Swiss envoy calls for improved development aid

Ambassador Maurer says UN members must honour their commitments Keystone

Switzerland’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York has called for improved development aid within the framework of planned reforms of the world body.

This content was published on April 25, 2005 - 21:54

Peter Maurer also urged industrialised nations on Monday to assume their financial responsibility, in a speech before the UN General Assembly.

"The international community does not need to set any new objectives for development; it must implement those that were set at the Millennium Summit and at the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development," he said.

"In other words, we must honour our commitments. For the industrialised countries, this means carrying out our part of the work concerning the quality and volume of public aid for development, the mobilisation of additional financial resources, and opening up markets to developing countries."

But Maurer added that it was also "crucially important" that developing countries take steps to formulate and implement strategies which were appropriate for sustainable development, and that they harness local resources as much as possible.

Contribution evaluation

At the end of May Switzerland will publish a report on its contribution towards the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set in 2000 and will later this year evaluate its own strategy of development cooperation, its portfolio of bilateral projects and its multilateral engagement.

When Switzerland joined the UN in 2002, it confirmed its intention to reach 0.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for development aid by 2010.

Maurer said that in the light of current developments, the government had decided to re-evaluate the Swiss contribution to the implementation of the MDGs "in the near future".

Earlier this month the UN Development Programme head, Mark Malloch Brown, slammed Switzerland over the size of its official development-aid budget.

He argued that the country was cutting its contributions at a time when others were doing the opposite, adding that Switzerland had still not achieved its often-stated goal of contributing 0.4 per cent of GDP to development aid.

Gender equality

In other remarks, Maurer said a central part of Switzerland’s development policy was to encourage equality of the sexes because it was "fundamental for the promotion of balanced development".

And Switzerland supported the proposal of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to make the fight against climate change a central priority for the protection of the environment.

"It is necessary to plan now a strategy and new measures for the period after 2012, when the initial commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires."

"This climate regime must not only define the new commitments of the industrialised countries but also ensure the more effective participation of the developing countries," he added.

Maurer also commented that Switzerland favoured the setting-up of a global early-warning system for natural disasters.

Risk reduction

"To this end the implementation of risk reduction strategies should become a priority at national and local levels," the ambassador said.

"Concerted action needs to be taken immediately at all levels to reduce permanently and tangibly risks and vulnerability to natural disasters in the world."

"We are convinced that there are close links between the prevention of disasters, sustainable development and the fight against poverty," Maurer added.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

In 2004, worldwide official development aid to developing countries increased by 4.6 per cent in real terms compared with 2003, mainly because of aid given to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The amount donated by the world’s 22 richest countries totalled $78.6 billion in 2004, which represented 0.25 per cent of their combined gross national income.
The United States remains the highest donor in terms of actual money, followed by Japan, France, Britain and Germany. Switzerland comes in 15th position.
Only Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden have reached the aim of 0.7 per cent of GDP fixed by the UN in 1970.

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