A New Global Compact: Nancy Soderberg

January 25, 2014 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Ambassador Nancy Soderberg speaks at TEDxJacksonville about the need to follow a new Global Compact.


This is Adalard he's 43 years old he lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. He has a nice life here's the house that he built. He’s very proud of that here's his family and the corn that he grows but his life is very fragile over the last two decades two wars have killed over five million people in the Congo that's the deadliest conflict since World War Two. First you've heard about it? Join most of the world. but what happens there matters and let me tell you why.

This is a photo that Adalard took just last month driving around his hometown those civilians they're at risk from soldiers, government soldiers rebel forces foreign and domestic. Adalard explains that we don't have enough to eat the soldiers do what they want they harass they steal they shoot people every day. He asks, who can we rely on? His existence is on the edge.

Now why should we care about Adalard? Simply put because we cannot stay safe and prosperous without the help of the developing world. Don't believe me? let me show you how the billions in the developing world are directly linked to our threats and opportunities. Take out those cell phones that I made you turn off a minute ago. Take a look at it. See that cobalt? Every electronic that you brought in here today with you has cobalt in it and fifty percent of the world's cobalt comes from the democratic Republic of the Congo. That war I was just telling you about it gets much worse and you’re not gonna have that cobalt or that cell phone. So what happens in the Congo matters.

The Congo has a lot more than just cobalt; it has tin, copper, diamond, gold. twenty-four trillion dollars worth of riches just below the surface and yet the people there like Adalard cannot enjoy those riches because there is no rule of law in the Congo. criminals can and do operate there with impunity they launder money traffic in human slaves, refugees flee out of the country and into neighboring countries and even here to the United States.

The notorious war criminal Joseph Kony the one who uses child soldiers uses the Congo as a safe haven. Rebels there support terrorists including al-Shabaab that blew up that mall in Kenya just last month killing seventy people. So what happens in the Congo can directly affect us and never forget that Osama bin Laden used two fail states, Sudan and Afghanistan when planning 9/11. So what happened here matters. States like the Congo failed state can directly affect our prosperity and security. now do you feel safe today, do you feel prosperous? I don’t. we've just come out of a recession, jobless recovery, stagnation. In the last year in the last recession we lost $14 trillion dollars of economic activity that a year's worth of economic activity the bottom seventy percent of workers saw their wages decline. So I don't feel prosperous and I don't feel safe.

We're still under the threat of terrorism cyber warfare those pirates in Somalia never forget al Qaeda or those bombers from Chechen. America is in their crosshairs now pick any threat that you care about infectious diseases, environmental degradation, turmoil in the Middle East or Pakistan perhaps you care about the threat to right whales, what ever it is, we cannot solve it on our own.

Now in times of economic uncertainty I recognize that sometimes the world seems like a chaotic mess and we're tired of being called upon to be the world's policeman when times are tough we want to withdraw from the world put up our barriers and put our head in the sand and Lord knows listening to the talk radio host or those political no nothing's blather on about global social welfare. Sometimes it almost sounds like a good plan

It does sound like a good plan I guess huh but we withdraw from the world at our peril. In today's world our solutions depend on the actions of the rest of the world just look at the numbers, there are three hundred million Americans but there are 7 billion people on this planet and that number's going to nine billion by the middle of the next of this century and that growth in 2 billion is not here in the United States we simply cannot go it alone but when we act globally, think globally. We prosper. 40 percent of the fortune 500 companies today were founded by immigrants or one of their children Steve Jobs father came from Syria, and this year Apple bested coca-cola as the best global brand. 14 percent of our GDP comes from exports imagine how much more prosperous we could be if we sold more to those billions across the globe and we can, if we just help them first to prosper.

I wanna start a very different conversation one in which the world North, South, East and West understand that we all have the same struggle need to work together I call it the new Global Compact and it can revolutionize the 21st century and make us more prosperous and more secure what if we all understood that we live on the same planet and we all want the same things security and prosperity and that we can't have either if the others don’t. Sound like common sense doesn't it? have you ever noticed the common sense is very rare? think about it. The billions in the developing world they're not in Al Qaeda's crosshairs they don't worry about cyber security.

