Keynote Address
by

H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
PRESIDENT/ NRM NATIONAL CHAIRPERSON

to 
THE JOINT POLITICAL LEADERSHIP: THE NRM CENTRAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, 
CABINET AND PERMANENT SECRETARIES

On
Re-focusing on the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Ideological 
Orientation


KYANKWANZI - 26th July, 2016

REFOCUSING ON THE NRM’S IDEOLOGICAL ORIENTATION

As we have repeatedly pointed out in all the NRM documents, the NRM principles are four: patriotism (anti-sectarianism and anti-gender-chauvinism); pan-Africanism; socio-economic transformation; and democracy.

As the leader of the NRM and its precursors (Fronasa, etc), for almost fifty years today, I must salute the Ugandans in general and our supporters in particular because they have always rallied around our cause. They listened to our message when we were students. They supported us in the anti-Amin struggle ─ witness the Fronasa force we built up so quickly on the western axis in 1978/79. In their millions, they supported us in the anti-UPC war of 1981-86. Ever since 1986, the Ugandans, in their millions, have supported our anti-terrorism military campaigns and our political struggles against opportunism. The Ugandans always support Uganda’s unity against sectarian opportunism ─ (tribal or religious). They always support our stand on Pan-Africanist positions: our support for the SPLM/SPLA struggle in South Sudan, our support for the RPF in Rwanda, our support for the anti-Mobutu struggle, our support for the ANC struggle in South Africa, our efforts in Somalia, our efforts in CAR (Central African Republic), our efforts in Liberia, etc. etc. The people of Uganda always support our stand on the EAC, the East African Federation inclusive. As soon as the East African Anthem was composed, Uganda, without my directive to do so, adopted it as one of the anthems on State functions. Uganda always welcomes the refugees from the African countries. As I speak today, there are: 207,921 refugees from Congo, 257,171 refugees from South Sudan, 36,758 refugees from Somalia, 2,772 refugees from North Sudan, 39,608 refugees from Burundi, 17,367 refugees from Rwanda, etc., etc. Accepting African refugees is part of the solidarity with our African brothers and sisters. 
However, it is also a component of our Pan-Africanist strategy to work for the unity of Africa in order to ensure our prosperity and the prosperity of our African brothers and sisters. In other documents, we have informed Ugandans about unity, within Uganda and between Uganda and other African countries, being a medicine against poverty and under-development and for prosperity.

Our trade with our African brothers and sisters under EAC and COMESA today brings in US$ 2 billion. Our trade with EU, on the other hand, only brings in US$433 million per year; with China, US$54.7millions per year; with India, US$24.8million per year; with the USA, US$27.2 millions per year; etc. Yet we import so much from China, India, EU, UAE, etc. As I told you in the strategic guidelines, we must export more to the EU, to the USA, to China, to India, to the UAE, to Russia, to Turkey and Central Asia, to Japan and the Far East, etc. It is not correct to support the prosperity of others by massively importing their products (goods and services) while they do not support our prosperity through them importing our goods and services. Our African brothers and sisters, however, are already supporting our prosperity, as already pointed out above, by giving us US$2 billions of goods and services bought from us. This is in spite of the instability and the underdeveloped infrastructure still to be found in the region. How much more will they support our prosperity and we theirs when total peace is restored in this area and infrastructure is developed in the area?

Therefore, Uganda caring for the African refugees that are brought here by adversity, is not just charity. It is also good strategy. Our Banyarwanda comrades stayed here as refugees for 34 years (1960-1994). We gave them all the support we could afford. When they gained ascendance in Rwanda, they opened up that country for interaction, including trade, with East Africa. Today Uganda exports US$263 million worth of goods and services to Rwanda. Rwanda, in turn, is exporting US$78 million worth of goods to Uganda. Through Rwanda Airlines, Uganda is currently contributing about US$ 24.1 million to the prosperity of the people of Rwanda. South Sudan, before the outbreak of the conflict in 2013, was contributing US$ 700 million per annum (exports and remittances) to the prosperity of the people of Uganda. You recently witnessed the exodus of 40,000 plus Ugandans that came back from South Sudan on account of the present conflict there. What were they doing there? Looking for prosperity. Therefore, Ugandans should know that unity within Uganda and Pan-Africanism in the whole of Africa are not mere acts of solidarity but are also investments to create a better framework for the prosperity of all Africans.
I, therefore, salute Ugandans for welcoming our brothers and sisters, the African refugees as well as other African business persons. It is the cumulative, Pan-Africanist efforts of as many Africans as are enlightened on this point that will guarantee the prosperity of the African people.

Even to negotiate credible and durable trade deals with the USA, the EU, China, India, Japan, Russia, Brazil, etc., we need Pan-Africanism. It is only through the EAC (160 million people) and the whole of Africa (1.25 billion people) that the other foreign countries or trading blocs can listen to our voice in the long run.

It is, however, not correct for the regulators not to take action against the Chinese and Indian retailers who unfairly compete against our retailers. Those foreigners should not operate at that terminal level. 
They should be re-directed to manufacturing in particular and other areas like construction. Retailing should be preserved for the Ugandans or, possibly, the other African immigrants as well.

