TUESDAY 16 JULY 2002
Mr Tony Baldry, In the Chair
Memorandum submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Examination of Witnesses
BARONESS AMOS, a Member of the House of Lords, Parliamentary Secretary of State, MR TOM FLETCHER, Private Secretary and MS SALLY HEALY, Special Adviser on NEPAD, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and MR GRAHAM STEGMANN, Africa Director, Department for International Development, examined.
(Baroness Amos) There is no doubt that conflict has destroyed or has the potential to destroy many countries in Africa. Both in terms of our foreign policy priorities and also in terms of our development priorities, it is absolutely critical that we not only deal with the countries that are currently in conflict but that we try to work to prevent conflict and, in that sense, Africa is the continent where we have to put in our best efforts. The G8 Africa Action Plan makes specific reference to the conflicts in DRC, Angola and Sudan because there was very strong feeling that, with concerted international effort, we could consolidate the very fragile peace in Angola following the signature of agreement between UNITA and the Government of Angola and that there is a real opportunity in the DRC and we saw last week that, in the margins of the OAU meeting in Durban, there were some positive signs about the possibility of greater progress in DRC. We also feel that the work we have been doing with the US and with the Norwegians in Sudan could also bear fruit in the coming year. These are sensitive and complicated areas where we need to work with our African partners, where we need to support the initiatives that are coming out of Africa and where we need to ensure that the role played by the international community is a positive and not a negative one. In saying that, I am thinking particularly about the fact that countries like ourselves and France, and Belgium to a certain extent, have a particular history in those countries and it is very important indeed that we do not bring the negative elements of that history into our consideration of the future of those countries. We have seen the commitment by this Government to work collaboratively across Government with the establishment of the Conflict Prevention Pool and that has been very important indeed. On Sierra Leone, we know that we need to work very hard to consolidate the democratic process there. We are all very pleased indeed at the outcomes of the election and that we managed to have an election process that was broadly judged by the international community to reflect the wishes of the people of Sierra Leone. I myself will be chairing a meeting of the Security Council in New York on Thursday looking at the Mano River Union because we must take on board what is happening in Liberia and Guinea and the potential that continues to exist for destabilising Sierra Leone in that respect. So, we recognise the importance of dealing with conflict, not just in terms of resolution but prevention and consolidating peace when it happens.
(Baroness Amos) In countries like Nigeria, for example, where we have seen a number of different ethnic conflicts arising over the years, you feel it is important that we not only work with the Government of Nigeria with respect to those conflicts in ensuring that they do not spread across the country - we must remember that a quarter of all Africans live in Nigeria - but that it is important for us to work with the Government of Nigeria to ensure that the right kind of secure and stable environment exists within the country. So, it is working on areas like working with the Nigerian Government with respect to reform of the armed forces and working with them on reform of the police services, for example. It is that kind of work that must improve in terms of conflict prevention.
(Baroness Amos) I think there are probably three different elements in there. Can I first of all say that, in a way, NEPAD was not a bolt from the blue in the sense that there was a process that started off with something called the Millennium Africa Plan which was brought through and developed by President Mbeki at the end of the 1990s. That was brought through together with an initiative by President Wade of Senegal which was the Omega Plan, which was very much about infrastructure development in Africa. That then became the New Africa Initiative which became the New Partnership for Africa Development. So, there was a process of development over three years. In terms of the structure and how I think Africans want to see this development developed, there is no doubt that there was a discussion about the best institutional arrangements for NEPAD. When this was first considered, it was very much seen an exclusive process where a number of like-minded governments in Africa could work with a number of like-minded governments in the west and then demonstrate the value of working together in terms of promoting development. By last year, what had happened was that the New African Initiative, which was considered at last year's OAU meeting, was brought into the structure of the OAE, so it became an inclusive rather than an exclusive process, but with a small secretariat funded by the South Africans and located in South Africa operating separately to the OAU but delivering a concept that had been endorsed by the OAU. At the most recent meeting in Durban, there was still ongoing discussion as to how this will work in practice. We continue to have the secretariat which will service NEPAD but there is an Implementation Committee which is made up currently of 15 Heads of State and this will be expanded to 20 Heads of State chaired by President Obasanjo. The peer review process which has been agreed will now be brought under the umbrella of the African Union. We do have some concerns about that in the sense that the African Union is growing up now out of the process that was the OAU. We have discussed in the past with our colleagues in Africa the fact that it can be a somewhat bureaucratic structure with which we have to deal. So, we do have some concern that we do not want to see the lightness of touch which we had in developing NEPAD through the NEPAD Secretariat and the Implementation Committee lost by the fact that there is now greater integration into the OAE structure. However, I think it is much too early to say whether or not there will be a superstructure. I think that the core objective for African countries, as it has been explained to me, is that they would like countries to self-select in and recognise that NEPAD will bring them benefits rather than countries being excluded from NEPAD at the outset of the process. In terms of the civil society agenda, concerns have been expressed by civil society organisations in Africa, but also in the UK and in other countries, that there had been a lack of consultation with civil society organisations with respect to the development of NEPAD. One of the things that we have been trying to say is that this is not an exclusive process. While it is important to recognise that the leadership of NEPAD is coming from within Africa and from within African governments, civil society organisations have been arguing over many years that they want to see that kind of leadership demonstrated by governments in Africa. To then argue with the governments that then have a vision and demonstrating that leadership I think is slightly problematic. Having said that, I do think it is important that the consultation processes continue with civil society organisations. There have been some over the last year and African leaders themselves are committed to continuing that consultation.
(Baroness Amos) The process that has been developed is that the UN Economic Commission on Africa has been working with the NEPAD Secretariat to develop the core elements of a peer review process which would be used within the context of NEPAD. That peer review process is extremely comprehensive and quite lengthy. I would be very happy to ensure that copies are made available to the Committee, but it runs through the structure of the peer review process and the fact that participation will be open to all Member States of the African Union. It is proposed that the operations of peer review process would be directed and managed by a panel of between five and seven eminent persons who would be Africans who had distinguished themselves in careers that are considered to be relevant to the work of the peer review mechanism and it is proposed that the members of the panel would serve up to four years. The paper then goes into the types of the peer review mechanism and the programme of action and identifies four types of review. The first would be a country review which would be the base review carried out within 18 months of a country becoming a member of the African peer review process. Then there would be a periodic review that would take place every two to four years. In addition to that, a member country could ask for an additional review that is not part of the mandated periodic reviews and, if there were early signs of impending political or economic crisis in the member country, that would be sufficient cause for instituting a review. So, it is an extremely comprehensive process. It then goes through what the stages of the peer review process would be. I think the test will be the implementation of this. A considerable amount of work has gone into developing the peer review process, but the acid test will be implementation once the weaknesses have been identified in member countries in terms of political and economic governance and recommendations have been made with respect to ways of dealing with that, the extent to which that is taken on board by member countries and the process that is used by other countries to hold those countries accountable to the recommendations that have been agreed.
(Baroness Amos) The link with NEPAD is absolutely clear. From the African perspective, the African peer review mechanism is the core element of the NEPAD process. This is about African leaders talking about holding each other accountable and the peer review mechanism which has been developed for NEPAD is central to that. In terms of the processes which are gone through PRSBs, the relationship between the two has not yet really been thought through and there are elements of the peer review process which are very similar to the elements that countries go through when they are developing a poverty reduction strategy. So, this is further work which I think will be developed as the peer review mechanism comes on stream. May I just say one further thing in relation to that. One of the issues we have been working very hard to ensure is that we do not burden countries too much with respect to PRSB process and I think that one of the issues we would have to work to ensure is that the capacity of resources of African countries is not all channelled into PRSBs and/or doing the African peer review mechanism which actually then prevents implementation of the strategies and policies which will deal with poverty reduction.
(Baroness Amos) It will be voluntary in the sense that countries will choose to opt in and, yes, it will be a transparent process and the documents will be published.
(Baroness Amos) There have been discussions about indicators. There are complicated indicators that look at what is happening to a country in terms of its economy, looking specifically at some of the macro-economic indicators but also political indicators including the state of its legal structure, for example whether a country has a parliament or not, how often it has elections and a whole range of indicators that fall squarely within governance criteria.
(Baroness Amos) What currently exists is a process within the OECD, which is a peer review process for member countries of the OECD. What has been proposed is that African countries could participate in those peer reviews of those OECD countries with the agreement of those OECD countries. There has been a long discussion within the G8 about the notion of mutual accountability and what this actually means because the core of the G8 Africa is the establishment of a new partnership between the G8 and African countries. What that new partnership is about is that African countries commit themselves through the African peer review process to putting in place and creating the right kind of enabling environment for, for example, investment, putting in place the right kind of structures and policies in terms of governance. What the G8 then pledge to do is to reward those countries that deliver on those improvements in terms of additional support to facilitate their development. The Prime Minister has described it as a 'deal'. That is the core of the G8 Africa Action Plan.
