me just highlight a few of the key investments that we’re making or propose to make in the next year. As Vice President Biden penned in an op-ed last week, our budget invests $1 billion in Central America. These funds will address the underlying social, governance, and economic factors in Central America that drove last year’s crisis in unaccompanied migration – child migration, while helping Mexico secure its southern border. Our goal is to partner with our neighbors in Central America to mitigate these underlying factors before their youth risk the dangerous journey north and arrive at our border.

For Afghanistan, our request includes $1.5 billion in assistance, which will support the Afghan unity government as it strives to implement key reforms, improve its economy, and work with us on shared security issues. Our budget request also provides $963 million to secure and support embassy operations, including $125 million to harden Embassy Kabul, all of which will enable a significant reduction in our military presence. With a new, reform-minded Afghan Government in place, we have the opportunity to solidify the progress we have made in Afghanistan over the last decade. Our request continues the security, economic, and civilian programs necessary to do so.

As part of the Administration’s collaboration with coalition partners to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, our request includes $3.5 billion to strengthen regional partners, provide humanitarian assistance, and strengthen Syria’s moderate opposition to advance the conditions for a negotiated political transition. The request also includes an additional $1.1 billion to support diplomatic engagement with Iraq to sustain our strategic partnership.

Last year at West Point, President Obama announced the creation of a Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund that will enable us to train, build capacity, and help facilitate partner countries on the front lines against terrorism. Our request includes $390 million to support the CTPF through security and stabilization assistance and through efforts to counter violent extremism and terrorist ideology.

Our budget also includes vital support for Ukraine to counter Russian pressure and aggressive actions. This includes $275 million to support an additional loan guarantee of up to $1 billion if Ukraine continues to make progress on its IMF program and if other conditions warrant. Our request also provides support for democracy and anti-corruption measures, European integration, energy security, and public diplomacy strategies to counter Russian propaganda throughout Europe and Central Asia.

The request also provides over $5 billion for international organizations and peacekeeping efforts. These funds strengthen our strategic relationships across the globe and enable us to advance global security while sharing the burden with other nations. Our assessed contribution supports 17 UN peacekeeping missions in Africa and the Middle East and satisfy U.S. obligations to the UN and 44 other organizations.

At the same time, our request will address urgent and growing humanitarian needs around the world. We are now facing four large-scale crises in Syria, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Iraq. To address this unprecedented challenge, we are seeking a total of $5.6 billion in humanitarian funding.

Shifting gears a bit, we’re investing over $800 million in clean energy, sustainable landscapes, and adaptation through the Global Climate Change Initiative. This includes $350 million of a State Department contribution to the Green Climate Fund, a new multilateral fund that will help developing countries gain access to public and private finance to invest in reducing carbon pollution and strengthening resilience to climate change.

Secretary Kerry firmly believes that our people, the State Department and USAID personnel, are our greatest resource, and this budget makes significant investments in the people and platforms who make all of this work possible. The budget includes $6.9 billion to support State and USAID personnel and operations around the world. These funds sustain our relations with foreign governments and international organizations, the work of our development experts here in Washington and abroad, and vital overseas services to U.S. citizens and businesses.

In order for our diplomats and development professionals to do their work, they must be safe and secure. Secretary Kerry is committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that they are. Our request includes $4.8 billion for worldwide security protection to support key security requirements such as protection of diplomatic personnel and new infrastructure such as the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center.

Within the Embassy Security, Construction and Maintenance Account, the budget includes $1.4 billion for worldwide security upgrades which include support for the Capital Security and Maintenance Cost-Sharing Programs and construction, maintenance, and security upgrades for diplomatic facilities as recommended by the Benghazi Accountability Review Board.

The fact remains that American leadership is needed now more than ever, but our global leadership and our leverage depends on our resources. Our budget request reflects what is needed to ensure that the United States remains powerfully engaged on the myriad issues that directly impact the security, prosperity, and values of the American people. We look forward to working with Congress to secure funding for these important priorities in the coming months.

And with that, I will turn it over to Raj to talk about our development assistance request.

ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Thank you. Good afternoon, and thank you, Heather. I appreciate your kind comments and your incredible leadership on behalf of ensuring that State and AID have the resources required to carry forth President Obama and Secretary Kerry’s strong commitment to American leadership around the world.

Heather likes to point out – and she’s right – that most Americans think our collective budget is greater than 20 percent of the federal budget, and in fact it’s somewhat smaller than that, clocking in at just under 1 percent.

I’d also like to thank the leadership of President Obama and Secretary Kerry and bipartisan members, Democrats and Republicans, in both houses in Congress that have relatively strongly supported USAID and our country’s development and humanitarian missions around the world. In fact, 2015 is an important year for our collective partnership to address extreme poverty and promote resilient democratic societies, often in the most difficult parts of our world. But no matter where we work across the globe, the men and women of the State Department and USAID work on behalf of the American people. And the modest yet critical investments we make in improving the quality of life for the world’s most fortunate, in fact, contribute directly to American strength, security, trade, and prosperity.

And above all, over the last years we have refocused our investments to make sure that we’re doing our work in a way where, over time, our aid and assistance is no longer necessary, where self-sufficiency can replace the need for outside assistance. The President’s budget request this year includes $22.3 billion that USAID will manage or partly manage. These critical resources allow us to advance our country’s interests in a far-ranging set of contexts. By leveraging public-private partnerships and harnessing the power of technology, science, and innovation, we’re now able to deliver clear, focused, and measurable results with these resources.

Since 2010, USAID missions have reduced the number of programs and program areas in which we’ve worked from nearly 800 in total around the world to just over 500 today, or a reduction of greater than 35 percent. This has meant that our Global Health Program, for example, has been phased out of 23 countries. Our agriculture support programs have been phased out 25 countries. And as a result, we’re able to deliver better resources where we concentrate our investments and our efforts.

