Power Dispersed, Responsibility Shared: Britain’s Role In Building Coalitions For ChangeEaster Banquet, Mansion HouseApril 22nd, 2009
My Lord Mayor, Your Excellencies, Aldermen, Mr Recorder, Sheriffs, Ladies and Gentlemen, the world we work in has changed radically in the last year. First by the economic crisis. Then by a new administration in the world’s only superpower. Alone, either would change diplomacy. Together they create a massive opportunity.
The economic crisis has brought down governments – in Hungary, Latvia, the Czech Republic, and Iceland. But it is also opening up space to challenge old orthodoxies, and question old solutions which are in fact not solutions at all. The consequences for the second decade of the Millennium will be as far reaching as 9/11 was for the first decade.
In this context, the election of a new president in the world’s only superpower, is of particular significance.
In the 1940s Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman ended two decades of isolationism and set the country firmly on a path of multilateralism. Transformational presidencies such as these redefine America's relationship with the world by bringing new values and vision at a time of crisis.
We do not yet know if President Obama will come to be seen as a transformational President. What we do know is that he has set a transformational agenda - challenging the boundaries of conventional wisdom on nuclear disarmament, on how to engage Iran, on climate change, and now on Cuba.
And the biggest transformation in this new agenda is the insistence that while superpowers can shape the world, alone they cannot save it. That is a big change for America. But it is also a big change for the rest of us.
The old comforts – either that superpowers are to blame for the world’s problems or that they will provide the world’s solutions – are gone. Instead, there is a new contract – that in a world where power is more dispersed responsibility must be better shared.
No-one should imagine that such a bold agenda will be easily delivered. My message tonight is that at a moment of great international danger, we have a great diplomatic opportunity; we need a collective effort to tackle the problems we face and that Britain is ready to share that responsibility. We will be ambitious coalition builders when times demand tough action and when what is needed is the open hand. Our purpose will be to renew old alliances and forge new partnerships. These are the foundations for a new multilateral system. We will embrace our responsibilities as a country privileged in its wealth, networks, assets and power. And we will work with every country in this room to tackle shared risks and pursue common goals.
First, the economy. There are those say that the Anglo-Saxon model of light regulation and open markets is to blame for the current crisis. Yet to respond by pulling down the shutters on global markets would only stifle both the investment and the innovation we need to grow out way out of this crisis. We do need to learn the lessons of previous mistakes, and to frame regulatory procedures that command global support, but the priority now is action to minimise the depth and duration of this recession and to ensure that the upturn is sustainable.
In today’s budget the Chancellor showed how Britain is determined to emerge stronger from this crisis. But this recession can only be tackled through coordinated global action. That is what the London summit was about. We now need to see through the commitments made on 2 April.
* Delivering on the national fiscal expansion programmes as well as the $1.1 trillion promised to support global trade and our IFIs;
* Resisting measures to protect national industries at the expense of global competition;
* And building confidence by strengthening regulation and reforming the global banking system.
And just as we built the success of the London Summit on engagement and cooperation, so we will build the follow up on those principles.
Second, last year the UK became the first country in the world to set legally binding targets to cut its carbon footprint. Today we announced the first set of carbon budgets to limit our emissions.
This year, we will be pushing for a bold global deal at Copenhagen. To meet our objective of keeping global temperature rises below 2 degrees, we need nothing less than a 50% reduction in global emissions by 2050.
To deliver this the deal in Copenhagen will need to have five elements:
* Mitigation. All countries must reduce their emissions, but developed countries need to do more and take on deep and binding targets.
* Adaptation. Climate change is already a reality, and so funding to adapt to the climate change already in train must also be a priority.
* Carbon pricing. The development of a global carbon market and other mechanisms to fund mitigation and adaptation - Nick Stern’s latest estimate is that we should be spending around 2% of global GDP on this.
* Technology transfer. Cooperation in developing low carbon technology so that all countries can benefit.
* And finally as upwards of 18% of global emissions come from forestry, deforestation must be included in the deal and part of a future carbon market.