(Baroness Amos) President Bouteflika.
(Baroness Amos) Can I first of all say that the group that is the core group in terms of NEPAD actually involves five leaders: Presidents Mbeki, Obasanjo, Bouteflika, Mubarak and Wade. They are the core, and then there are the 15 who form the Implementation Committee as I mentioned earlier. There has been a great deal of scepticism about the NEPAD process and much of this has been around what is happening in Zimbabwe. I think we all recognise and condemn the continuing levels of harrassment and violence that we see in Zimbabwe. We are all appalled by the humanitarian crisis and the fact that half the population could need supplementary feeding by March of next year. We have been disappointed by some of the reaction by our African colleagues to what has happened in Zimbabwe but we have made progress. The Commonwealth perestroika, which included President Mbeki and President Obasanjo, after the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in March, together with Prime Minister Howard of Australia, suspended Zimbabwe from the Councils of the Commonwealth. Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo have worked tirelessly. You will recall that last year, President Obasanjo, facilitated the meeting in Abuja where we sought to deal particularly with land reform in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe made commitments at that meeting which it has not kept and President Obasanjo had worked tirelessly before that process and since that process to actually try and bring about some change in Zimbabwe, and Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo had sought to bring the two sides together by facilitating a process of dialogue between the two parties which had broken down. I know that they have both given fairly strong messages to Roger Mugabe, but I think it is very difficult - and we ourselves have seen this - to fight the degree of international condemnation of Zimbabwe. It is very difficult in a country where those who are taking leadership positions in their country do not appear to care one jot as to what is happening to their people. We have seen the product of economic mismanagement in Zimbabwe which is having terrible consequences on other countries in the region. So, there is no doubt that the situation in Zimbabwe has cast a shadow over the NEPAD process, but it is out strong view that we cannot hold an entire continent to ransom on the basis of what is happening in one country. In terms of peer review process and your question regarding what confidence we have, I think we will have to see what the peer review process delivers. In terms of our own aid budget at the moment, we are already committed to working with those that are committed to the reform agenda. We of course continue to give humanitarian assistance to countries that do not need that reform criteria, but we will not give significant levels of bilateral assistance to countries that do not meet our reform criteria and that will continue to be the case and that will be the case with respect to NEPAD and the G8 Africa Action plan because the core of the Action Plan is a commitment to good governance, to governing justly, to ensuring that countries adhere to the rule of law.
(Baroness Amos) I have two things to say in relation to that. The first and very important point is that Africa is made up of very different countries; they are in very different places and different stages of development. So, you have countries which are in the midst of conflict, countries coming out of conflict and countries which have the potential to be mired in conflict if we do not work on our conflict prevention agenda. We, in the last two years, have seen a number of countries where there has been a peaceful transition in terms of democratic elections. That is not something that we have seen consistently on the continent before. You mentioned specifically Nigeria and some of the difficulties in Nigeria. This is a country that has never, since independence, had a peaceful transition from one democratically elected government to another, which means that the elections which are coming up next year will be a test for democracy in Nigeria. Yes, there are enormous difficulties and great frustrations across a continent where we have seen the capacity of individual countries on the African continent to, for example, meet the Millennium Development goals go backwards. Why should we continue with our development efforts? Because there are a number of countries that are committed to a different agenda; they are committed to a reform agenda, to making sure that they put in place policies which will contribute to total elimination; they are committed to working to clean up public service and to deal with the corruption. It is important that we support those countries to do that and that is an absolutely key element of our development strategy.
(Baroness Amos) I think that the first and most important thing to say is that G8 leaders very much wanted to give a political response to the New Partnership for Africa's Development, so one of the core elements of the G8 response is that this is a political response and there has always been a recognition that the G8 is not an implementation mechanism, that we have the UN, we have independently the European Union, we have the international financial institutions and we have the WTO; we have a host of organisations, including the World Health Organisation, all of which have an implementation element to them. So the G8 Africa Action Plan is not going to create an implementation mechanism. What we see are the commitments which have been made by the G8 being implemented through the mechanisms which already exist. So, it is not setting up a whole new super structure internationally.
