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Last Updated: Monday, 16 April 2007, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Benn speech: key quotes
Here are the key quotes from International Development Secretary Hilary Benn's speech in New York:


After 9/11, the global economic shock kept 10 million people trapped in extreme poverty. This is not a clash between the west and Islam, although these terrorists claim it is. Nor is it a global war; it is about identity and about values.

In the UK, we do not use the phrase "war on terror" because we can't win by military means alone, and because this isn't us against one organised enemy with a clear identity and a coherent set of objectives.

It is the vast majority of the people in the world - of all nationalities and faiths - against a small number of loose, shifting and disparate groups who have relatively little in common apart from their identification with others who share their distorted view of the world and their idea of being part of something bigger.

What these groups want is to force their individual and narrow values on others, without dialogue, without debate, through violence. And by letting them feel part of something bigger, we give them strength.


We are at a turning point for the world. We must face this new world of ours with confidence and recognise that our national interest is now inextricably tied to the global interest and the development interest.

All nations have tended to view the world and its challenges through a narrow telescope, based on national self-interest and narrow coalitions; using diplomacy and hard power - economic and military sticks - and assuming our values and views can prevail. This has to change because the challenges we face today cannot be solved by the pursuit of narrow self-interest.

In a world where the balance of power is changing, multilateralism must show it can work - that isn't just about us achieving what we want, but one based on give and take. Nowhere is this being tested more than by international terrorism.


A new consensus is forming. Many of the values which in the past have been wrongly claimed as distinctly Western are obviously common to all of us. Democracy, freedom, tolerance and education are not western values - they can be found across the globe.

A worldwide Gallup poll in 2005 sought the views of 50,000 in 65 countries. Eight out of 10 citizens said that despite its problems, democracy was the best system of government.

Development is fundamentally about these values and freedoms - when people have access to information and a voice that can make itself be heard and they can hold their governments to account.

If we are to create a more stable world, each of us needs to look outwards and beyond our own narrow, short-term interest to share with others wealth, power, the opportunity to realise our potential, and the chance to live free from fear. The things that make development possible.


Uncontrolled climate change, hardest felt by those least responsible for it, could do for us all and destroy development in the process.

What will we do when people start fighting - not over ideas or identities - but over water? And what will we do when people start seeking shelter in our countries from environmental catastrophe?

The threats to achieving a peaceful and prosperous world have changed... they are now global. If one country doesn't act to deal with avian flu, we are all threatened. An economic downturn in one country means a downturn elsewhere. And on climate change, even if the UK stopped all of its carbon emissions today, growth in China would replace those emissions within two year. So we either tackle the causes of climate change together or we will not tackle them at all.


We have to be honest about the capacity of the international system to act when the rules are broken, rights are denied and obligations are not upheld.

There are many things we have agreed the UN should do, and we would like it to do, that it does not do. In particular, the Responsibility to Protect is not yet working as it should. Why? Because its member nations don't have the will to act. And because the UN doesn't always have the means to act. All too often, narrow national interest is put before the global interest and millions suffer as a consequence.

We are going to have to do much more to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations to prevent conflict and develop civilian capacity to get to where it is needed.


The UN won't be able to do everything and it is why we are so firmly committed to upholding international law. Some say it's out of date, unfit for the security threat we face.

On the contrary, I believe that the values that brought us together in the aftermath of the Second World War are as relevant today as they have ever been.

It's why Guantanamo should close. It's why we must support the work of the International Criminal Court and we must make the Responsibility to Protect mean something to the innocent civilians who would otherwise fall victim to genocide.

It's why hard power alone will not win the so-called "war on terror".

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