 

Therefore, the Ugandans have internalized, generally speaking, three of the four principles of the NRM: patriotism, Pan-Africanism and democracy. 
Although there are still opportunists who try to revive sectarianism, they are ever diminishing in importance. It is principle number three, socio-economic transformation, that is still problematic. It is the one we need to focus on vigorously. What, again, is socio-economic transformation? 
It is the evolution of society from lower forms of social organizations to higher forms. The universes (the earth, the sun, the stars and the galaxies) have been in existence for about 14 billion years. It is believed that the galaxies came from an explosion of dense nucleus of elementary particles of gas, a process known as the big bang. Atoms were later formed as the gas expanded and cooled. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is comprised of billions of suns/stars including our sun, as well as planets: such as Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, etc, rotating around the galactic center. There are other galaxies such as Andromeda, Magellan, Black eye, Cigar, Comet and many more. The word ‘galaxy’ is derived from the Greek word for ‘milk’ and is the reason that the band of light and stars across the sky is called ‘the Milky Way’. 
It is thought that our own planet, earth, solidified about 4.5 billion years ago. Unicellular creatures started emerging about 3.8 to 4 billion years ago. Multi-cellular creatures started emerging about 700 or 800 years ago. About four million years ago, the human beings started evolving from apes. This was following the last glacial period ─ the ice-age. The first human-like creatures evolved in East Africa. Why? It was because it was open grass land. In the grass land, walking on four legs (Quadra-pedal) obstructed vision and could not allow somebody to see far. That is how gradually, some of the apes became bipedal (two-legged). 
Bipedalism is one factor that distinguishes man from other mammals. The other two are a hand that grips things and shapes tools and a large brain. The average human brain for men is 1273.6cc and 1131.1cc for women. It has been growing from 400cc, 4 million years ago to the present size of 1350cc. Since 3100 BC, these human groups started living in civilized societies. The early civilizations were in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Babylon, etc, around the years 3000BC and 3500BC respectively. In all those millennia, the primer for social change is the advancement of science and technology. The earliest example of technological revolution was the invention of fire around 350,000 years BC. 
With the invention of fire, the human beings could now move from being tree-dwellers and become cave dwellers because they could light the inside of caves and warm the caves. Karl Marx pointed out that the human society had gone through five social systems: primitive communalism, the slave state, feudalism, capitalism and socialism.

Initially, society was classless ─ all people were equal ─ hunters or gatherers. As time went on, differences in society emerged. As you saw above, slave owners and slaves emerged. Later on, the societies evolved into serfs and feudal land-lords. After the middle-ages in Europe, the feudal society metamorphosed into a capitalist society, culminating in the French Revolution of 1789. The French society of 1789 is always a very good example of social evolution up to that time, reflecting what was going on, at different paces, in other European societies. By that time, France was a four-class society:
1. The feudalists (the Aristocrats);
2. The middle-class (the bourgeoisie);
3. The working class (the Proletariat); and
4. The peasants.

Each of these social classes was maintained in different ways. The feudalists sustained themselves by taking rent on land (busuulu and nvujjo) from the peasants. The bourgeoisie sustained themselves by taking the difference between the cost price and the selling price of a good or a service which is called profit. This concept of profit was revolutionary because the previous societies were not very clear on this point.

Even today, you can find some African societies that engage in activities that are not costed. They cannot, therefore, know whether what they are doing is profitable or not. How much did the concept of profit help in the process of wealth-creation and wealth expansion? All modern thinkers should reflect on this. Islamic Banking is, for instance, apparently, against the concept of profit (riba). They call it haram (abominable ─ unholy or whatever). Is this revulsion against profit correct? Our think-tanks should reflect over these issues; we should not just go on without a historical compass. The Banyankore had both a credit policy and an insurance policy. Credit had two elements: Omukwaaato and Obunaku. Banyankore regarded with revulsion the idea of selling female cattle. They only sold or slaughtered either bulls or infertile cattle (enguumba or emberera). If, therefore, one had an urgent need of cattle for slaughter or sale and lacked one himself, he could approach another person with one of the two offers. Either he would offer omukwaato or obunaku. With omukwaato, you would give the lender a female producing cow in exchange for an appropriate slaughter or sale one. The omukwaato cow would stay with the lender until it produced and weaned a female calf (echukire). Then the omukwaato cow would redeem itself (okwechungura). If it produced bull calves in the meantime, they would, on weaning, belong to the borrower. The lender would, however, take the milk for all the time until the termination of the deal. With the obunaku, the borrower would take a slaughter or sale cow (enguumba, etc) or bull (endaaho) from the lender. After a stipulated time, say three years, the borrower would give a female cow (a weaner or a mature cow) to the lender.

The solution for social insurance was to run to the aid of somebody that had experienced calamity on account of the death of one’s cattle. This was called okushumbuusha. Your friends would kushumbuusha you. After some years, you would pay back to each of them a female weaner and the debt would be over. There was also empaano. This was like entandikwa (initial capital) for the poor beneficiary vis-avis a richer person or it could simply be an exchange of gifts among rich equals. As you can see, all these were the “Islamic Banking” of the Banyankore. They were all the pre-capitalist forms of credit among the Banyankore.

