Apr 4th, 2011 8:46 PM UTC
By Roxane Philson
As a ONE member, you can never be sure what you’ll be doing in the name of fighting extreme poverty – it can have some funny twists… One day you might be calling your government to stop proposed budget cuts and the next you might be working with Bill Gates in Paris to promote action on vaccines. Ok, it doesn’t happen THAT often, but for a few of our French members today, that was their experience…
We met up this very bracing Monday morning at the Trocadero in Paris. ONE members were there to support Bill Gates in the first of a series artwork unveilings taking place over the next few days in Europe, and to get the message out. They also attempted to hold back the photographers fighting for the best spot (note to self: brush up on karate skills and never wear ballet flats to such events…).
Bill Gates used the unveiling to stress the need to finally put an end to Polio. For many of us it might come as a surprise that this disease still exists – in fact, since 1988, this vaccine, which only costs 13 cents, has been provided to billions of children and the number of cases is down more than 99%. But as with smallpox, they key is to eradicate this disease completely so that it can’t keep coming back. 13 cents to save a life… It gives me some perspective…I don’t think anyone can argue with that as a good investment.
Tonight is different again – an event with French politicians to persuade them their investments are worth it…
More to come…
Mar 8th, 2011 5:32 PM UTC
By Jessica Gomez-Duran
On Tuesday, my fellow members of the Africa Progress Panel and I met with President Sarkozy to urge him to put Africa’s development at the centre of his G8 and G20 presidencies. The need for doing so is still as compelling as it was six years ago when, prompted by the massed global ranks of the Make Poverty History movement, the G8 signed up to a series of historic commitments to tackle poverty in Africa.
In the full glare of the world’s media, the eight most powerful men on the planet made a solemn pledge to the weakest. The resultant debt cancellation and additional aid resources have contributed to five solid years of progress in Africa. Across the continent, we can see the living proof of this progress. Millions vaccinated, millions receiving access to life-saving AIDS treatment, millions protected from malaria and millions more in school. There has also been strong economic growth across Africa. Arguably, debt cancellation has allowed African countries some of the fiscal space needed to ride the storm of the economic crisis better than was feared. Thanks to the entrepreneurialism of African citizens and the generosity of the G8, the continent is on the move.
However, not all is rosy. It is a sad fact that the G8 is nowhere near fulfilling the majority of its commitments. Last year, its members did not even deliver one third of the promised increase in aid. Reasons range from the lack of political leadership and a credible and effective accountability mechanism, to the global economic crisis and the diminishing importance of the G8 and corresponding rise of the G20. The big question is now whether the latter will be a more effective body.
This year’s G20 meeting in Cannes is President Sarkozy’s opportunity to rehabilitate some of France’s lost reputation on Africa, and to show the kind of leadership the UK demonstrated in 2005. Indeed, will this be when France takes the lead where others have failed? Two topics deserve particular attention, and the first of these is governance. Africa has vast mineral wealth, much of it undiscovered, but little of the revenues generated are shared with the people of the continent. Instead, as so often in the past, profits are siphoned off by discreet and illegal partnerships with foreign companies in opaque and secret deals. The G20 must move the odds in the citizen’s favour by insisting on transparency in deal-making, and adopting legally binding measures at least as good as the legislation recently agreed in the US at the behest of senators Cardin and Lugar. As chair of the G20 anti-corruption working group, France can lead on this issue as well as in the fight against kleptocracy and in work to repatriate assets looted from African state banks by corrupt officials.
The second issue the G20 needs to address is the challenge of supporting sustainable and equitable growth in Africa. A package of trade support and investment can build on the continent’s great potential and give some rocket fuel to its legion of skilled managers and entrepreneurs. It should focus on regional integration in Africa, and the disastrous reality that only 10 per cent of the average African country’s trade is with other African countries. It should also harness the continent’s vast agricultural and renewable-energy potential. Africa has the means not just to lift itself out of need, but to help deal with some of the rest of the world’s needs for food and fuel.