(Baroness Amos) It would be wrong to say that it pulls together everything that exists at the moment. If you think about it, the G8 consists of the eight rich industrialised nations. We have the OECD, we have the European Union and we have a whole range of work which is going on in development terms which is not just narrowed and focused on the G8, and what the G8 made absolutely clear at the beginning of this process was that the G8 response would be only part of the response to NEPAD. It is a comprehensive response. There are eight areas which are represented in the document where the G8 want to see additional action. The additionality here is the fact that we are talking about the richest nations in the world taking Africa and taking development seriously and putting these issues at the top of the agenda despite 11 September and despite the pressures in terms of what is happening internationally. For example, at the time of the G8 meeting recently, we had the centrality of the crisis in the Middle East, we had the concerns about what is happening in India and Pakistan, we had the wake of the terrorism agenda and yet Africa retained its place and its weight on the agenda and at least one-third of the time and the discussion at the G8 meeting was on Africa. I believe that we cannot underestimate the importance of having G8 leaders focus on Africa giving them weight to initiatives coming out of other places. For example, the G8 Education For All Task Force mentioned specifically the work that the World Bank is doing on wanting to fast-track a number of African countries to meet the Education Millennium Development Goals. So, the G8 have committed to increasing their own bilateral resources to ensure that those goals are met with respect to education. I do not think that we can underestimate the added value of that, but also the weight of the political commitment which has been given by G8 leaders and they have said that this, for them, is not the end of the process. They have requested a report at their meeting next year to see how far we have reached in terms of implementing the commitment which they have made.
(Baroness Amos) I think it is very important we remember that all of the different organisations will have a response to NEPAD. The G8 response is but one response and the G8 themselves have said that this is the beginning and not the end of a process. In the discussions that we, as G8 African personal representatives, had with colleagues in developing the Africa Action Plan, we actually had a meeting with representatives of what we call the 0.7 group, which is a group of donors who have reached 0.7 or have gone beyond 0.7 because they have an extremely important role to play, and they themselves are sceptical of the role that the G8 is playing given that G8 countries are not the ones with the highest GDP ratios. So, I think we are well aware of that but, at the same time, we cannot underestimate the impact that the fact that the G8 have talked about these issues and that these issues have been at the top of the G8 agenda has had globally.
(Baroness Amos) The G8 identified three different categories, as it were. There is the notion of working with what are called enhanced partnership countries and, if I can quote from the document, it talks about G8 countries focusing their efforts on countries that demonstrate political and financial commitment, good governance, the rule of law, investing in their equals and pursuing policies for economic growth and to alleviate poverty, and it goes on to talk about matching African countries's commitments with a G8 commitment on our part to promote peace and security in Africa, to boost expertise and capacity, to encourage trade and direct growth orientated investment. The document then goes on to talk about the kind of relationship that we would see with countries that do not meet those enhanced partnership criteria and it includes the fact that the G8 would work as a matter of strong principle with countries where the humanitarian leads remain universal and the G8 has committed to working with those countries independent of what the particular political regime in those countries might be. On the NEPAD side, part of the reason that they wanted this to be an inclusive and not an exclusive process is that they would like to demonstrate to countries that are not committed to the reform agenda the benefits of the reform agenda and that is very important for them. So, the G8 and NEPAD come at it from slightly different perspectives but, at the heart of the initiative is wanting to ensure that poor performers actually recognise that there are benefits to be had from governing justly and from putting their own people at the heart of their agenda.
(Baroness Amos) The evidence is that if a country has a poor policy environment, then the impact of the work that we are able to do in those countries is not as great as in countries with a better policy framework and that has been the basis of the way in which we in the United Kingdom have been developing our policy for some time.
(Baroness Amos) The G8 is driving its own process but it does not see itself as the G8 as driving the process in other fora although individual G8 countries will drive the process in other fora. So, for example, in the context of the European Union, we have four EU countries around the G8 table that will want to bring some of the issues that were agreed around the G8 table and, in particular, for discussion around trade and market access and will want to see that discussion brought into the centre of discussion at the European Union. It is no secret that there is a difference between the European Union countries and indeed between the European countries that sat around the G8 table with respect to trade and market access issues. This is an area where the UK Government have really sought to bring about change. We would like to see fundamental reform, for example, of the common agricultural policy and we want to see greater market access. We will need to persuade our EU colleagues that that is the case. So, there is a G8 agenda. The process will continue in terms of the African personal representatives who were appointed by each of the G8 leaders and we have now been asked to pursue the Action Plan in terms of ensuring implementation by our individual governments, but also to meet collectively to ensure that the G8 as a whole is meeting its commitments to report back to the G8 next year.
(Baroness Amos) I was going to come on to that. The Africa Action Plan is a comprehensive document. If I just, for example, go through four areas. The peer review element of this which sits squarely within NEPAD in terms of the African element of it is that we would expect the OECD to work with our African colleagues on the elements of the peer review that apply to the G8. On the elements in the Africa Action Plan which relate specifically to peace and security, there are large elements of that where the G8 and the individual countries within G8 will be working with the UN to deliver on those commitments and in fact there is a proposal with respect to the conflicts in DRC, Angola and Sudan to establish contact groups, which is a proposal that actually came from the UN Secretary General. So, the UN would have an absolutely core role. On trade, I mentioned the European Union but clearly the Doha/post-Doha negotiations through the WTO will be the mechanism for delivering on the commitments made in the Africa Action Plan with respect to trade. On education, the G8 Education Task Force produced a comprehensive report looking at education and endorsing the World Bank fast track proposals with respect to ensuring that a number of African countries, 11 in the first wave, are able to meet the Millennium Development goals with respect to education. That will be a bilateral commitment by individual countries actually upping the amount they give to education but the body that will oversee the achievement of that will be the World Bank. It is absolutely clear in the document and it is stated in the document, although I have to say that I cannot find where at the minute, that the implementation mechanisms will be through these different fora. In terms of your question about the political leadership, the fact that African personal representatives in individual countries plus our leaders in a year's time will be wanting to know exactly what has been achieved and where and how in terms of the commitments that were made in Kananaskis I think is a driving force behind the G8 element of that. I think it is also really important to distinguish between what G8 leaders have committed, and this is not a response to the totality of NEPAD. I think that is the other point I would like the Committee to understand. The G8 always said that they would think about the areas where they, as the G8, could add value. So, there are areas of NEPAD that are not reflected in this Action Plan in terms of the priority that our African colleagues have given it and that is because those are areas where the G8 do not necessarily feel that they can add value to those areas. It is very important to remember that the NEPAD process and NEPAD itself will have a response from different parts of the international system. I think that does lead into what I believe is at the base of your concern, which is that you can then have a number of different initiatives popping up all over the place which, in totality, do not actually deal with the major problem of development on the African continent. We recognise that we do have to watch that very, very carefully indeed, but one of the important things that we all see about this G8 Action Plan is that it has not fallen into the trap of being about small individual initiatives and is much more a comprehensive document focusing on the elements of the new partnership and not focusing on money; it was never intended to be a pledging conference, it was very much about combining the new partnership. We wanted to see some more in this document, not just on the trade aspect but also on some of the aid effectiveness and some of the aid coherence agenda, which we think can really drive through and make change in th way that donors work with African countries, but again it is the first step, it is not the end of the process - I would really like the Committee to understand that - is the beginning of a process.
(Baroness Amos) Let me try and go through those areas. You mentioned paragraph 9 and the commitment that half or more of the Monterrey money could be spent in Africa. At Monterrey, it was agreed between the European Union and the United States that there would be an additional $12 billion for development assistance. That commitment was made at the Financing and Development Conference, not at the G8. Where the G8 has added value is by G8 leaders saying, "We have made that commitment in terms of $12 billion. We are now making it clear that in terms of the enhanced partnerships and countries in Africa which commit to governing justly, abiding by the rules and so on, that half or more of that money could go to Africa." So, in March, we have the $12 billion -
(Baroness Amos) That is precisely why this commitment is so important. The Americans are currently working on the criteria for their Millennium Challenge Account. They are consulting with other donors, with the civil society, and this is something which has to go to Congress. G8 leaders have really said, "... half or more of our new development assistance could be directed to African nations that govern justly, invest in their own people and promote economic freedom." This is a commitment that the G8 leaders have made.
(Baroness Amos) This is a commitment that President Bush signed up to and there are discussions ongoing now that we all know with respect to the criteria for MCA. We have to go through Congress and get congressional approval but my understanding is that, as far as the Americans are concerned, half or more of their MCA could go to Africa.