Today, all of our major programs are independently evaluated by third-party evaluators, and the results of those evaluations – which are often important but not the most exciting documents to read – are available on an iPhone app, an unprecedented level of transparency.

When I started five years ago, just 8 percent of USAID’s global investment focused on public-private partnerships. Today, it’s about 40 percent and the 2016 budget request will take that number to 46 percent. Nowhere has this focus on delivering real, measurable results been more significant than in our work in global health. The foreign assistance budget includes $8.2 billion for funding for global health, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, child and maternal survival, and a broad range of programs that tackle neglected tropical diseases, including Ebola.

These resources underscore our commitment to helping to realize the goal of ensuring that every child survives until the age of five and thrives beyond that timeframe. To achieve this goal, we’ve already narrowed our focus of investment in our Child Survival program to 24 countries that account for 70 percent of under-five child deaths and maternal deaths. As a result, in the past two years alone in those countries, we’ve delivered an 8 percent reduction in child mortality, more than doubling the baseline rate of reduction in child deaths.

We saw the power of this approach at work last week as the United States committed more than $1 billion over four years to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization in order to immunize 300 million children and save at least 5 million child lives by 2020.

Another notable example of this new model is President Obama’s commitment to Africa, and specifically Power Africa. This year’s budget includes $134 million in resources to take that initiative forward. And as President Obama reset the goal for that initiative this past summer in this building at the African Leadership Summit, those resources will help us bring tens of billions of dollars of private investment to the African power sector in the hopes of connecting 60 million homes and businesses to clean, renewable, affordable power.

This budget request includes $1.02 billion devoted to the Feed the Future Initiative, President Obama’s signature global food security effort. The State/AID-managed portion of that will be $978 million. In 2013 alone, these investments, in addition to bringing more than 70 companies to co-invest with us in countries around the world, has directly helped more than 7 million farm households move out of poverty and improved nutrition for more than 12 million children who otherwise would go hungry – not by giving out food, but by helping their families stand on their own two feet.

Since 2014, the President’s budget has included attempts to ensure that we reach more hungry people, particularly at their greatest hour of need, by restructuring America’s 60-year-old food assistance program, Food for Peace. We look forward to working with Congress to get that done on a bipartisan basis this year. In doing so, we hope to renew the unique policy partnership between America’s food producers, shippers, humanitarians, and the world’s children who suffer through crisis. And this is important this year because smart, results-oriented humanitarian assistance is needed now more than ever.

Last year was the first time in our agency’s 53-year history that we were called to respond simultaneously to four large-scale emergencies around the world, not including the Ebola epidemic. In Syria, we’ve supported more than 300 field hospitals, clinics, and medical points that have saved countless lives. In the Philippines, we’ve reached nearly 3 million people with emergency assistance in the wake of typhoons. And in West Africa, we’ve cut down dramatically on the number of new cases of Ebola from more than 100 a day in Liberia when our efforts started to less than 1 per day over the course of the last week in Liberia.

Using the $2.5 billion appropriated to State and AID for the FY 15 Ebola Response and Preparedness Fund, the budget presented today requests – includes resources for USAID’s Global Health Security Program to work alongside a range of countries to make sure that threats like Ebola do not emerge again.

But even as we respond to these crises, we know it’s critical to support civil society and human rights around the world. That’s why this budget will provide $2.4 billion for democracy, human rights, and governance programs, some of which Heather has already spoken about. And in addition, this budget will include nearly $200 million in central funding for science, technology, and innovation through the U.S. Global Development Lab. The lab has already delivered extraordinary results, most notably redesigning the personal protective equipment that Ebola responders use in West Africa to keep themselves safe, building data systems to help us tackle Ebola cheaper, faster, and more effectively than anyone thought possible. And those types of results can be replicated across the broad range of what we do if Congress continues to provide strong bipartisan support for the United States Global Development Lab.

Finally, and echoing Heather’s comments, with $1.7 billion in USAID administrative expenses, this budget allows us to invest in our most important resource: our staff. This request represents just 7 percent of our total programmatic responsibilities, and we urge Congress to fully fund our operating expenses.

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to taking questions.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. We have time for a few questions. Matt, do you want to lead off?

QUESTION: Yeah, because I – every year I have the same question, because these figures that you guys provide don’t match up with the figures that are put out by the CBO, at least in the historical page. And I’m wondering – if you can’t answer these questions right now, maybe someone can get back to me on them. According to the CBO, the historical page, in 2015 the budget authority – total budget authority for Function 150 was $62.12 billion. And this year it’s 46.476 billion, which would be a reduction of 25 percent. And I’m wondering what’s getting cut in this budget.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: So we’ll let our budget experts go through the tables with you, but our request overall for State and AID and the 150 account includes other agencies, such as Treasury and some others that have international affairs activities, is a 6 percent increase over our FY 15 request.

I can’t speak to the specifics on your table, but we’ll make sure you get an answer right after this.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, can you – off the top of your head in terms of highlights of things that are being cut, what are they?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: Overall, our budget request is increasing.

QUESTION: Well – so nothing’s being cut?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: No, there are some cuts here and there in the budget, but overall the numbers are going up because there are more and vast crises that we’re dealing with. For example, even though we maintain a robust investment in our Pakistan assistance, that’s come down by a small amount – about 10 percent – over last year based on what we think the needs are and what we think – what we assess the capabilities are. We have a level funding for Iraq at this point. We have level funding levels in many, many programs and increases where we think we need them.

So we can get into the specifics of where there are cuts and walk through the table with you if you’d like.