I have spent abit of time on the issue of profit as I reminded the audience of the phenomenon of the middle-class (the bourgeoisie) in the evolution of the society. This is because I consider it crucial to understand the instruments the different societies used to generate and expand wealth (Obugaiga, Lonyo-Luo, Abar-Ateso, Lonyi-Lugbara).

The fourth social class during the time of the French Revolution were the peasants as already pointed out above. These depended on their sweat minus what the land-lord took as rent (busuulu and nvujjo).

As capitalism developed, between 1400AD and 1800AD, another ideology also came up. This was the ideology of socialism. This was the ideology of the working class distilled by the intellectual Karl Marx, Engels, etc and, later, Lenin, Mao Tse Tung and others. On account of the concentration of wealth in Europe in fewer and fewer hands, the vast majority of the people came to the point of where they owned nothing ─ no land, no property of any type (house, hotel) and no business (shipping, banking, transport, etc). As Hunt R. Margaret put it in the Oxford Handbook of Modern European History, 1350-1750 Vol.1 on page 344 when she interpreted Karl Marx’s opinion on the Communist Manifesto of 1848, “they owned nothing except their labour”. The exact quotation goes as follows: 
“In the early modern and modern periods, according to Karl Marx, the ‘bourgeois’ or ‘capitalist’ class owned the means of production (capital to invest, raw materials, the factories, the machines) while ‘working class’ people owned nothing except their own labour which they found themselves having to sell for a pittance to capitalists.”

The communists, therefore, believed that the State (the Government), acting on behalf of all the people should take the “commanding heights” of the economy (land, banking, etc), otherwise capitalism, since it ever concentrated wealth into fewer and fewer hands, would come into crisis and would stop being rational (as it was at the beginning of its onset) and become, not only irrational, but also, a fetter on the greater productivity of society.

In 1917, exactly 128 years after the French Capitalist Revolution, a Socialist Revolution took place in Tsarist Russia. Rapidly, the Soviet Union emerged as a very powerful State until it got into crisis in 1990. In 1949, the Soviet Union was joined by the People’s Republic of China as another communist country.

We the African revolutionaries, have been studying all these phenomena and we have avoided the bigotry of some circles and pointed out to all and sundry that both capitalism and socialism are modern systems. They can help to advance society to higher levels of production of wealth and affluence. Capitalism uses the selfishness of people, driven by the profit motive, to aggressively and efficiently create and expand wealth. Since, however, capitalism concentrates on private profitability in a single enterprise (a factory, a hotel, a business), they can easily forget social profitability (collective gain). A bar owner may get very good profits from selling alcohol. Society as a whole, however, may lose on account of the increased alcoholism in society. Private profitability vs social profitability. You could also describe this as the contradiction between micro-profitability vs macro profitability for the whole economy. We in the NRM, therefore, have never accepted the shallow social science of the Western countries that fetishized capitalism and elevated that useful social system, but one with limitations and weaknesses nevertheless, to the high pedestal of a deity (God-like). The position that capitalism was the only useful social system in the modern era, was wrong. The dramatic rise of the Chinese economy, in terms of GDP size, to the second biggest economy in the world today is proof of the correctness of our position. By mixing both the capitalist and socialist stimuli to the Chinese economy, the Chinese Communist Party has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty and registered gigantic steps for the growth and transformation of the economy. In the NRM’s 10 points programme, point no. 10 was, indeed, emphatically saying that, for us, we believed in the use of the strategy of  a mixed economy. Below are the NRM Ten Points Programme:

POINT N0. 1 
Restoration of Democracy

POINT N0. 2
Restoration of Security

POINT N0. 3
Consolidation of national unity and elimination of all forms of sectarianism.

POINT N0.4
Defending and consolidating national independence

POINT N0. 5
Building an independent, integrated and self-sustaining national economy

POINT N0.6
Restoration and improvement of social services and rehabilitation of war ravaged areas

POINT N0. 7
Elimination of corruption and the misuse of power

POINT N0. 8
Redressing errors that have resulted in the dislocation of some sections of the population

POINT N0. 9
Cooperation with other African countries

POINT N0. 10 
Following an economic strategy of a mixed economy

Therefore, when today we talk of the principle no. 3 of the NRM, the principle of socio-economic transformation, we should know that we are not treading on an un-trodden path. Many societies have already trodden that path. Initially, it was the societies of Western Europe that between 1400AD and 1900AD metamorphosed from feudal societies to middle-class and skilled working class societies. Between 1945 and today, huge sections of the Asian populations in China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia have similarly done so. It is now the single most important task of the NRM.

The 23 points guidelines I gave you recently are in order to achieve this  by initially enabling Uganda to become a Middle Income status country by 2020 and a First World country in the next 30 years if not less. We have long started on that journey. By identifying the ten strategic bottlenecks, we had correctly diagnosed the sickness. In order to remind ourselves, the 10 strategic bottlenecks are:
(i) ideological disorientation;
(ii) a weak state, especially the army, that needed restructuring;
(iii) the suppression of the private sector;
(iv) the underdevelopment of the human resource (lack of education and poor 
health); 
(v) the underdevelopment of the infrastructure (the railways, the roads, 
the electricity, the telephones, piped water, etc);
(vi) a small internal market;
(vii) lack of industrialization;
(viii) the underdevelopment of the services sector (hotels, banking, 
transport, insurance, etc.);
(ix) the underdevelopment of agriculture; and
(x) the attack on democracy.