(Baroness Amos) Can I say something about the process that led up to the development of the Africa Action Plan because that might help the Committee? We had a group of Africa personal representatives appointed by G8 leaders, reporting directly to their leaders on this issue. On the side of our African colleagues, they also had personal representatives of a 15 member implementation committee. The two groups have been meeting consistently. We had six meetings together since September last year, working through a whole range of issues including what were the priorities on the African side, where could we as G8 deliver added value, how could we work through a process that delivered a degree of trust between the two sides that enabled us to develop an action plan that our African colleagues would have some degree of confidence in? It would be no secret around this table that clearly there would be differences between G8 countries about priorities but, in addition to that, G8 countries are in very different places. We have some G8 countries that are currently going through economic crises, for example, which would make their ability to respond to the totality of the aspirations in NEPAD more constraining than for some other G8 countries. The process is very important in terms of G8 countries actually understanding the red lines for each and every one of us but also agreeing and understanding the priority areas that our NEPAD colleagues wanted us to address. Their key areas were looking at issues around trade and market access and debt relief. We had to have some pretty honest, straight talking about the extent to which the G8 felt able to deliver on those two areas. The extent to which parliamentarians in different G8 countries are engaged in this process is something that we have tried to foster and we were very pleased that Members of this Committee, for example, were able to go over to the United States. There were other visits between other G8 countries. The NGOs were also very active in terms of raising awareness of these issues in G8 countries and in African countries. This is a process that has not just now stopped. To come to the specific question about how can we ensure effective implementation, we will have a continuation of the meetings between G8 and NEPAD colleagues to enable us to report to the G8 next year. We will have elements of the Africa Action Plan being placed within the appropriate place internationally, be it the UN, the OECD, the World Bank or the WTO, and we will have, through our individual work as G8 countries but also collectively as G8 in different fora, to deliver on our commitments. I do not think that this will be at all an easy or straightforward process. Just within Whitehall, we have worked very well and I was very well supported, I feel, as the Africa personal representative. We had a cross Whitehall group involving the key government departments chaired by Graham Stegmann from DFID, which gave me excellent support and ensured that the kinds of issues that we wanted to see on this agenda that I was able to argue for, even though I was not able to get everything that we wanted into the document. Some form of cross Whitehall coordination to facilitate implementation will continue to exist within the UK government. We are talking about that process right now. We are engaged in talking to the French who will be the chairs of the G8 next year about how they see the implementation process and how they will oversee the implementation process on behalf of G8 colleagues. I would like to assure the Committee that these conversations are going on. They began before the Action Plan was agreed and they have continued post the agreement of the Action Plan. We are involved in discussions with our American colleagues about the Millennium Challenge Account and whether there are elements of our own experience and our own understanding that the Americans may wish to take on board in setting up that account. I know that they are consulting with others. I will continue to work with G8 colleagues both on a bilateral basis and collectively on the implementation agenda. It is not an easy agenda precisely because there are so many different international institutions and organisations that will have a responsibility in terms of that implementation, but I do feel that we already have the experience and expertise in the way that we currently work and in particular in the way that the Department for International Development works in terms of influencing these organisations that will stand us in very good stead. I think we have the right kinds of policies and strategies in place that will enable us to know very quickly if things are going wrong or if things are not happening at all.
(Baroness Amos) The Committee may know that we have had a working group on access to medicines which has been meeting over the last year. We have been working with other international players. What we have been looking at is to try to develop a voluntary differential pricing package. Once that is agreed, we would want to see that become part of the broader international agenda. I think it would be very important for me to say that, whilst we want to facilitate widespread, predictable, differential pricing on essential medicines, what we are absolutely concerned about is ensuring that the health systems exist within developing countries which will facilitate not only access to those medicines but their use. What we have in the majority of countries in Africa are health systems which are not functioning effectively. We have people who do not have access even to the basic primary care so even if people have access to medicines they need, for example, to have access to clean water. This is an agenda that is about poverty and not just about health or access to medicines. Our entire approach is to work with countries to put in place the right kinds of health systems which will facilitate access, not just to medicines, but also to support and care more broadly.
(Baroness Amos) Are you talking specifically about HIV/AIDS?
(Baroness Amos) There are a number of things. We cannot just say that because developing health systems is a long term agenda we cannot do it. That is absolutely part of our focus. We have contributed, as Committee Members know, to the research on trying to find a vaccine. We have been told that there is a possibility of a vaccine with 30 per cent coverage being achieved over the next five years. We have bilateral development programmes in a number of different countries in Africa. For example, we have a programme in Nigeria where we have committed some £53 million. We have new commitments in Ghana for £25 million; in Malawi, commitments for 30 million; in South Africa, 15 million, and we continue to have an HIV/AIDS programme in Zimbabwe for 13 million. This is separate and distinct to the money that we have given for the AIDS vaccine and is separate and distinct from the work that we are doing in those countries in terms of trying to get their health systems in place. As I mentioned, we also have the working party on access to medicines which is due to report at the end of July.