Third, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. When I was growing up people were either unilateralists or multilateralists. But in truth the world had little faith that the multilateralists were serious about disarmament while they knew that unilateralists would never be able to deliver.
Multilateralism is not an excuse to avoid disarmament but a safe way of achieving it. We will play our part in delivering on the Non Proliferation Treaty that the vast majority of countries in this room have signed. Equally we are determined that those that seek to proliferate will have no excuse. Proliferation is contrary to the NPT just as disarmament is integral to it.
So as the Prime Minister said in his speech in March, our long-term goal is a world free of nuclear weapons. So we will find new ways to give non-nuclear states access to nuclear energy. But we need to respond swiftly and robustly when countries breach their obligations, as the UN Security Council did when North Korea attempted to launch a satellite using ballistic missile technology.
That leaves Iran, whose nuclear ambitions are a threat to stability in a very unstable part of the world, with Arab States and Israel both expressing very serious concern at their intentions.
We have no quarrel with the Iranian people, or their right to choose their own government, or their right to civilian nuclear power. But as a member of the UN Security Council we cannot stand to one side as they act in defiance of their international obligations as set out in successive UN Security Council Resolutions. And as a signatory of the NPT, as Iran is, we cannot stand to one side as they refuse to cooperate with the IAEA, leading the Agency to conclude that they are unable to verify Iran's programme as being for exclusively peaceful purposes.
In the years since 1979 there have been a number of false starts in repairing Iran’s relations with the world. Historians can argue over who was to blame, but one thing is clear about the present. Iran will never have a better opportunity than it does today. President Obama is holding out his hand. But they need to respond positively, not with negative rhetoric and dangerous actions. They have one chance; they owe it to their people to use it wisely; and we all have a responsibility to make clear to them the folly of confrontation.
Fourth, twenty years ago every regional conflict was seen through the Cold War prism. Now that prism has been smashed. Today’s conflicts won’t be resolved without the superpower but they won’t be solved by the superpower alone.
That is true in Afghanistan. NATO Allies need to respond to the additional US commitments by stepping up their own efforts, whether military or civilian. And those within the region – including Pakistan, India and Iran – have a key role to play in supporting development and security.
It is also true in the Middle-East. The Quartet supports a two state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, providing security and justice for Israelis and Palestinians. So does Britain, based on 1967 borders, with Jerusalem the capital of both countries, and the right terms for refugees. Israelis and Palestinians will not be able to solve this on their own - US leadership will be essential. But Europe and Arab states need to strengthen President Obama’s hand by demonstrating that they will go the extra mile to support a just and permanent solution. That is why the Arab Peace Initiative – which offers Israel normal relations with the Arab world in return for a Palestinian state – is so valuable and important. The EU must also think ambitiously about how it can support peace, from security to refugee compensation.
The need for a coalition for change holds true in Africa too. The continent needs the world’s help not as a substitute for African expertise and engagement, but in support of it.
In Sudan the US, UK and Norway played a central role in support of the North-South peace agreement, but only the parties to that deal can implement it.
In Eastern DRC the UN peacekeeping mission has been vital but it is only through the DRC and Rwandan Governments working together to dismantle the illegal armed groups that peace has a chance.
And in Somalia the Security Council has deferred proposals for a UN intervention on the grounds that an African Union force would be more effective. We applaud what President Sharif is beginning to do to create a more broadly-based government capable of tackling the chronic insecurity which has plagued the country for so long.
With the eyes of the world on Sri Lanka, and fears of mass civilian casualties, the British position is clear.
The protection of civilians is a fundamental tenet of international humanitarian law - both the Government and the LTTE have an absolute obligation to put the protection of the civilian population first.
Let me also address the dire humanitarian danger – and the danger of further death and destruction – in North Eastern Sri Lanka.