The agreement on food security reached at L’Aquila must not be forgotten. Food crises have the potential to affect our world radically, by accelerating inflation and so impeding a return to growth, while increasing social unrest in developing regions. The G20 in Seoul started a decent process on this issue, but France is better placed to deliver on those plans.
The partnership most exciting for some, and threatening for others, is the evolving South–South relationship between the emerging powers of China, Brazil and India, and the developing power of Africa. Europe and America will grow only in irrelevance if we do not harness ourselves to these engines, and as we do so, we must impart values of transparency and accountability, rather than narrow interests and parochial concerns. The best way to share our values is to demonstrate them in our actions. Competition with China today should not mean that we copy their worst practices, but that we share the best of ours. We also need to improve African representation at the G20. Excluding one billion men, women, children, producers and consumers from global decision-making is ridiculous, self-defeating and wrong.
If President Sarkozy can begin to deliver on these concerns, then his G20 presidency will be judged a success.
Jan 31st, 2011 4:01 PM UTC
By Joseph Powell
Ever since the US passed legislation last July ensuring that all oil, gas and mining companies would have to be far more transparent in their financial reporting, we have been pushing hard for similar action in Europe. We want all extractive companies around the world to publish what they pay the governments of the countries where the operate – therefore empowering local anti-corruption groups with the information they need to hold their leaders accountable for revenue received.
This campaign received a big boost on the weekend with the publication of a letter from President Sarkozy of France to ONE co-founder Bono announcing that he was prepared to show leadership on the issue. Bono had previously written an op-ed for Le Monde calling for exactly that.
The English text of the letter says:
“In your article, you bring up the need for transparency in the area of natural resources’ extraction in Africa. I completely agree with you. France is organising an experts’ conference on this issue in March in Paris. As of now, I have decided to ask the European Union to adopt, as speedily as possible, legislation to compel industries in the extractive sector to disclose their payments to all countries in which they operate.”
So congratulations to President Sarkozy and his team for championing such an important issue. Transparency campaigners across Africa will now be looking to you to carry this forward – and ensure that the wave of transparency reform does not lose momentum.
Nov 11th, 2010 2:35 PM UTC
By Guillaume Grosso
Ill-gotten gains never prosper; except, it would seem, when falling into the hands of leaders of the some of the world’s poorest countries. It is estimated that the fortune misappropriated by some leaders in recent decades represents at least 100 billion dollars. Perhaps even 1,000 billion, according to the former head of the IMF, Michel Camdessus: money that could be used for the development of those countries who need it most.
The scourge appears to be even worse in countries with abundant mineral resources, petroleum and gas. In oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, for example, the GNP per capita is around 30,000 dollars, 10 times more than the average in Africa and almost as much as in country such as France. Yet, according to a World Bank study, 77% of the population live below the poverty line; and the African Development Bank assesses the maternal mortality rate to be among one of the highest in the world.
The looting organised by corrupt elites can be seen put to use in their lavish lifestyles, with luxury villas on the Côte d’Azur, limousines and expensive jewellery. In an attempt to bring an end to such practices the non-profit organisations Transparency International and Sherpa lodged a complaint in 2008 regarding the conditions under which very sizeable amounts of moveable and immovable assets were purchased in France by the Heads of State of the Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, as well as by members of their entourages.
The complaint was quickly blocked by the Paris Court of Appeal, which declared it inadmissible. But earlier this week, following months of uncertainty, the Court of Cassation finally ruled the complaint admissible, meaning that justice may now finally be done.
Good news is sometimes hard to come by, and so it’s with great pleasure that I’m able to share this news with you. It’s a wonderful victory for all of those men and women who believe that together we can build a fairer world.
Sep 21st, 2010 3:43 PM UTC
By Weldon Kennedy
Every show on the U2 360° Tour, I encourage my volunteers to try and out do every other previous group of volunteers. It’s a tough challenge: in every city I have a great group that works hard all day long. But from now on the challenge might be impossible, as the volunteers in Paris not only set a new record for sign ups, but doubled the previous record with a staggering 5,700 new members signed up. That’s around 200 sign ups per-volunteer!