QUESTION: Okay, thanks.

QUESTION: I’m —

MR. RATHKE: Okay, Arshad.

QUESTION: Two similar ones, if I may. One is that the CBJ summary tables have blanks for just about all the FY 2015 estimates.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: Mm-hmm, yes.

QUESTION: I’m guessing that that’s because of the cromnibus and you haven’t had time to crunch the numbers?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: The issue with specific allocations for programs and at the country level – there’s a process that after we get an appropriation, we work through regular order every year with our appropriators to decide on the allocations in that level of detail. So that process is happening at the moment.

QUESTION: Sure. And will we not get that breakdown until – when do you expect to have that breakdown available? Or because it depends on Congress, you don’t really know?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: I would say in the spring.

QUESTION: Yeah.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: That’s when the process kind of – it takes quite a while to go back and forth on the programming in country level.

QUESTION: And then I have two kind of granular questions you may not be able to answer.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: More granular than that? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yes. Yeah, much. So I noticed that the economic support funds for Egypt are budgeted at 150 million for FY 2016; it’s a blank for FY 2015 because you don’t have that yet; and it was 200 million in FY 2014, the actual. And as you know, for many, many years it was like 250 or 255 million, I think. What explains the decision to ask for less for FY 2016 than you had in 2014? Do you believe that the Egyptian Government is just not making progress and you don’t want to support them, or —

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: No, it’s a good question. We do know, from our engagement with Congress and over the ’15 appropriation and our discussions with them, that they intend the FY15 level for ESF to be about 150 million, and so in working with them with this request and thinking about where we can go moving forward on Egypt assistance, we’ve settled at that level.

QUESTION: Okay. And then last one – and again, somewhat obscure – but I see that you have IMET funding for Thailand, but of course Thailand had a coup. And I wonder why you’re programming IMET funding for Thailand for FY16, given the coup.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: We’ll have to get back to you on that one.

QUESTION: Okay.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: Thank you.

MR. RATHKE: Do you have – yes.

QUESTION: Yes, I’m Mounzer Onsur with (inaudible). I would like to ask highlights on Western Hemisphere. I heard that the 1 billion for Central America. But I would like more details. For instance, Merida Initiative, 1 billion – that 1 billion includes part of Merida Initiative, or is only for —

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: No, the $1 billion for Central America is just for —

QUESTION: Only, none for Mexico?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: Yeah, that’s correct. The – in the Central America response to the migration – child migration crisis, we have included $120 million specifically for Mexico, for the southern border, but that’s separate from the billion. Our funding levels are pretty consistent with last year’s request for the Western Hemisphere with the exception of the Central American region.

QUESTION: Could you please talk about Merida Initiative, Plan Colombia?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: Colombia’s about the same level. It’s a slight decrease based on our assessment of the increased capacity of the Colombian Government to take on some of those activities. And I don’t have the Merida number with me, I’m sorry. We’ll follow up with you right after this.

QUESTION: How about the human rights program for Cuba? Any change?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: The Cuba funding is very similar to last year. It is $20 million in democracy planning for Cuba. I don’t know, Raj, you can jump in. The only difference in our funding request vis-a-vis Cuba is that we ask for $6.6 million to do some operational upgrades at our facilities there.

QUESTION: On Venezuela, the democracy program for Venezuela?

ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: I don’t have the numbers, but we can follow up with you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: We’ll get them for you.

QUESTION: Please, yes. Thanks.

QUESTION: Just the – a clarification on the Western Hemisphere and Colombia. I thought you had asked for more money for Colombia. In the first time in this Administration, there’s a slight increase, not a decrease.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: I think that there’s – I’m pretty sure there’s a slight decrease in Colombia, but we’ll make sure you have the right numbers.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. RATHKE: VOA?

QUESTION: Could you focus a little bit more on the priorities for Asia, please? I didn’t see any mention on Asia.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: Sorry. I’m glad you raised that question. We have an increase in – of 8 percent for the Asian region vis-a-vis our FY – vis-a-vis FY14 appropriations. The same issue regarding ’15 is still relevant in that we can’t compare to ’15 without the allocations that we’re going through with Congress. But over the FY14 appropriation, there’s – we propose an 8 percent increase.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Yes, (inaudible).

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, could you talk about why, as the pivot is a priority of this Administration, why Asia Pacific is not mentioned in your fact sheet and highlights?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: Well, it is – when you look at the budget overall and what we’ve prioritized increases for and where we’ve had to keep things level, and even some of the places we’ve had to cut, it’s clear that the Asia Pacific remains a key priority for us because of the level of increase. There’s – we can speak to the specifics of a fact sheet, but the numbers really tell the story, and that’s a trajectory that has increased in our budgets consistently over the past few years.

QUESTION: Specifically, where does the 8 percent goes to?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: All the details of that are in the congressional justification on our website, and in the call that you’ll have afterwards with folks. They can get into that level of detail with you.

MR. RATHKE: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Can you get into a bit more detail about the 3.5 billion for anti-ISIS/ISIL operations?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: Sure. So the number includes the work that we’re doing to counter ISIL with Iraq and our partners in the region, to deal with the Syria humanitarian crisis, and to stabilize that region and ensure that there is the ability to work against that. So there’s security assistance training, et cetera, the humanitarian costs, the – Lebanon, Jordan, other partners in the region that are taking a lot of the responsibility for the crisis there.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. We have time for just a couple more. Go ahead in the back.

QUESTION: Hi. Can you tell us what is the budget request for Afghanistan and Pakistan individually, and how much of that will go to security and economic assistance?

