Published on Monday, May 22, 2000 in the Washington Post
UN's Kofi Annan Chides US For 'Shameful' Level Of Aid To Poor
SOUTH BEND, IN - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan called the United States "shameful" today for skimping on foreign aid to the world's poorest nations, where many people live on $1 a day.

In a commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, Annan said too many developing countries have no basic funds for education and health because they need to service their foreign debt and lack trade outlets.

At the same time, foreign assistance has declined, although many parts of the world are getting richer "at almost vertiginous speed," he said, according to his prepared text.

"It is particularly shameful that the United States, the most prosperous and successful country in the history of the world, should be one of the least generous in terms of the share of its gross national product it devotes to helping the world's poor," Annan said. "I am sure many of you share my feeling that this is unworthy of the traditions of this great country."

The United States is the second highest contributor in foreign aid after Japan in absolute terms, spending close to $9 billion a year. But this amounts to only about 0.10 percent of its GNP, which puts Washington in last place compared to all Western European nations, Canada and Japan, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Nearly half the world's population lives on less than $2 a day, and about 1.2 billion people, including 500 million in Asia and 300 million in Africa, make do on $1 a day. Annan said, "This extreme poverty is an affront to our common humanity."

Annan said many solutions have to be supplied by the leaders of developing nations. But debt relief is needed for the poorest of the poor and developing nations must be allowed to compete fairly in U.S. markets, he said.

Copyright 2000 Washington Post