Tonight the UNSC will receive a briefing from the UN Secretary General’s Chief of Staff Vijay Nambiar. The British position is clear. We have called for a ceasefire again and again. The protection of civilians is a fundamental tenet of international humanitarian law. This applies to both sides. The Government of Sri Lanka needs to stop its military offensive, allow full UN and humanitarian access, provide safe passage out of the no fire zone, and cooperate with the UN in supporting the tens of thousands of internally displaced persons. The LTTE must allow civilians to leave. And this must be a first step towards the renunciation of violence and terrorist activity.
This is an issue for the international community. It needs urgent attention. And on the basis of Chief of Staff Nambiar’s presentation this evening, we will propose further steps for international action.
The European Union
This agenda – economic stability, climate change, nuclear proliferation and conflict reduction – is an agenda that requires new coalitions to deliver change. Britain will be part of these coalitions bilaterally, but also multilaterally.
If you sit with us on the Security Council we will be seeking your support to stabilise conflict zones, build fragile states and tackle the threat from nuclear weapons; and we will be seeking your support too to help civilians in danger, from Sri Lanka to Zimbabwe.
If you sit with us in NATO we will seek your support in defending our borders at home but also addressing threats abroad.
In the OSCE you’ll hear me arguing for democracy and the rule of law throughout Eastern Europe and central Asia.
In the Commonwealth – an organisation with 53 members spanning four continents representing almost a third of the world population and a fifth of all global trade – as we prepare for the Heads of Government meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in November, we will be working to promote good governance and build partnerships to tackle issues such as climate change and international institutional reform.
To those of you from EU Member States I say that our challenge is to show that the EU is not just a grouping of geographic fate but a partner of positive choice. We must be confident in our sense of achievement and bold in our ambition.
The EU has the biggest single market in the world. Let us set regulations for low-carbon cars and products that drive green innovation.
The EU has the biggest aid budget in the world. Let us shift spending to places like Pakistan, which has been receiving less than half a euro per head of population, compared to over ten times as much in other, more developed parts of the world.
The EU has 2 million troops in uniform. Let us raise the percentage deployable from a meagre 5 per cent.
EU membership has helped to bring peace and democracy to Eastern Europe. Let us therefore recognise that wider has meant stronger for Europe, and make the case for membership in the Western Balkans and Turkey.
The EU has had enough of institutional quarrels. Let us therefore, finally, pass the Lisbon Treaty to focus the EU on delivering this agenda, to give greater coherence to our actions abroad, and to make the EU into a more serious foreign policy player.
The events of the last year have given multilateralism a new impetus. As China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa sat at the G20 table, making their case with clarity and passion, and the G8 listened, I knew the world had changed in a fundamental way. That is our opportunity.
If responsibility is the new watchword for our companies and banks, so too must it be for nations and states. Power dispersed but responsibility shared.
The concept of 'responsible sovereignty' should be our guide. Nation-states must retain their primacy but take shared decisions on the basis of a shared responsibility to manage international risks and to buttress the rights of citizens everywhere.
Britain is a country ready to play its part in striving for a diplomacy of transformation, whilst recognising that this diplomacy will require patience, realism and deep reserves of persistence.
We came together as an extended G20 for the London summit under the chairmanship of Gordon Brown. We will stay true to our commitments to an open economy, because this will make us all more prosperous. We are fully engaged in Afghanistan and Pakistan in confronting and containing the menace of international terrorism; absolutely determined on climate change and at the forefront of efforts to deliver the Millennium Development Goals.
Britain today is a diverse country which knows that it must earn its place at the table through achievement and commitment, not history and nostalgia. Our interests and our values mean we stand ready to take our share of the responsibility to build the coalitions and develop the bold solutions required to tackle the problems we all face.
To all the diplomats here tonight we pay tribute to you. In moments of global crisis such as this your role, bringing together the different parts of the international community, forging new alliances and building that sense of shared responsibility is more important than ever.
To the Lord Mayor, for all you do for this country in your capacity as Ambassador for our financial services industry I applaud you. The industry has taken a big hit over the last year. But I am in no doubt that the City of London remains an important asset for Britain, and a vital source of wealth and jobs in the years ahead.
And, Lord Mayor, for your hospitality tonight we offer a toast – to the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress.