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USA: Summit Documents, 1
USA: Summit Documents, 1
Date distributed (ymd): 000227
Document reposted by APIC
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+
+US policy focus+
Over 5,000 delegates and participants gathered in Washington
February 16-20, 2000 for a "National Summit on Africa." There
were actually at least four related but distinctive gatherings
during the Summit. The first was the high-profile event of
plenaries, receptions and dinners, featuring Presidents Bill
Clinton, Daniel arap Moi and other dignitaries. There was the
deliberative process culminating in a document with 254 policy
recommendations. There were parallel programs on a host of
topics. Perhaps most important if least visible were the
countless informal meetings in and around the conference, in
corridors, restaurants and other venues.
This set of three postings contains material, both official
and critical, primarily relating to the high-profile event --
the only one on which there are now documents available in
electronic format. The National Summit has announced a press
conference on February 29 to present the National Plan of
Action, which is promised to be available later, along with
other materials, on the Summit's web site
(http://www.africasummit.org). Additional news coverage is
available at the Africa News web site
(http://www.africanews.org). APIC will post references to
additional material later as it becomes available.
This posting contains excerpts from the remarks by President
Bill Clinton. The other two postings contain a press release
from the Summit secretariat, a critical statement presented by
concerned delegates at the closing session, a letter from a
former Summit board member, and a round-up article from the
United States and Africa
Clinton Remarks at Opening of National Summit on Africa
The White House (Washington) February 17, 2000
(Distributed by the Office of International Information
Programs, U.S. Department of State.) [excerpts: for full text
Washington - The following is the White House transcript of
the President's remarks, as delivered:
The PRESIDENT: ... I want to say I'm honored to be in
the presence today of so many distinguished Africans.
Secretary Salim, thank you for your visionary remarks and
your leadership. President Moi, thank you for coming to the
United States and for giving me another chance to visit with
you and for the work we have done together. Vice President
Abubakar, thank you for what you are doing in Nigeria to give
that great country its true promise at long last. We thank
you, sir. ...
Secretary Salim said Africa lacks a strong constituency in
the United States. Well, I open this National Summit on
Africa with a simple message: Africa does matter to the
United States. ...
Africa matters not simply because 30 million Americans trace
their heritage to Africa, though that is profoundly important.
Not simply because we have a strong interest in a stable and
prosperous Africa -- though 13 percent of our oil comes from
Africa, and there are 700 million producers and consumers in
sub-Saharan Africa, though that is important. Africa's future
matters because the 21st century world has been transformed,
and our views and actions must be transformed accordingly. ...
The average American child growing up in the past saw African
nations as colorful flags and exotic names on a map, perhaps
read books about the wonderful animals and great adventures.
When colonialism ended, the colors on the flags were changed
and there were more names on the map. But the countries did
not seem nearer to most Americans.
That has all changed now. For the central reality of our time
is globalization. It is tearing down barriers between nations
and people; knowledge, contact and trade across borders
within and between every continent are exploding. ...
In this world, we can be indifferent or we can make a
difference. America must choose, when it comes to Africa, to
make a difference. (Applause.) Because we want to live in a
world which is not dominated by a division of people who live
on the cutting edge of a new economy and others who live on
the bare edge of survival, we must be involved in Africa.
Because we want to broaden global growth and expand markets
for our own people, we must be involved in Africa. Because
we want to build a world in which our security is not
threatened by the spread of armed conflict, in which bitter
ethnic and religious differences are resolved by the force of
argument, not the force of arms, we must be involved in
That is why I set out in 1993, at the beginning of my
presidency, to build new ties between the United States and
Africa; why we had the first White House conference, the
ministerial and that wonderful trip in the spring of 1998,
that I will remember for the rest of my life.
I went to Africa as a friend, to create a partnership. And we
have made significant progress. There are challenges that are
profound, but in the last two years we have seen thousands of
triumphs large and small. Often, they don't make the
headlines because the slow, steady progress of democracy and
prosperity is not the stuff of headlines.
But, for example, I wish every American knew that last year
the world's fastest-growing economy was Mozambique. Botswana
was second, Angola fourth. I wish every American knew that
and understood that that potential is in every African
nation. It would make a difference. We must know these things
about one another.
People know all about Africa's conflicts, but how many know
that thousands of African soldiers are trying to end those
conflicts as peacekeepers -- and that Nigeria alone, amidst
all its difficulties, has spent $10 billion in these
For years, Africa's wealthiest country, South Africa, and its
most populous, Nigeria, cast long, forbidding shadows across
the continent. Last year, South Africa's remarkable
turnaround continued as its people transferred power from one
elected president to another. Nigeria inaugurated a
democratically elected president for the first time in
decades. It is working to ensure that its wealth strengthens
its people, not their oppressors. These are good news
stories. They may not be in the headlines, but they should be
in our hearts and our minds as we think of the future.