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: Good question. So – I’m flipping here, sorry – the Afghanistan request is $1.5 billion for assistance, as I said in the opening. And I have the breakdown here. $1.2 million[1] is in security and the rest is in – excuse me, $1.2 billion[2] is in security and the rest is in civilian assistance. Although is this —

ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Yeah, the —

PARTICIPANT: So the total amount of the request for Afghanistan is $2.5 billion and that includes —

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: But that includes our operations, our platform.

PARTICIPANT: Correct.

DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM: You asked about assistance, right? Yeah. So 1.5 is the number for assistance.

For Pakistan, the assistance number is 804 million. There’s 534 million in civilian and 270 million in security.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thanks very much, everyone.


[1] $1.2 million in security assistance to complement Department of Defense efforts.

[2] $1.2 billion is a misspeak. The speaker is referencing $1.2 million in security assistance to complement Department of Defense efforts.

Helen Clark: Statement to the First Regular Session of the UNDP Executive Board

26 Jan 2015

Mr. President,
Members of the Executive Board,
Colleagues and friends,

I welcome all present to this first regular session of the UNDP Executive Board for 2015.

Let me begin by congratulating H.E. Mr. Fernando Carrera, Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the UN, on his election as President of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board.

I also congratulate the new Vice-Presidents on their election: for the group of African States, H.E. Mr. Kelebone Maope, Permanent Representative of Lesotho; for the Asia-Pacific group, H.E. Mr. Durga Prasad Bhattarai, Permanent Representative of Nepal; for the group of Western Europe and other States, H.E. Mr. Hiroshi Minami, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan; and for the Eastern European States group, Mr. Sahak Sargsyan, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of Armenia.

Allow me also to thank most sincerely H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations and the outgoing President of the Executive Board for his committed leadership of the Board in 2014.

As well, my thanks go to last year’s Vice-Presidents for their valuable support – H.E. Mr. Tuvako Nathaniel Manongi of the United Republic of Tanzania, Mr. Jonathan Viera of Ecuador, Mr. Boyan Belev of Bulgaria, and Mr. Vincent Herlihy of Ireland.

Today I also welcome Magdy Martinez-Soliman, Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS), and Izumi Nakamitsu, Director of the Crisis Response Unit (CRU), to their first meeting of the Executive Board as Assistant Secretary Generals.

At UNDP, we see 2015 as a huge opportunity to advance the global sustainable development agenda.

The MDGs run their course at the end of the year, and UN Member States are due to agree in September on the Sustainable Development Goals which will guide global development priorities for the next fifteen years.

Alongside this are other critical processes and events: the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in March, in Sendai, Japan; the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in July in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and the UN climate change conference in Paris, France, in December.

The combined outcomes of these major processes are a once in a generation opportunity to set a transformational global agenda for sustainable development.

In my statement today:

– I will update the Board on UNDP’s efforts in response to current crises around the world, and on our support for the important global development discussions taking place this year;

– I will report on the implementation of UNDP’s Strategic Plan and our efforts to make the organization ever more focused, results-driven, effective, and efficient; and

– I will introduce the paper on UNDP’s engagement in direct budget support; reiterate our commitment to transparency and accountability; and comment on the current priorities of the UN Development Group.

Tackling crises and building resilience

2014 saw tremendous volatility and turmoil around the world. In September I briefed you on UNDP’s work in response to many current crises. Through our work on early recovery we aim to support countries to move from the relief phase to recovery as quickly as possible.

Almost four years into the crisis in Syria, nearly 200,000 people have been killed, close to seven million are internally displaced, and more than three million have fled to neighboring countries. The fighting has drastically rolled back the country’s human development and pushed over three-quarters of the population into poverty – 4.4 million people are estimated to be living in extreme poverty.

UNDP’s work in Syria takes place in the context of the Syria Strategic Response Plan, and offers emergency livelihood and other support with a focus on the most vulnerable, including female-headed households and people with disabilities.

Host communities in neighboring countries have struggled to cope with very large numbers of refugees. I witnessed the pressure last September, during my visit to Lebanon with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres. We visited joint UNDP-UNHCR initiatives designed to help the local economy and create jobs, and we are both strong advocates for support for the neighbouring countries.

UNDP is involved in similar work in Jordan, which, like Lebanon, has one of the highest numbers of refugees per capita in the world; in Iraq, which faces a complex overlap of refugee and internally displaced people crises; and in Turkey and Egypt which also host large numbers of Syrian refugees.

We urge all our partners to put their full weight behind the Syria Strategic Response Plan for 2015 and the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) which were launched in Berlin in December.

UNDP remains heavily engaged in Central African Republic’s efforts to move forward from profound crisis. Examples of our work include electoral assistance and support for inclusive political dialogue; and joint work with MINUSCA, the peacekeeping mission, to fight impunity and maintain basic law and order, including through assistance to the government’s Special Investigations Unit and to the Special Criminal Court.

The situation in South Sudan continues to be very challenging. Our work with the National Platform for Peace and Reconciliation and other partners aims to expand the space for grassroots-level dialogue aimed at fostering peace and reconciliation, complementing the official peace talks at the leadership level.

We are working with the UN peacekeeping mission to begin the slow process of re-establishing law and order and building trust, through programmes such as community policing and emergency call centers. As well, as part of an early recovery pilot for Internally Displaced Persons, we support emergency employment and entrepreneurship training, and have financed the building of small stalls and sheds in markets to help small traders get established. Our support for strengthening the justice sector and core governance functions has continued, including through the IGAD knowledge and skills transfer initiative which has resulted in around 200 civil servants from neighbouring countries working in South Sudan government bodies to build and supplement capacity.

In Mali, we work with MINUSMA to support state authority in the North, including through rebuilding public infrastructure, such as courthouses and administrative offices, and training police and justice and corrections officials. UNDP has also helped establish the Mali Climate Fund, which will fund disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation at the local level.