By dealing with each of these strategic bottlenecks, we are either directly or indirectly, contributing to the struggle for the socio-economic transformation of our society.

Indeed, all of them impact on this struggle. Education for all and improved health for everybody does. Educated people can more easily move into the middle-class than the uneducated. Emancipating the private sector 
through liberalization impacts social evolution in two ways: by encouraging entrepreneurs to emerge who, then, become employers and, then, the employers taking on employees. With one stroke, two elements of two social 
classes are created: the middle-class and the working class. Handling strategic bottleneck no. 9, the under-development of agriculture, will mean dealing with the 68% of the homesteads that are still in subsistence 
agriculture. By handling infrastructure, we are creating a modern base for the economy that will enable entrepreneurs to produce goods and services cheaply, which means that Uganda will be competitive. If we produce 
expensive or poor quality goods, nobody will buy them. If people, local and foreign, do not buy our products or use our services, our entrepreneurs will collapse or will not expand. All that will negatively affect jobs , 
etc. It is a vicious cycle ─ one problem, leading to another.

In conclusion and simply put, socio-economic transformation means discarding negative old traditions, going from manual, non-skilled labour to skilled and intellectual labour.

We must move from feudal relationships and practice middle-class relationships and practices. The peasant class will be phased out. A peasant should not produce another peasant in the NRM era. A peasant should produce a skilled worker, a middle-class entrepreneur, a professional able to market his/her professionalism or an intellectual. In that way, as a consequence of addressing the 10 strategic bottle-necks, our society will undergo socio-economic transformation. Indeed, that socio-economic transformation is already taking place. It is a question of intensifying 
and expediting the process. Uganda will become a middle-class and skilled working class society based on the four sectors of our economy: a modern commercial agriculture, industries (factories), modern services and ICT.

I thank you.

26th July, 2016 -

Kyankwanzi

 

 

STATEMENT by David F.Mpanga
Disseminated Worldwide by Public Opinions
Earlier this week, a brief report consisting of no more than three paragraphs and tucked away in the bottom right hand corner on Page Eight of this newspaper caught my eye. The headline that day was about the ground-breaking agreement by the East Africa Community leaders to build oil pipelines and a new Mombasa to Kigali railway line. This wasn’t major news by any stretch of the imagination, but I lingered over it because it struck a personal chord for me.

In 1976, my late father started suffering pain and other symptoms that caused him to seek for medical assistance. After being diagnosed and treated for various ailments without success, the doctors recommended more detailed investigations. The investigation options at Mulago hospital were limited; even the basic x-ray machine was broken down, or when it was working, there was no radiologist to operate it. So my father opted to seek treatment abroad.

I am reliably told by my mother that a medical referral was obtained and the necessary funds were raised. But there was one small hurdle. Treatment abroad had to be paid for in foreign currency and the foreign exchange controls that prevailed at the time meant that you needed the permission of the Minister of Finance to convert your local currency into foreign exchange. Without the minister’s permission, any dealings in foreign exchange were both illegal and extortionately expensive.

So my mother prepared the necessary paper work, got all of the bureaucratic clearances from the bank and the Ministry of Health then began hunting the Minister of Finance’s approval. On two or more separate occasions, the minister’s secretary advised my mother to go away and come back another day because the minister was in no mood to entertain her application. On the third or fourth time of checking at the minister’s office, the secretary told my mother that although the minister was engaged, he would see her if she could wait.

After a long and anxious wait during which she could hear the minister barking at somebody else over whatever matter had brought that poor soul to his office, my mother was summoned.

The minister, a no-nonsense military man, looked at her once over and asked what she wanted. He didn’t offer her a seat so she remained standing. She said she needed clearance to buy foreign exchange to pay for her husband’s medical treatment. She handed the minister the painstakingly collected and prepared paperwork. The minister cast his eye over the papers that had been handed to him and, without saying a word or asking any questions, tore them up and cast them in his waste paper basket.

My mother was dumbstruck. She wanted to plead with the man but couldn’t find the right words. She didn’t know whether it was wise or even safe for her to ask why the application had been rejected. With tears welling up in her eyes, the only words that came out of her mouth were “Thank you, sir”. The minister didn’t look up from his paperwork so my mother walked out of his office, closing the door behind her.

My father got progressively worse. A few months later, the doctors at Mulago, in desperation, decided to open up his abdomen to take a look at what they thought was a perennially obstructed gut. What they found was advanced cancer of the pancreas. There was nothing that they could do to save him so they stitched him up again. My father’s body, wracked with cancer, was too weak. He did not recover from the anaesthesia. He died post-operatively on December 10, 1976. He was 51-years-and-11-months old and I was six-years-old. He was buried in Masooli, which happens to be in Kyadondo East Constituency.

Pancreatic cancer is fairly aggressive and has a high mortality rate. But even in 1976, an earlier diagnosis could have led to treatment that would have prolonged my father’s life a little. That opportunity was missed thanks to the man who was then the Minister of Finance.

Leaving that to one side, the report that caught my eye was about the 2nd Deputy Prime Minister, General Moses Ali losing his temper in Parliament when the MP for Kyadondo East, Ibrahim Semujju Nganda, addressed him as a former minister of Finance under Idi Amin’s government. It was reported that the incident caused such a furore in the Chamber of Parliament that the Speaker was forced to adjourn the House prematurely.

Only the General knows why he took such offence at being reminded about his service record. Sadly, it’s too late to for him to change the past and I did not write this column for or about him. I have recounted this story as a salutary lesson for all those men and women who hold offices today in which they wield power over others. You can still save yourselves. Act lawfully, be fair and, above all, be humane so that in the future your service record may be a source of pride and joy and not a cause for bitter regret. People never forget

A Joint Venture for the New Century

Chairs: , Co-Chief Executive Officer, Warburg Pincus, and , Distinguished Service Professor, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Project Director: , Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia
Program Director: Christopher M. Tuttle, Managing Director, Washington and Independent Task Force Programs

"A rising India offers one of the most substantial opportunities to advance American national interests over the next two decades," asserts a new Independent Task Force report sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Working With a Rising India: A Joint Venture for the New Century

Over the past ten years, India, the world's largest democracy, has lifted more than 130 million people out of poverty. The country has rebounded from a recent economic growth slump, surpassing China this year to become the world's fastest-growing major economy. "If India can maintain its current growth rate, let alone attain sustained double digits, it has the potential over the next two to three decades to follow China on the path to becoming another $10 trillion economy," notes the Task Force.

With Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's prioritization of economic growth and foreign policy revitalization, the country now has a window of opportunity to either make the necessary reforms or risk being left behind. "[India] will have to decide whether it wants to become a major part of global trade flows and deeply integrated into global supply chains. Doing so would boost India's efforts to grow its manufacturing sector and its economy; choosing not to will make that ambition harder to achieve."

Because India does not seek an alliance with the United States and closely guards its policy independence, U.S.-India relations will not resemble those Washington has with its conventional allies. For that reason, the Task Force recommends that "U.S. policymakers [should] explicitly emphasize a 'joint-venture' model for U.S.-India relations, focused on a slate of shared pursuits on which interests converge—and with clear mechanisms for coordinating and managing the known and expected disagreements."

The bipartisan Task Force is chaired by Charles R. Kaye, co-chief executive officer of the private equity firm Warburg Pincus and former chairman of the U.S.-India Business Council, and Joseph S. Nye Jr., distinguished service professor and former dean of the Harvard Kennedy School. Directed by CFR Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia Alyssa Ayres, the Task Force is composed of sixteen prominent experts from government, academic, nonprofit, and other sectors.

The Task Force also finds that U.S. and Indian policymakers should consider the following:

  • "To reduce the chances of conflict that could delay or hinder India's global rise, the United States should encourage India to improve its relationship with Pakistan—as an investment in its own rise—particularly, at least to start, through greater trade connectivity."
  • The drawdown of U.S. and other external forces in Afghanistan is fueling India's concerns about regional instability. "The Task Force recommends that the United States extend its commitment to Afghanistan—even beyond President Obama's decision to slow the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and retain a force of some 5,000 U.S. troops in the country into 2017."
  • "The Task Force finds that for India to realize its ambitions, for its society as well as its economy, it will need to tackle barriers that hold back women and girls." A recent McKinsey Global Institute study found that increased economic parity for women could add 0.7 trillion to 2.9 trillion dollars in gains.

The Task Force recommends "raising the priority of economic ties with India to the very top of the U.S.-India bilateral agenda, working to develop U.S. support for Indian economic growth, and collaborating actively with India to envision a more ambitious economic goal for Washington and New Delhi with a pathway to get there." It calls for transforming economic relations in the way defense and strategic cooperation was recast over the past decade.

While the United States and India have substantial shared interests in several global issues, the Task Force identifies four specific areas for joint ventures: the cyber domain, global health, climate change and clean energy, and democracy. "In cybersecurity and in global health, India has advanced technical capabilities and large, highly capable talent pools with experience working seamlessly with American partners, as has been demonstrated in the private sectors of IT and medical industries."

In addition, the Task Force recommends that the U.S. government, building on the consultation and increasing levels of interaction of recent years, "invest further attention to the security relationship with India across the entire spectrum. Homeland security and counterterrorism cooperation should receive added emphasis."

 

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By Public Opinions International

4th July 2016 –

The United Nations and its diplomatic partners in the Middle East peace process today released the first report of its kind, which analysed the impediments to a lasting resolution to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict and offered recommendations on the way forward, urging Israel to stop its settlement policy and Palestine to end incitement to violence.

The so-called Middle East Quartet – comprising the UN, Russia, the United States and the European Union – has been working on the report since February.

A wide view of a meeting of the representatives of Middle East Quartet (namely, the UN, the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union). UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe (file)

In it, they call on each side to “independently demonstrate, through policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solution” and to “refrain from unilateral steps that prejudice the outcome of the final negotiations.”

In summary, the Quartet reiterated that a negotiated two-state outcome is the only way to achieve an enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, ends the occupation that began in 1967, and resolves all permanent status issues.

The report provides recommendations to what it has identified as the major threats to achieving a negotiated peace: continued violence, terrorist attacks against civilians and incitement to violence; settlement construction and expansion; and the Palestinian Authority’s lack of control in Gaza.

In a statement, the Quartet Principals invite the Israeli and Palestinian Governments to engage with it on implementing its recommendations and creating conditions to resume “meaningful negotiations that resolve all final status issues.”

Following the release of the report, the UN Secretary-General encouraged the parties to engage with the Quartet to implement the findings “to rebuild hope among Palestinians and Israelis in a political solution and to create the conditions to return to meaningful negotiations.”

 

 

He underscored that there is a strong need for affirmative steps to reverse negative trends on the ground which risk entrenching a one-State reality of “perpetual occupation and conflict” which is incompatible with the national aspirations of both peoples.

 

Diplomatic Quartet’s recommendations

 

  • Both sides should work to de-escalate tensions by exercising restraint and refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric.
  • The Palestinian Authority should act decisively and take all steps within its capacity to cease incitement to violence and strengthen ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including by clearly condemning all acts of terrorism.
  • Israel should cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and denying Palestinian development.
  • Israel should implement positive and significant policy shifts, including transferring powers and responsibilities in Area C, consistent with the transition to greater Palestinian civil authority contemplated by prior agreements. Progress in the areas of housing, water, energy, communications, agriculture, and natural resources, along with significantly easing Palestinian movement restrictions, can be made while respecting Israel's legitimate security needs.
  • The Palestinian leadership should continue their efforts to strengthen institutions, improve governance, and develop a sustainable economy. Israel should take all necessary steps to enable this process, in line with the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee recommendations.
  • All sides must continue to respect the ceasefire in Gaza, and the illicit arms buildup and militant activities must be terminated.

 

In addition to these recommendations, the Quartet encouraged the international community to accelerate its efforts to address the “dire” humanitarian, reconstruction and recovery needs of the people in Gaza, including expediting the disbursement of assistance pledges.

The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, briefed the UN Security Council on the report yesterday. He said it is now time for both the Israelis and the Palestinians to rise to the challenge.

 

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What started out as a speech by then Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the World Economic Forum in the late 1990s is today the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative. The United Nations Global Compact calls on companies to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals.

Leading this effort since the Compact’s inception in 2000 has been Georg Kell, a German national who was a key architect of the initiative. Mr. Kell, a former research fellow and financial analyst, also oversaw the launch of the Global Compact’s sister initiatives on investment and business education, the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME). As the Global Compact celebrates its 15th anniversary this month, Mr. Kell spoke with the UN News Centre about how it all started, why being socially responsible is good for business, and why it is more important than ever to convince those still “sitting on the fence” when it comes to environmental, social and governance issues.

The majority of companies are still sitting on the fence, pretending shareholder values are all they are concerned about...

UN News Centre: You’ve led the Global Compact since its founding in 2000. Can you tell us briefly how it all started?

Georg Kell: The idea came in the late 90s when my former friend and colleague and boss, John Ruggie, said ‘look we must come up with a really great speech. Otherwise, Kofi Annan, then Secretary-General, will not go to the World Economic Forum. Can you do a really great speech?’ So, it was a speech called ‘The Global Compact’ and it called on business, in an era of globalization, to take on more responsibility, not just to look for profit but also to build social, environmental and governance pillars. We looked at what can the UN offer? Where is business under pressure? Where can we actually move things forward? The UN has for decades produced great stuff on human rights, on social issues, on environmental issues. So we looked for principles derived from international frameworks that in theory have long been endorsed by governments but which in practice are lagging in terms of implementation.

Executive Director Georg Kell speaks with the UN News Centre about corporate responsibility. Credit: United Nations

So we came up with 10 principles derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work [International Labour Organization], the Rio Declaration on Environment, and then later on the UN Convention Against Corruption. So the idea was very simple... embrace the principles, make them part of your own strategic orientation and translate them into operations. And, where you can, take action to support UN goals, enter into partnerships, initiatives and so forth. So it was just a speech... we made the front pages of all the international papers... and we thought ‘job done,’ it was just a policy speech, let’s move on to the next one.

But the reaction to the speech was so overwhelming that we felt compelled to actually try to translate this lofty speech into an operational initiative, and that’s where the real journey started... It was what academics call ‘a classic speech act’ – intended as a speech, but then due to popular demand, gradually it led into an enormous building effort.

UN News Centre: Are the United Nations and the business community a natural fit in promoting human rights, tackling corruption and protecting the environment?

Georg Kell: If business is ethically oriented, then the answer is yes... In practice, business can choose... business can do a lot of harm... business can pollute rivers... they can burn down forests... they can seduce customers... they can sell pornography... trafficking in children, in the worst case... or they can be based on sound ethical frameworks and recognize that they can only grow if the societies where they’re working also succeed. So our job has been to win over companies that going global does not just mean having more short-term profits and looking for the cheapest allocation or sourcing capabilities. But rather to understand that for markets to grow, and for your own future prospects to be successful, it makes sense to integrate, in your strategic thinking and operations, environmental, social and governance issues. So this has been the big battle around the narrative on corporate sustainability, corporate responsibility.