What they worry about is having enough to eat clean water to drink, staying out of the crosshairs of deadly conflict but they too want prosperity they want a nice home a good job and a decent life for their kids and so do we. We want a nice home a good job and a decent and better life for our children and what’s it going to take to get there I define the new Global Compact as the haves and have-nots address each other's challenges and we both become more prosperous and more secure sound fanciful?

It's not. but what’s it going to take to get the world to act on this new Global Compact. US visionary leadership no one else can drive such a consensus. Now there are those who think we're not exceptional, but we remain the only superpower and when we fail to act the world falters but when we lead things happen. Now riding the superpower ship of the United States is not easy much less changing the behavior. The rest of the world and the US president does not have superpowers and the conditions have to be right but there's in progress in three key areas, that make the time right for us to act on the global compact: First those crazies of the auto housing and the financial crisis they’re largely on the right track well we still got some work to do that makes it possible, frees up our president to act. The rising middle power are emerging in asymmetries are receding that’s a game-changer that makes it possible for this new Global Compact to come to fruition now first we have to make some institutional changes if you've noticed were still in that time of economic uncertainty.

We still face stagnant recoveries we aren’t past the foreclosures Europe is still mired in crises the combination of austerity programs in economic growth is not enough even a child in Ireland understands that we've not done enough to help the poor debtor nations of Europe and it's time that we ended this scenario where banks are too big to fail we need common-sense reforms like getting banks that have debt swaps in running hedge funds in private equity enterprises these reforms are essential. And next, those rising powers, we need to give them a seat at the global decision-making table that means giving them more shares in chairs at the IMF more leadership's roles at the World Bank and a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. And with those new leadership seats come responsibility to act with this and implementing the new Global Compact.

And if we take these international institutional changes it will set the stage for the new Global Compact to come to fruition the solutions are there for the taking what is lacking is political will, a sense of urgency in an understanding that we're all in this together those who opposes coercive action call it whimsical social work it is anything but. This is not social work it is a critical investment in our own security and prosperity and if we fail to act and implement the new Global Compact our future will be defined by Others to our peril I understand this is not easy.

When I was at the white house I understand how hard it is to get through that inbox and focus on the big picture of the day and to me this is very personal I was at the White house while the Rwandan genocide occurred killing 800 thousand people shortly after that I went to Rwanda and I'll never forget walking through a grassy field in stepping over a bone only to realize it was a human femur bone. Walking into a church and seeing bodies strewn across the floor having been hacked to death by machetes including that of a little girl still in her Sunday best so we must act.

It's time the United States take up the mantle the new global compact start a new conversation and lay the foundation for it to emerge we can do this if we can build the political will the solutions are there for the taking. Let me explain there are billions in the world just like Adalard in the Congo and there are billions more who have it much worse who struggle on the bare minimum trying to just find enough to eat and stay out of those crosshairs of deadly conflict they see their children die from dirty water malaria, HIV-aids, one in seven does not have enough to eat one in ten can't find clean water. Three million die of it but if we help them with those problems they can help us with ours

So I said a minute ago that the solutions were there for the taking, what are they?We know what we need to do we need to end extreme poverty the UN has a plan to do just that we need to break down trade barriers so the world's farmers don't live in povertyand we need to get ahead of the global water and climate crisis and help the developing world do so too and we need to build up institutions and infrastructure to sustain this progress and if we do this what do we get in return they’ll help us fight terrorism, address the crisis of cyber threats, open their good their markets to our goods, and play by the rules so you see if we both act on a new global compact we can achieve global prosperity and security. So that brings me back to Adalard in the Congo

If we help end that war in the Congo they'll help rid the country of terrorists and criminals who threaten us and we can help them develop that twenty four trillion dollars of riches just beneath the earth and yes you can have the cell phone you want what Adlard really wants to do is move from the Tax Office and trade in those minerals; he's tried to trade in copper and tin but he can’t compete with the rebels who steal the countries wealth but if we act and help him move from the Tax Office to the commodity trading floor we will both be more secure and prosperous
does all this sound impossible, fanciful?

May be so today, but if we think differently, act boldly, and demand action, we can truly change the world.

Thank you.