No one here, no one in our government, is under any
illusions. There is still a lot of work to be done. ...
There are five steps in particular I believe we must take.
First, we must build an open world trading system which will
benefit Africa alongside every other region in the world.
(Applause.) Open markets are indispensable to raising living
standards. From the 1970s to the 1990s, developing countries
that chose trade grew at least twice as fast as those that
chose not to open to the world.
Now, there are some who doubt that the poorest countries will
benefit if we continue to open markets, but they should ask
themselves: what will happen to workers in South Africa and
Kenya without the jobs that come from selling the fruit of
their labors abroad? What will happen to farmers in Zimbabwe
and Ghana if protectionist farm subsidies make it impossible
for them to sell beyond their borders?
Trade must not be a race to the bottom, whether we're talking
about child labor, harsh working conditions or environmental
degradation. But neither can we use fear to keep the poorest
part of the global community stuck at the bottom forever.
Africa has already taken important steps, forming regional
trade blocks like ECOWAS, the East Africa Community, and
SADC. But we can do more. That is why our Overseas Private
Investment Corporation in Africa is working to support three
times as many business projects in 1999 than it did in 1998,
to create jobs for Africans and, yes, for Americans as well.
That is why we are working with African nations to develop
the institutions to sustain future growth -- from efficient
telecommunications to the financial sector.
And that is why, as soon as possible, we must enact in our
Congress the bipartisan Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.
This bill has passed in one version in our House and another
version in our Senate. I urge the Congress to resolve the
differences and send me a bill for signature by next month.
We must also realize that trade alone cannot conquer poverty
or build a partnership we need. For that reason, a second
step we must take is to continue the work now underway to
provide debt relief to African nations committed to sound
policies. (Applause.) Struggling democratic governments
should not have to choose between feeding and educating their
children and paying interest on a debt. Last March, I
suggested a way we could expand debt relief for the world's
poorest and most indebted countries, most of which are
African, and ensure the resources would be used to improve
economic opportunity for ordinary African citizens. Our G-7
partners embraced that plan.
Still, I felt we should do more. So in September, I announced
that we would completely write off all the debts owed to us
by the countries that qualified for the G-7 program -- as
many as 27 African nations in all. The first countries,
including Uganda and Mauritania, have begun to receive the
benefits. Mozambique, Benin, Senegal and Tanzania are
expected to receive benefits soon. Mozambique's debt is
expected to go down by more than $3 billion. The money saved
will be twice the health budget -- twice the health budget --
in a country where children are more likely to die before the
age of five than they are to go on to secondary school.
Last year, I asked Congress for $970 million for debt relief.
Many of you helped to persuade our Congress to appropriate a
big share of that. Keep in mind, this is a program religious
leaders say is a moral imperative, and leading economists say
is a practical imperative. It's not so often that you get the
religious leaders and the economists telling us that good
business is good morals. (Applause.) ...
A third step we must take is to give better and deeper
support to African education. Literacy is crucial -- to
economic growth, to health, to democracy, to securing the
benefits of globalization. Sub-Saharan Africa has the
developing world's lowest school enrollment rate. In Zambia,
over half the schoolchildren lack a simple notebook. In rural
parts of Tanzania, there is one textbook for every 20
children. That's why I proposed in our budget to increase by
more than 50 percent the assistance we provide to developing
countries to improve basic education, targeting areas where
child labor is prevalent. I ask other nations to join us in
A fourth step we must take is to fight the terrible diseases
that have afflicted so many millions of Africans, especially
AIDS and also TB and malaria. Last year, ten times as many
people died of AIDS in Africa as were killed in all the
continent's wars combined. It will soon double child
mortality and reduce life expectancy by 20 years. ...
The worst burden in life any adult can bear is to see a child
die before you. The worst problem in Africa now is that so
many of these children with AIDS have also already lost their
parents. We must do something about this. In Africa there are
companies that are hiring two employees for every job on the
assumption that one of them will die. This is a humanitarian
issue, a political issue and an economic issue.
Last month, Vice President Gore opened the first-ever United
Nations Security Council session on health issues, on a
health issue, by addressing the AIDS crisis in Africa. I've
asked Congress for another $100 million to fight the
epidemic, bringing our total to $325 million. I've asked my
administration to develop a plan for new initiatives to
address prevention, the financial dimensions of fighting
AIDS, the needs of those affected, so that we can make it
clear to our African partners that we consider AIDS not just
their burden but ours, as well. ...
The solution to this crisis, and to other killer diseases
like malaria and TB, has to include effective and expensive
vaccines. Now, there are four major companies in the world
that develop vaccines, two in the United States and two in
Europe. They have little incentive to make costly investments
in developing vaccines for people who cannot afford to pay
for them. So in my State of the Union address, I proposed a
generous tax credit that would enable us to say to private
industry, if you develop vaccines for AIDS, malaria and TB,
we will help to pay for them. So go on and develop them, and
we'll save millions of lives. ...