In Ukraine, work with IDPs and communities directly affected by the crisis has been at the center of our response. We work closely with UN partners to facilitate humanitarian and early recovery support. Together with the European Union and the World Bank, we have recently prepared a Recovery and Peacebuilding Assessment in Donbas region which defines priority needs, including infrastructure rehabilitation, recovery of basic social services, and community reconciliation in areas controlled by the Government of Ukraine. We are also working closely with the Government in Kiev to support their medium- and long term reform agenda.

UNDP has been working in Yemen on constitutional development, national dialogue, support to the electoral commission, and, in the South, on transitional justice. Local governance and poverty reduction also feature in our work, including through an innovative youth employment programme. The crisis in Yemen has deepened very recently. We very much hope that there can be a return to political dialogue around the country’s future, and are at the service of Yemenis to help in any way we can.

The catastrophic impact of Ebola on Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, is now well known. More than 8,600 lives are estimated to have been lost, and close to 22,000 people have been infected. Women have been infected disproportionately. It is encouraging, however, to see that case incidence continued to fall in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone during the last reporting period (the week ending 23 January).

I will brief you in more detail on UNDP’s Ebola response at our High Level Event on Ebola Recovery on Thursday. We have played a full part in the efforts to stop the outbreak, and are the designated lead for the UN system on supporting recovery from the Ebola crisis. In parallel with the continued response to the health emergency aimed at “getting to zero” infections, this is also the time for planning how to build back better.

Our efforts in response to all crises – whether caused by war and conflict, natural disaster, deadly disease outbreak, or any other factor – always aim to build the foundations for development, and build resilience to future events.

This approach has proven its worth time and time again. A good example is the Philippines, where, following the destructive Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), UNDP worked closely with the authorities and development partners to strengthen national preparedness for and resilience to disasters.

Our joint efforts contributed to the Philippines Government’s impressive preparations for Typhoon Hagupit last December –from which there was a low death toll. Any death from a disaster is a tragedy, and all possible efforts must continue to be made to save lives and communities.

Mozambique and Malawi, have experienced appalling flooding this month. UNDP is supporting national counterparts with early recovery, and is working with OCHA to co-ordinate the work of the two UN Country Teams to provide effective relief. These efforts build on our many experiences with disaster response and recovery, including in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia just last year in the aftermath of devastating floods.

2015 – A Critical Year for Global Action on Development

International processes this year are scheduled to produce agreements on the post-2015 agenda; a new framework for disaster risk reduction; financing for development; and on tackling climate change.

The outcomes of each of these processes will be more powerful if there are synergies between them. It is widely accepted that eradicating poverty, building resilience, and reducing carbon emissions must go hand and hand. I urge all Member States to take a whole-of-government approach to all of these negotiations to get mutually reinforcing outcomes from them.

In March, at the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Sendai, Japan, Member States are due to agree on a new framework for disaster risk reduction to succeed the Hyogo Framework for Action. The new Framework needs to be even more ambitious, actionable, and suited to the needs of countries. At UNDP we believe it is critical that it recognizes the central importance of risk governance and management, and the need to build that into the operations of governments at all levels.

The outcome of Sendai should assist Governments in making the linkages between risk-informed development, and preserving development gains. We expect the document which will emerge to pay close attention to the means of implementation, for which Member States should be able to count on the co-ordinated support of the UN Development Group and UN Country Teams.

A good outcome from the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa in July is essential for implementation of the post-2015 agenda. As that agenda is expected to be broader and more transformational than the MDGs were, so too do we need to think more broadly about development finance. While Official Development Assistance (ODA) remains critical, it can support only a fraction of the finance required for sustainable development. Domestic resource mobilization, loans, investments, and other mechanisms, including climate finance, will contribute the lion’s share of what is required. The private sector needs to be part of the discussion on financing for sustainable development, as it already is on climate finance.

Moreover, financing for development cannot be considered only in the context of ‘stable times’: the new normal is a world of insecurity and unpredictability. How to manage risk better should also feature in Addis Ababa. Consistency and complementarity between financing for sustainable development and climate change action is important too.

Member States are now engaged in formal negotiations on the outcome of the Special Summit on Sustainable Development next September. The proposal of the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals; the feedback from the UN-facilitated global consultations; and the ideas advanced by the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel and other processes have all laid the ground for a global development agenda with significant legitimacy, engagement, and reach.

The Secretary General’s Synthesis Report, ‘The Road to Dignity by 2030’, proposes six “essential elements” for outcomes which would reinforce and communicate the post-2015 agenda’s core commitments. It also outlines an architecture for monitoring and accountability, and suggests a technical review of proposed SDG targets to ensure clarity and measurability.

Ultimately, the success of the post-2015 development agenda cannot be separated from global efforts to tackle climate change.

The Lima Call for Climate Action agreed in December has laid the foundation for a global deal on climate change to be struck in Paris. It is critical that countries make ambitious national commitments, and that progress continues on capitalizing the Green Climate Fund.

As the largest implementer of climate change projects in the UN system, with a portfolio of $1.3 billion in more than 140 countries, UNDP will continue to support developing countries’ efforts to tackle climate change in practical ways, and we will use our experience in doing that to contribute in any way we can to a successful outcome in Paris.

Overall, UNDP is well placed to support programme countries to deliver on the global agendas due to be agreed in 2015. Our expertise and experience across poverty reduction, MDG implementation, governance, and crisis prevention and recovery, along with our knowledge networks and co-ordination role within the UNDG, make us particularly well equipped to help countries deliver integrated sustainable development solutions required to meet the SDGs.

Strong focus on implementing the UNDP Strategic Plan

2015 is the second year of UNDP’s current Strategic Plan. Last year, many of the changes necessary to enable our organization to deliver on the new Plan were put in place.

At the headquarters and across central and regional bureaux, we have been breaking down silos and relocating staff in regional hubs and global centres. Most of the changes arising from our structural review are now in place.

The change in structures is accompanied by bedding in new behaviours, business processes, and development. The culture change required will be facilitated by a new and comprehensive internal accountability framework, consistent with UNDP’s accountability framework approved by the Board. This will enable everyone in the organization to see where accountability for processes lies, thereby reducing duplication and improving efficiency.

All country offices, regional bureaux, BPPS, and the Crisis Response Unit (CRU) have been required to review and realign their programmes with the new Strategic Plan. Staff from three-quarters of all Country Offices have been trained to implement the realignment, and staff in the remaining offices will be trained by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

This has been an analytical exercise, not a mechanical one. Offices have reviewed the focus, design, and management of their programmes and projects, and then adjusted them so that their contribution is both measurable and well aligned with countries’ needs and the Strategic Plan. Big efforts were made last year to lay stronger foundations for tracking our performance against the Strategic Plan. The five Regional Bureaux, BPPS, CRU, and the Bureau of Management are working together to provide better assistance across the board, from crisis response to early recovery and longer term programming advice and country support.

These initiatives, along with the strengthening of quality assurance processes, including our social and environmental standards, will lead to demonstrable improvements in the results we help achieve and on which we report.

We have also adjusted our internal planning tools, beginning with our annual business plan, to support delivering on the Strategic Plan. We believe we are breaking new ground in the UN development system with these annual plans. They will follow what we are calling “critical pathways” which will help us sequence and manage our work to meet our commitments under the Strategic Plan.

During this Board session, we are presenting a new resource mobilization strategy, to help us fulfill our mandate.

Its main objectives are:

1. to mobilize a critical mass of resources to protect our core revenue and reverse its downward trend, and increase the proportion of our funding which is only minimally-earmarked. Core resources remain critical for our ability to operate strategically, prioritize support to countries most in need, ensure quality programming, promote coherence through the Resident Co-ordinator System, and respond to crises and to emerging needs and opportunities.

UNDP currently has 55 donors contributing to core resources. We are launching a ‘Core 100’ campaign to achieve our goal of having one hundred core donors by 2017. We ask for Board support in helping us reach this target.

It is important to acknowledge that countries contribute to our funding base not only by providing core contributions, but also in other ways, including by hosting policy centres, giving rent support, engaging with us in South-South and Triangular Co-operation, and assisting Country Offices through GLOC and government cost-sharing. We are working on how to present a consolidated view of all such contributions more publicly.

2. to adopt a more co-ordinated approach to mobilising non-core resources for policy and programme activities, in order to ensure full coherence between these efforts at country-level and the overall corporate goals reflected in the Strategic Plan.

3. to diversify our resource base, not only by drawing funds from a wider range of governments, but also from beyond governments – for example, by piloting online digital fundraising from individuals and by updating our strategies to engage the private sector and foundations. Some sister UN agencies are more advanced than UNDP is in broadening their funding base in these ways.

The success of our resource mobilization links directly to our capacity to improve results, corporate performance, transparency, and accountability.

Let me emphasize that UNDP recognizes the value of the resources which each partner brings and respects the different ways of contributing to our work. I thank all partners who contribute to the resource base of the organization. UNDP looks forward to continued engagement with Member States on the resource mobilization strategy, including on proposals for increasing core contributions, and through structured dialogue, to ensure that we have the resources we need for successful implementation of the Strategic Plan.

Active promotion of South-South and Triangular Co-operation

As called for in the Strategic Plan, UNDP is fully committed to engagement with South-South and Triangular Co-operation being a core way of working for the organization. We see these as extremely important instruments for advancing human and sustainable development.

Central to our engagement is UNDP’s hosting of the UN Office for South-South Co-operation, the role of which we highly value. In line with the outcome of the High-Level Committee on South-South Co-operation, last May, we continue to implement measures to strengthen the Office. Consistent with the 2013 Board decision on the Integrated Budget, we continue to shield the funding allocated from programme resources to the Office from any reductions or cuts in UNDP core resources. We have supported the establishment of an inter-agency mechanism on co-ordinating UN development agencies’ support to SSC – the Task Team on South-South Co-operation of UNDG’s Sustainable Development Working Group.

UNDP’s global and regional programmes have prioritized support to South-South and Triangular Co-operation; the modality has been fully integrated into the guidelines for UNDP’s Country Programme Documents; and we have revised our project modalities to make us more flexible in promoting such programming.

As we are scaling-up our support to South-South and Triangular Co-operation, we see both growing demand and enthusiastic support from all partners. Responding to this, we are developing a comprehensive, corporate strategy on SSC which aims to take these efforts even further.

UNDP engagement in direct budget support

In response to Executive Board Decision 2013/3, we are presenting to you at this meeting the Report on Direct Budget Support. It covers the extended pilot period 2008-2014, and is based on UNDP’s experiences in Burkina Faso and Nepal.

Although direct budget support is not part of UNDP’s core business, we recognize that it is an important development finance instrument which embodies elements of national ownership, transparency, and harmonization. Those attributes flow from its use of national public finance systems for disbursement, after UNDP’s careful assessment of capacity and internal controls, and the national selection of priority sectors to be funded.

As the paper before the Board explains, while only two UNDP Country Offices have been asked to provide direct budget support in the form of sector financing, we believe that it is an important policy option which should remain at our disposal in response to country demand and subject to the agreed risk safeguards. We are therefore asking the Board to consider continuation of UNDP’s policy on engagement in direct budget support, based on experience gained from the pilot.