(Baroness Amos) What we have been working on at the moment is to ensure that countries which exit HIPC do so without unsustainable levels of debt. Part of the additional one billion that was agreed at Kananaskis is to help with topping up for countries which potentially could leave the HIPC process with unsustainable levels of debt. We are extremely worried about that. The World Bank is currently engaged in a review of HIPC. They will report in September on that and we are waiting to see the terms in which that review has been concluded. The United Kingdom has really led the way in arguing that we cannot afford to have countries leave HIPC with unsustainable levels of debt. The additional, bilateral debt relief which is given by countries is not included in the calculations which are made for HIPC purposes with respect to debt sustainability. In terms of the extent to which we will manage to get the HIPC process to be altered to look more specifically at the achievement of the millennium development goals, clearly this is an aspect that is already included in terms of countries having to develop their PSBRs, for example. I am sure that this is an area that we will continue to look at because what we are concerned about is the number of countries in Africa where we can see that they are falling behind in terms of the achievement of the MCGs.
(Baroness Amos) Can I first of all thank you very much for your kind comments about my role? I agree with you that it is inevitable that we will concentrate on what is not here rather than what is here. On 3.3, bullet two, the reading of it should be the other way round. There was a very strong feeling in our discussions around the G8 table that the appropriate place for the discussions about trade and market access was the negotiations following on from the agreement at Doha; that there are some good, very specific commitments which already exist following the Doha meeting; that the negotiations around the Doha agenda involve a great many countries and the G8 did not want to prejudge what might be the outcome of those negotiations. It is not going back from the commitments that have already been made. It is recognising that commitments have already been made at Doha which will form the basis for the discussions, which we hope will lead to the kinds of conclusions that we all want to see by January 2005, but there was a feeling that that was the most appropriate place for those negotiations to take place and that the G8 table was not the appropriate forum.
(Baroness Amos) I think it is too soon to take a stab at either of those areas. I will say two things. One is that the G8 were very concerned not just about trade between Africa and G8 countries or Africa and EU countries but also about intra-African trade and working with our African colleagues to try to facilitate the creation of free trade areas and customs unions between African countries which sometimes have even higher tariff barriers than between Africa and the European Union or other G8 countries. We were very keen to ensure that we put in the document our commitment to working towards enhanced market access for trade with African free trade areas or customs unions which we did manage to include in the document, which is included under 3.5. The other important area for us was to work to ensure that African countries understand and appreciate AGOA and EBA, for example, and the plethora of other market access arrangements which exist. The point under 3.4, bullet two, is also very important because we have agreed to establish these market and trade information offices which will support trade related technical assistance and capacity building, but will also be a mechanism for ensuring that countries knew what existed and they could make the maximum use of that. One of the concerns that we have about the everything but arms initiative is that the Americans have made an excellent job of marketing AGOA and African countries understand the benefits of AGO but very few of them understand the benefits of EBA and maximise the opportunities that exist within EBA, which is one of the things that we would want to look at.
(Baroness Amos) I totally agree with you about the importance of stemming capital flight. It is a discussion that I have constantly with colleagues from Africa. It has been a key part of the discussion around NEPAD and the G8 Africa Action Plan. There were two important meetings which were held, one in Senegal which President Wade presided over, inviting the private sector not just within Africa but also from other parts of the world, where African leaders were engaging the individuals from the private sector about how to create the best kind of climate for investment. The Commonwealth Business Council had a very similar meeting in Abuja looking at the same kinds of questions. One of the things that we have had to ensure our African colleagues understand is that G8 governments cannot make their private sectors invest in Africa. African countries have to create the right kind of environment. Some of that is about the nature of the bureaucracy; some is about the nature of the regulatory environment, but it is also about issues around peace, stability and security. It is about the image, that stereotype, that continues to exist about Africa and the fact that the difference between countries is not necessarily recognised. Many countries have not understood the impact that the situation in a country like Zimbabwe, for example, has not just on neighbouring countries but on perceptions of the region as a whole. We have had a number of conversations about this and about the ways in which we can support countries in Africa to put the right kind of environment in place. We are doing that. We are working with countries in making sure they have the right kind of judicial systems, the right kind of regulatory frameworks, working on reform of the public service, dealing with corruption. Even with all of that, there is still I think a perception gap. If the kinds of resources that we are talking about -- 64 billion -- are going to be delivered, one, it is going to take time and, two, it is also going to take a great deal more work. If those conditions are created, not only will foreign direct investment be attracted but it will be exactly the kind of conditions that will stop capital flight. A lot more money is leaving African countries than is staying in these countries. In a way, that needs to be the starting point.