Now, I know that this is a difficult and sensitive issue. I
know there are cultural and religious factors that make it
very difficult to tackle this issue from a preventive point
of view. We don't have an AIDS vaccine yet. We have drugs
that will help to prevent the transmission from pregnant
mothers to their children, which I want to be able to give
out. We have other drugs that have given people with AIDS in
our country normal lives, in terms of their health and the
length of their lives. I want those to be available.
But the real answer is to stop people from getting the HIV
virus in the first place. ...
Finally, let me say there is one more huge obstacle to
progress in Africa, that we are committed to doing our part
to overcome. We must build on the leadership of Africans to
end the bloody conflicts killing people and killing progress.
You know the toll: tens of thousands of young lives lost in
the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea; thousands killed and
disfigured at unbelievably young ages in the civil war that
nearly destroyed Sierra Leone; 2 million killed by famine and
war in Sudan, where government sees diversity as a threat
rather than a strength, and denies basic relief to citizens
it claims to represent.
Most of the world's conflicts pale in complexity before the
situation in the Congo. At least seven nations and countless
armed groups are pitted there against each other in a
desperate struggle that seems to bring no one victory, and
everyone misery -- especially the innocent people of the
Congo. They deserve a better chance. ...
A year ago, I said if the nations of the region reached an
agreement that the international community could support, I
would support a peacekeeping operation in the Congo. The
region has now done so. The Lusaka cease-fire agreement takes
into account the sovereignty and territorial integrity of
Congo; the withdrawal of foreign forces; the security of
Congo's neighbors; the need for dialogue within the nation;
and most important, the need for the countries within Central
Africa to cooperate in managing the region's security. It is
more than a cease-fire; it is a blueprint for building
peace. Best of all, it is a genuinely African solution to an
There is still fighting in Congo. Peace will not happen
overnight. It will require steady commitment from the parties
and the unwavering support of the international community. I
have told our Congress that America intends to do its part by
supporting the next phase of the U.N.'s peacekeeping
operation in the Congo, which will send observers to oversee
the implementation of the agreement.
We need to think hard about what is at stake here. African
countries have taken the lead -- not just the countries
directly affected, either. They are not asking us to solve
their problems or to deploy our military. All they have asked
is that we support their own efforts to build peace, and to
make it last. We in the United States should be willing to do
this. It is principled and practical. ...
Finally, let me say that I intend to continue to work hard on
these things for every day that I am President. For me, the
remarkable decade of the 1990s began with the liberation
symbolized by Nelson Mandela's first steps from Robben
Island. In a few days, I will have the opportunity to join by
satellite the conference in Tanzania that President Mandela
is organizing to build peace in Burundi.
A lot of people look at Africa and think, oh, these problems
are just too complicated. I look at Africa and I see the
promise of Africa, and think, if the problems are complicated
now, think how much worse they'll be if we continue to ignore
Other people grow frustrated by bad news, and wish only to
hear good news. But empty optimism does Africa no more
service than groundless cynicism. What we need is not empty
optimism or groundless cynicism, but realistic hope. We need
to see the promise, the beauty, the dreams of Africa. We need
to see the problems clear and plain, and stop ignoring the
evident responses. We in the United States need to understand
that our obligations to be good partners with Africa are not
because we are certain that everything will turn out all
right, but because it is important. Because we're human
beings, we can never expect everything to turn out all right.
Africa is so incredibly diverse. Its people speak nearly
3,000 languages. It is not a single, monolithic place with
single, monolithic truths. A place of many places, each
defined by its own history and aspirations, its own successes
and failures. I was struck on my trip to Africa by the
differences between Ghana and Uganda, Botswana and Senegal --
between Capetown and Soweto. I was also struck by what bound
people together in these places. ...
If we wish to deepen peace and prosperity and democracy for
ourselves, we must wish it also for the people of Africa.
Africa is the cradle of humanity, but also a big part of
I leave you with this thought: when I think of the troubles
of Africa, rooted in tribal differences; when I think of the
continuing troubles in America, across racial lines, rooted
in the shameful way we brought slaves here from West Africa
so long ago, and our continuing challenges as we integrate
wave after wave after wave of new immigrants from new places
around the world; I am struck by the fact that life's
greatest joy is our common humanity, and life's greatest
curse is our inability to see our common humanity.
In Africa, life is full of joy and difficulty. But for too
long, the African people have lacked for friends and allies
to help the joys overcome the difficulties. The United States
will be a friend for life.
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary
objective is to widen international policy debates around
African issues, by concentrating on providing accessible
policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide
range of groups and individuals.