Unwavering commitment to accountability and transparency

As the Board is well aware, UNDP is highly committed to transparency and accountability.

We were therefore delighted that the 2014 Aid Transparency Index ranked UNDP as the most transparent aid organization in the world, noting “commendable performance” in our commitment to transparency. We will make sustained efforts to deliver further on our transparency commitments, based on Publish What You Fund’s key recommendations to UNDP: to enhance project information, including tenders, contracts, and evaluations; to complement our Information Disclosure Policy with an independent appeals process; and to continue advocacy and awareness around transparency and open data.

UNDP’s public disclosure of its internal audit reports also demonstrates that our work is subject to rigorous and independent scrutiny.

By 23 January 2015, UNDP had publicly disclosed a total of 298 internal audit reports. Since January 2013, more than 6,500 visits had been registered at the website where the reports are published.

In line with our commitment to accountability, and to ensure an added level of assurance over the funds entrusted to us, a process of proactive investigations has been initiated. Regular

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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 http://bit.ly/1rVBvFx )

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 http://bit.ly/1vrD9OR

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 http://1.usa.gov/1rVAPAb)

 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 http://bbc.in/1rVBDF2)

Ebola

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 http://yhoo.it/12qlN95)

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 http://bit.ly/1vRjeaO)

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 http://bit.ly/12qheeI)

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 http://bit.ly/12qipLl)

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 http://bit.ly/1pZ45Vn)

 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 http://bit.ly/12qkxCO)

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 http://bit.ly/12qkSW4)

New data shows the Ebola outbreak intensifying in Sierra Leone, even as it stabilizes or drops off in other West African countries. (VOA http://bit.ly/12qivTj)

Dangerous practices spread Ebola in Sierra Leone (AP http://yhoo.it/1ykja6H)

Africa

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 http://bit.ly/1vrCPzv)

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 http://bit.ly/12qicI7)

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 http://yhoo.it/1vRj82L)

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 http://yhoo.it/1ykiRsw)

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 http://bit.ly/1pYYXR6)

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 http://bit.ly/1pYZn9S)

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 http://bit.ly/12qinTz)

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 http://yhoo.it/1vRjMNJ)

Women and girls in South Sudan are being attacked as they go about the most mundane daily activities, says the International Rescue Committee. (VOA http://bit.ly/12qiAGp)

GlaxoSmitheKline (GSK) has opened a £4m grant initiative to researchers on non communicable diseases in Africa. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1vRk07y)

MENA

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 http://bit.ly/1pZ2hLR)

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 http://bit.ly/12qktCZ)

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 http://bit.ly/12qkHdm)

Asia

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 http://bit.ly/1pZ2A9F)

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 http://bit.ly/1vrCzjX)

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 http://yhoo.it/1vrDIYQ)

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 http://yhoo.it/1AlOTSN)

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 http://bit.ly/1vRj7fa)

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 http://bit.ly/1AlMwQ1)

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 http://yhoo.it/1AlNls1)

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 http://yhoo.it/1vrEftT)

The Colombian government and Farc rebels have agreed to resume peace talks suspended over the abduction of an army general, mediators say. (BBC http://bbc.in/1ykaihi)

Opinion/Blogs

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 http://bit.ly/1FR15MG)

Is HIV Evolving Into A Weaker Virus? (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/12qkdEb)

Eric Garner, grand jury: How would we cover the decision not to indict a police officer if it happened in another country? (Slate http://slate.me/121CeJ0)

An Inclusive Emerging Economy, With Africa in the Lead (NY Times http://nyti.ms/1I5TJJ5)

Japan’s Misuse of Climate Funds for Dirty Coal Plants Exposed (IPS http://bit.ly/1pZ3GC8)

If you read one paper on the post-2015 process, make it this one (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/121CvM2)

Rusty Radiator Awards: The “worst use of stereotypes” in advertising (This is Africa http://bit.ly/121CAPW)

Teasing Out Trends: The Smartphone Revolution (People, Spaces, Deliberation http://bit.ly/1I5Uz8G)

Signs that something is seriously wrong in the global response to Ebola (Chris Blattman http://bit.ly/1I5UMZG)

Nutrition’s New Frontier: The Science of Scaling Up Nutrition (USAID Impact http://1.usa.gov/1I5Vvd9)

Research/Report

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 http://bit.ly/1AlMZSh)

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.

The Trillion Dollar Scandal

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The activists at the ONE Campaign are setting their sights on a type of corruption that stymies international development. “Anti-poverty organization ONE is urging leaders of the 20 largest economies to act decisively at an annual summit in November against money laundering, bribery, tax evasion and corruption which it estimates costs the world’s poorest countries more than $1 trillion a year. The Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group launched its report on the economic cost of corruption on the developing world on Wednesday in the Australian capital Canberra at a Parliament House event attended by diplomats from the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. ONE is lobbying Australia to use its presidency of the G20 leaders’ summit in the city of Brisbane on Nov. 15-16 to end what it calls a culture of secrecy that allows corruption and criminality to thrive in many countries. (AP http://yhoo.it/1vOmVjo)

And here’s ONE’s report: http://bit.ly/1uBhuAl
Ebola

Nigeria now has 18 Ebola cases, after a fourth case surfaced in Port Harcourt, home to Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry, the health minister said on Wednesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1oDEQkd)

Another American missionary doctor has tested positive for Ebola in Monrovia, Liberia. He is the third American health care worker to contract the virus. (NPR http://n.pr/1oDIkTB)