 

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) visited the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and rang the bell to mark the close of the day’s trading in July 2013. The visit was intended to welcome NYSE Euronext to the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative which explores how exchanges can work together with investors, regulators, and companies to enhance corporate transparency, as well as performance on environmental, social and corporate governance issues. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

 

And today, I can say that it is a global movement. We have 8,400 active corporate participants from over 150 countries, with 4,000 non-for-profit organizations engaged as well – be it business schools, academia, civil society, local authorities, and so forth. And we have 90 country networks up and running. Some of these country networks are really big forces in their own right already... They convene; they organize; they form partnerships; they grow and scale successful solutions. So it’s a big movement now but I have to say it’s not yet transformative because the majority of companies are still sitting on the fence, pretending shareholder values are all they are concerned about, ‘that profit is the only imperative we have, that the rest is not our responsibility.’ So we still have to win over many companies which are still sitting on the fence. But for the first time in our 15-year history, we can see a tipping point is possible.

So if we keep growing the initiative worldwide, both large and small companies, we can change markets from within. Actually, I believe that already a silent revolution is taking place because these 8,000+ companies employ more than 50 million workers, and have a huge footprint. What these companies do and how they have changed what they’re doing already had a huge impact. We will issue next week a ground-breaking review and assessment, which will document the changes already being brought about by this movement... And the figures are really astonishing, whether it is hundreds of millions of [tonnes of] water saved; hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 reductions accomplished; hundreds of projects taking place at the community level to create employment... so the footprint is enormous. The scalability is enormous but the movement has not yet reached a tipping point.

UN News Centre: What does corporate responsibility look like in practical terms?

The 10 Principles of the Global Compact:

Human Rights
    1. Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
    2. make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

Labour
    1. Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
    2. the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
    3. the effective abolition of child labour; and
    4. the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Environment
    1. Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
    2. undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
    3. encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

Anti-Corruption
  1. Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

Georg Kell: It means that the CEO and the top leadership understand that long-term financial success goes [hand] in hand with environmental stewardship, social responsibility and good governance. Failure on any of these three non-financial pillars means long-term financial success cannot be safeguarded. From the beginning, we have aimed at transforming business, recognizing that the most important contribution business is making to development and the UN agenda is how business conducts itself.

We know of many companies which more recently have integrated this thinking at the board level, where the CEOs recognize the importance of what economists call non-traditional financial issues – ESG – environmental, social, governance. This then shows throughout the organization... it means there’s good ethics; there’s empowerment of people; there’s transparency, disclosure on an annual basis, including on non-financial issues, as we demand from our participants. Failure to do so leads to de-listing. Already we had to delist 5,000 companies. It also means that companies proactively look for opportunities on the ground to include poor people, to grow markets, to engage in partnerships on the ground on water stewardship, to enter into larger-scale efforts on vocational training, for example, to promote women’s empowerment at the workplace, in the community and so forth. And in some of our global efforts where we are directly linked with climate negotiations, for example, or the upcoming SDGs [sustainable de velopment goals], we go a step further even...

So responsible business statesmanship today means you can connect the dots; you know your own future financial success depends on the success of the market where you invest and therefore you recognize the opportunities in being part of the solution rather than part of the problem. And this in operational terms then means total alignment with the Global Compact’s principles within the organization and engagement through partnerships and collaboration around priority issues.

UN News Centre: How is being socially responsible good for business?

Georg Kell: A fundamental shift is taking place in the marketplace, and this is where globalization is actually helping us to make the business case. What used to be external to the firm now matters financially. If companies mess up... say on corruption... or if they are caught in polluting rivers or the ocean, it not only causes enormous damage to their brand... it is also detrimental to employees’ motivation and, in general terms, undermines long-term business prospects. What has changed in the world is, because of digital empowerment of people, because of global integration, non-financial issues become material for long-term financial performance.

 

Group photo before the Annual Women’s Empowerment Principles Event held in New York in March 2015. Launched in 2010, the seven principles serve as guide posts for actions that advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. UN Photo/Mark Garten

 I give you four reasons why that is so. The final judgement is still out but the evidence is getting stronger and stronger. First, transparency. For companies, it no longer makes sense to hide anything. With digital empowerment of people worldwide, the right thing to do is to name problems for what they are and to see whether you can be part of the solution. Don’t hide dark things, not even deep down in the supply chain. It will come out; it will lead to consumer boycotts; it will damage the brand; it will undermine the trust-based relationship and so forth.

Secondly, foreign direct investment – the main vehicle through which business goes global – has undergone a paradigm shift. Only 10 years ago, it was still largely about having access to cheap resources, be it in the form of low labour costs or material input or extracting natural resources. Today, most foreign direct investment is about building markets... Why? Because economic growth has migrated away from the traditional centres from 20 years ago to the East and to the South. Business is increasingly making long-term investments. They want to grow with the market. And once you want to grow with the market over time, you become a stakeholder in society and you have an incentive to overcome barriers to growth... say a shortage of skilled people. You have an incentive to invest in vocational training because you want to grow over time. If there are high systemic corruption costs and risks, you have an incentive to engage in collective action to improve public procurement to reduce transaction costs which ar e risks to your brand, and a cost to the operation. If there is extreme discrimination of ethnic groups or on the basis of gender, you have an incentive to overcome that as a global citizen because you know that inclusiveness and diversity are the source of innovation... so the whole rationale for engagement has changed, thanks to the migration of economic growth, thanks to the rise of transparency which is irreversible like technological change itself.