The ONE team at the U2 show in Paris
But that wasn’t the only sign that there’s a lot of passion in Paris; the day before I was invited to a meeting with a few very active ONE members. Some of the group volunteered at last year’s concert, and the group has stayed in touch and grown since then. At the meeting they schemed up ways they could work together to spread the word about ONE, and mobilise in their communities.
Meeting ONE members in Paris
All told, it was an amazing stop along the tour, and one that bodes well for the future of our new French office.
Thanks to all the volunteers who met me the day before the show, and those of you who came to the concert and helped set the bar higher than I thought possible.
Oct 6th, 2009 9:27 AM UTC
By Weldon Kennedy
In Paris and London this weekend, ONE members came together – without any prompting – to start organising to take further action as ONE. At the core of both groups were long time ONE members who had their first chance to volunteer with ONE at the U2 concerts in Paris, London, Sheffield, and Cardiff.
I managed to meet up with the London crew, share a drink, and talk about what ONE has coming up and how everyone can be involved. In Paris (pictured), the team plotted out the organisation of their group and what work they would like to be doing moving forward.
If you’re an elected official in London or Paris, rest assured you’ll be hearing from these motivated ONE folks soon. And if you’re a ONE member here or across the Channel, leave a comment to say hi or bonjour and start getting more involved.
Jun 18th, 2009 6:43 PM UTC
By Oliver Buston
Last week ONE’s DATA report heavily criticised France for failing to keep its promises on the quantity of aid that is going to support economic development and poverty reduction in Africa. Since then there have been two interesting developments relating to the quality of French aid, which is of course just as important.
The first development was the French government’s decision to launch a new strategy to aid developing countries. The strategy will focus aid on 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They will receive 60% of France’s total development aid with a focus on health, education, climate change, agriculture and economic growth. If the strategy is properly implemented it should make French aid more effective, more predictable and more transparent. It should also make it easier for French citizens to hold their government accountable to their aid promises, and it should help citizens in African countries hold their governments more accountable for how that aid is spent.
The second development was the death of Omar Bongo Ondimba, Africa’s longest-serving leader and the man at the heart of a big corruption case in France. In many people’s eyes Omar Bongo was synonymous with all the worst aspects of what is known as “francafrique”.
These two developments give President Sarkozy and his team an opportunity to forge a brand new path in terms of France’s relationship with Africa. France can now give up some of the bad old ways and start to focus its African policy on the real needs of African citizens and their efforts to achieve democracy, good governance, economic growth, and poverty reduction. What is now needed is real leadership from the French government to keep its promises by both increasing aid and spending it in a smarter and more accountable way as they have promised.
If you want to read more about this, see these two great articles:
Sep 22nd, 2008 12:59 PM UTC
By Virginia Simmons
Bono has been blogging today from the United Nations’s Summit on the MDG’s in NYC. The below post he wrote after meeting with the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. You can read his complete posts at FT.com.
Tough meeting with the Président de la République of France. He’s a tough guy. We like tough guys because they get straight down to business. They don’t waste their time or yours. The French budget is out this Friday and in it we will see if France intends continuing its leadership role on the continent of Africa. In the last few years, French aid has been falling.
My point was that as much as Africa needs French aid and the energy that Sarkozy himself provides, he/we need Africa. Why? Africa has never been so strategically important as it is now, economically and politically. Just ask…
Read the full post here.
Jun 18th, 2008 11:29 AM UTC
By Josh Lozman
ONE just wrapped up the launch of the DATA Report 2008 in Paris. What an event! We had an amazing group of panelists that included rockstars, advocates, development experts and doctors. A room full of journalists seemed to get the message loud and clear: aid is delivering remarkable results across Africa. Now we need to get this message to the G8 so they can get to work on making sure that their commitments to Africa are met by 2010.
At the Press Club near the Arc de Triomphe, ONE was joined by: Bono; Bob Geldof; Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS; TB and Malaria, singer and activist Angelique Kidjo; Arunma Oteh, Vice President, Corporate Services of the African Development Bank and French tennis star Yannick Noah.
Stay tuned here for some footage of the event and an analysis of the report’s findings.
(You can also read the summary and download the whole report here.)
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
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