(Baroness Amos) I hope that is not the case. As you know, through the Proceeds of Crime Bill, for example, we are putting in place the measures that we think will help with respect to issues of embezzlement, corruption and money laundering. In the Africa Action Plan under section two, which is strengthening institutions and governance, paragraph 2.6 talks specifically about putting in place the measures to combat corruption, bribery and embezzlement. The UK government has been in the past criticised for not ensuring that the terms of the OECD Convention on Bribery have been put in place in terms of our domestic legislation. We have now dealt with that and there is a commitment for G8 countries across the board, not only to make sure that the UN Convention on Corruption is put in place; we also want to work within the G8 for the early ratification of the UN Convention against transnational, organised crime. We want to strengthen and assist the implementation of the OECD Convention on Bribery but, as a government, we have also supported a number of voluntary initiatives, including the ethical trading initiative, the UN global contact and the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises. We have been in the forefront of support for those and we will continue to do that.
(Baroness Amos) In terms of the call for a special Africa summit next year, this is a proposal which was put by a number of NGOs. The proposal was first made in a meeting the Prime Minister had with NGOs on the day we left for Kananaskis and was put again to the G8 leaders at Kananaskis. It is not at all clear to me what NGOs at a special African G8 summit might achieve. We have the G8 Africa Action Plan. We have a number of G8 leaders who have made trips to African countries, including before the summit our own Prime Minister Pettier, President Chirac and it has been announced that President Bush will travel to Africa next year. I am not clear what the added value of a special Africa summit would be and I am also very mindful of the costs of holding summits, particularly in terms of security. We would not want to see the burden of that on any particular countries in Africa. In terms of implementation of the G8 plan, I hope that I have assured the Committee in terms of the procedures which we will be continuing within our own government, in terms of the cross Whitehall machinery, my own involvement and delivery of the elements of the plan through the different government departments that have a responsibility. Clearly, the Department for International Development will have a key role but so will the DTI, the Treasury and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. There will be other commitments no doubt arising out of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. DEFRA plays the key role in relation to that. The African personal representatives will continue and France will take the lead role in terms of overseeing the implementation on behalf of the G8. G8 countries individually and collectively, within other international fora like the UN, the OECD and the international financial institutions, will also play a role in implementation. I would describe the plan as comprehensive in terms of ambition. We would have liked to have seen more in some areas. The areas dealing with peace and security which particularly tackle the conflict agenda do take us much further than ever before and it is an area that the UK government takes a particular interest in. On corruption, this is an area that our NEPAD colleagues are looking at, particularly in the context of the Africa peer review mechanism which has been developed in terms of the ideas being put on paper that need to be implemented. Of course, we and other donors will continue to work through our bilateral aid programmes in African countries on rooting out corruption; but also globally in supporting for example the mechanisms coming out of the UN and through OECD. We all recognise that tackling corruption is absolutely critical to the development agenda.
(Baroness Amos) On the Abacha money, it was not that the UK government did not act or could not act. A request came to the UK government from Nigeria. We agreed that we would act on that request. The government was then subsequently judicially reviewed, which meant that our decision to act on the request was then put on hold. As I understand it, the Nigerian government subsequently came to an agreement with respect to the Abacha money. In relation to Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe, there is an EU asset freeze which has been imposed on 19 members of Zanu PF which enables us to freeze bank accounts. The Proceeds of Crime Bill is a much bigger and broader piece of legislation which is looking at criminal activity, money laundering and so on, and tightens up in certain key areas. The implications of these two specific examples that you have given I am not able to answer here, without going back to my colleagues who are responsible for the legislation but I am very happy to write to the committee.
(Baroness Amos) It certainly gives greater powers to do that with respect to criminal activity in the United Kingdom. Whether or not it gives greater powers applied in that general way to money which is not related to criminal activity in the United Kingdom, I am not able to answer in that blanket way but I am very happy to write to the Committee.
Chairman: Minister, thank you very much for having answered our questions over nearly two hours. We will watch with very considerable interest the process that has been initiated by NEPAD or the G8 process. I think there is a real danger that we are all feeling that Africa could well become the lost continent. Just two per cent of world trade comes from Africa. We heard today before you came in from the High Commissioner of Malawi that, whilst highlighting the achievements that Malawi has made in recent years, he was describing in human terms the impact on that single country of HIV/AIDS and it is pretty desperate. These are all issues that this Committee is going to be continuing to observe in our work over the coming months. Many of the Committee are going to Malawi later this year on the whole issue of food security, but thank you very much for very full answers. We wish you well with your work. I am glad that the Foreign Office and DFID are working closely on these issues and I hope that we can come back and discuss some of these topics with you again in the future.