CHARLOTTE, N.C. – During a discussion co-hosted by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and ONE, a distinguished group of U.S. and foreign leaders made the case for continued international investment in fighting global poverty and disease.
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle stressed that American leadership in the effort to help the world’s poorest people live healthy, dignified lives has historically enjoyed bipartisan support.
“PEPFAR, President George W. Bush’s initiative to fight HIV/AIDS, is probably the epitome of what it means to be bipartisan today,” he said. Daschle also emphasized the increasing role of the private sector in international development, noting that “public-private partnerships are becoming a much bigger part of the foreign aid equation than ever before.”
Ashley Judd, a singer, actor, humanitarian activist and Tennessee delegate to the Democratic National Convention, called American foreign assistance, “simply the right thing to do.” She said that Americans have always responded to the moral obligation to help people suffering from extreme poverty and preventable diseases. Daschle added that foreign assistance is, in addition to a moral imperative, also in America’s national security and economic interests.
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai urged the United States to “help us help ourselves” and said the world has moved beyond solely “Afro-pessimism.” Former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said, too, that he’s glad that the conversation has moved beyond simply aid to development, including trade and private investment. But he expressed concern that the West might scale back its commitments to developing nations amid the global economic crisis, especially as China steps up its investments and influence in the developing world.
The discussion was broadcast live on C-SPAN and moderated by ONE President and CEO Michael Elliott. The panel, titled “Global Responses to Poverty and Human Development,” was part of NDI’s series at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte designed to explore America’s role in the world.