Decades of corruption, deep-rooted mistrust of government and weak public services in Liberia have hastened the spread of the Ebola virus, and much more needs to be done to bridge a communication gap between government and citizens, say civil society groups and analysts. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1vOfkkA)

Guinea’s government said on Wednesday that Ebola had spread to a previously unaffected region of the country, as U.S. experts warned that the worst ever outbreak of the deadly virus was spiralling out of control in West Africa. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1oDF3E2)

The cost of getting supplies needed to West African countries to get the Ebola crisis under control will be at least $600 million, Dr David Nabarro, the senior United Nations Coordinator for Ebola Disease, told reporters on Wednesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1oDFoX6)

The Ebola outbreak in Africa is beginning to have an impact on agriculture and shipping as far away as Asia, with Thailand’s rice industry among the first to experience a serious impact. (VOA http://bit.ly/1oDJDBX)

A British nurse infected with Ebola while working in Sierra Leone was discharged from a London hospital on Wednesday after recovering from the disease following treatment with the experimental drug ZMapp. http://yhoo.it/1oDOCma

More than 1,900 people have died in the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, marking a major acceleration in fatalities from just over 1,500 last week. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1xbWG83)

Africa

Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane returned to State House in the capital Maseru on Wednesday, four days after he fled to South Africa following an apparent bid by the military to oust him, an aide said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1vOi0yW)

One group is addressing the problem of public health by providing sealed floors to households that once had dirt ones, in Rwanda. (NPR http://n.pr/1vOj7yl)

African leaders are meeting in Nairobi Tuesday to discuss how to tackle terrorism and extremism across the continent. (VOA http://bit.ly/1oDIYAD)

Britain has sent another $50 million to help South Sudanese who are suffering in the young country’s conflict, International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone said at the start of a three-day visit to South Sudan. (VOA http://bit.ly/1vOkWLW)

Ugandan MPs have begun work on reintroducing tough anti-gay legislation, a month after the east African nation’s constitutional court declared a previous law “null and void”, a report said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1vOpim4)

MENA

The International Monetary Fund approved a $553 million loan for Yemen to help the struggling country stabilize its finances and boost growth. http://yhoo.it/1vOmlBY

The UN peacekeeping chief strongly denied on Wednesday allegations from the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief that Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights were ordered to surrender their weapons to Islamist militants who had trapped them.(GMA News http://bit.ly/1uBhalj)

Asia

Police have arrested three men over the suspected rape and murder of a teenager who had protested against village elders’ harassment of her father in India’s east, an officer said. http://yhoo.it/1vOotJY

Activists in Asia warn of a harmful regression in the World Bank’s safeguard policies, claiming that proposed changes being considered this autumn could weaken the rights of indigenous people, and others in danger of displacement and abuse as a result of Bank-funded development projects. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1xbWTrQ)

The Americas

The number of immigrant children caught alone illegally crossing the Mexican border into the United States continued to decline in August, according to figures disclosed Wednesday by the Homeland Security Department. (AP http://yhoo.it/WbXxED)

The racist Peruvian television show La Paisana Jacinta loses prime-time slot following a UN admonishment, but racism against indigenous people and African-Peruvians far from eradicated. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1oDy7qf)

A United Nations panel reviewing the US record on racial discrimination has expressed unusually pointed concern over a new pattern of laws it warns is criminalising homelessness. (IPS http://bit.ly/1vOfuZo)

Mass deportations and obstacles to travel are not keeping Hondurans from migrating to the US. (IPS http://bit.ly/1vOfSHf)

US major pharmacy, CVS Caremark, has pulled cigarettes from its shelves a month ahead of schedule. (NPR http://n.pr/1vOiJAa)

Central America’s years of neglect of agriculture, poor water management and lack of planning to help farmers cope with climate change are worsening food shortages caused by a widespread drought, aid agencies say. (TRF http://bit.ly/1oDLl6m)

Opinion/Blogs

With Sewing and Sowing, Self-reliance Blooms in Central Asia (UN Women http://bit.ly/1vOfF6X)

Israel’s Settlement Push Damages Peace Chances (VOA http://bit.ly/1vOl7qC)

Africas economic rise does not reflect reality (Guardian http://bit.ly/1xbWdCR)

Global Prosperity Wonkcast: Unpacking WHO’s Shocking Ebola Maps (CDG http://bit.ly/1xbWx4n)

Who Are You Calling Corrupt? Good Governance Begins at Home (Think Africa Press http://bit.ly/1t0Gno4)

‘Beyond our two minutes’: which international bodies are good/bad at consulting civil society organizations? (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1u1afDE)

Solving Political and Development Issues in Africa’s Food Security (Development Diaries http://bit.ly/1u1aNt0)

How to (Not) Win Friends and Influence Voters (Cherokee Gothic http://bit.ly/1t0HN1K)

Research/Reports

The Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute Torgny Holmgren said water should be a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal in the UN’s post-205 development agenda. (IPS http://bit.ly/1oDEGJC)

More women are choosing to have bilateral mastectomies when they are diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, even though there’s little evidence that removing both breasts improves their survival compared with more conservative treatments.The biggest study yet on the question has found no survival benefit with bilateral mastectomy compared with breast-conserving surgery with radiation. (NPR http://n.pr/1oDIryu)

A new study says the growing popularity of the Western diet could help worsen climate change. As more people make meat a principal part of their diet, the authors say it will be very difficult to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (VOA http://bit.ly/1oDKRxj)

Economic prosperity is the worst enemy of minority languages, said researchers Wednesday who listed parts of Australia and North America as “hotspots” for extinction risk. http://yhoo.it/1vOnzgy

Nearly three billion people risk ill health and early death merely from breathing the air in their homes that is polluted by fires made for cooking and heating, researchers said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/WbXIQ5)