Corruption is the biggest cancer in the world, and it’s everywhere…it enriches those who are already rich and it’s always at the expense of the disadvantaged.

The third reason is natural resource scarcity and the blurring line between what is public and what is private. Twenty years ago, for business, it was enough to have just one good relationship with one government, where they were headquartered. This government would give them protection, a license to operate, and they could manage the regulatory interface. Today, as business has gone global or is connected through the value chain, this doesn’t work anymore. Today, what used to be strictly public has a private character and vice versa... so for all these reasons, what used to be external to the firm now has material relevance for the firm itself and there’s a real incentive to find solutions on these issues.

The bottom line is if you want to be successful in the long term, you can no longer avoid this agenda. Environmental, social and governance issues matter. They matter not only in a public goods sense but increasingly they also matter in a material sense. We call this internally, the moral imperative...

UN News Centre: The Global Compact is the largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative in the world, now having over 12,000 participants. Which companies really stand out in terms of their efforts in this area?

Georg Kell: Companies stand out that are most globally integrated. The more a company is integrated, on average, the better its performance. That, I think, is generally true. That can be a small company. Often it’s the privately-owned companies which are not so well known by their global brand. I know so many heroes from Pakistan to Argentina who are working under the most challenging environments – be it security, corruption – and yet have a total dedication for long-term success. Or there are global brands, some of them very well known, who understand that the future can only be safeguarded if they act as corporate business statesmen and they’re part of the solution.

UN News Centre: This month the Compact is celebrating its 15th anniversary. What have been some of its greatest achievements over the years?

Georg Kell: Next week, we will take stock and look into the future. A major study will be released – Impact: Transforming Business, Changing the World – it’s based on months of work to assess the change that the Global Compact has produced. I don’t want to pre-empt it now but I just want to say that the biggest impact we had is changing mind sets on a truly global scale, not just in one country or in one sector but virtually across the globe where many, many companies now are aligned with the UN. They’re aligned with universal principles and they are on a journey of understanding that long-term success and alignment and support with UN goals goes hand in hand...

 

The Global Compact’s 10th Principle asserts that businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery. Seen here is a billboard in Namibia promoting anti-corruption. Photo: World Bank/Philip Schuler

UN News Centre: Later this year, Member States will adopt a global agenda for sustainable development. What is the Global Compact’s role in advancing this agenda?

Georg Kell: For two years now, we have mobilized our country networks to identify priorities and we’re very excited that many of our networks see in the SDGs an opportunity to accelerate and scale up collaboration. So it’s a natural fit. The Compact, from the beginning, had two strategic goals – first, to internalize universal principles... and second, to take action. The SDGs are a wonderful opportunity to accelerate what we call the second goal, the collaboration – business to business, business with civil society, business with governments. We have a number of important products in the pipeline which we’ll unveil in September...

I’m personally excited in particular about the goals in the SDGs which speak to the issue of governance, including corruption, because it’s arguably a priority issue and many of our networks around the world identify anti-corruption as priority number one... Corruption is the biggest cancer in the world, and it’s everywhere... Over $1 trillion gets lost just in emerging markets every year...The damage that is done is really heart-breaking. It undermines entrepreneurship; it undermines performance; it enriches those who are already rich; and it’s always at the expense of the disadvantaged.

UN News Centre: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned over the past 15 years?

Georg Kell: Number one: the enemy is us. Change is within us. All human beings have an enormous potential to do enormous good but also enormous bad. Ethics – knowing what’s right and wrong, fairness and justice – must be the basis of everything... Number two: what connects us is much stronger than what divides us. The world is so interconnected now that we have to build on what connects us. People everywhere have the same aspirations. People everywhere have the same desires, irrespective of culture or language...

Thirdly, I think we have to understand the past in order to see the future. In many parts of the world where conflicts are just under the carpet, it is usually associated with grievances of the past because there are different interpretations about history and these prejudices then live on; they live on and they can erupt easily. So even if it’s painful, I think people should reflect and talk about the past. Only when you clear the past and you can stand in front of it, can you see the future with clarity. Otherwise, your vision for the future is blurred.

I also believe the strongest power humanity has is idea power. Ideas can be used to enflame hatred and violence; ideas can be used to build peace and prosperity... It’s soft power, but it’s an enormously strong power. It’s stronger than anything else. It can defeat armies. It shapes human behaviour. It shapes our mind sets. So it’s a privilege, I would argue, working for an idea-based Organization. It’s an enormous privilege to see also how corporate sustainability based on United Nations values and principles is gaining momentum, how it is becoming a force of transformation within. And this agenda is irreversible, provided the world stays peaceful at large and is committed to openness. It’s a critical year, and with the SDGs in the making and the Paris climate talks, hopefully we can support rebuilding a shared understanding of humanity’s course for the future.

 

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