The president’s $10 billion aid package would increase grants by 50 percent over the next three years, he told a United Nations conference in Monterrey, Mexico.
“By insisting on reform, we do the work of compassion,” the president said to the representatives from 171 countries.
Mr. Bush said that the additional funds would be granted to poorer nations that rooted out corruption and terrorism, respected human rights, and improved education and health care for all citizens.
“We must tie greater aid to political and legal and economic reforms,” President Bush said, emphasizing that nations will merely “subsidize the failures of the past” if they receive funds without implementing domestic reforms.
“I am here to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to bring hope and opportunity to the world’s poorest people — and to call for a new compact for development defined by greater accountability for rich and poor nations alike,” he added.
The president described freedom, education, and the rule of law as “the conditions of development.”
“When nations respect their people, open markets, invest in better health and education, every dollar of aid, every dollar of trade revenue and domestic capital is used more effectively,” he said.
President Bush also urged that aid should come in the form of grants instead of loans that countries are unable to pay back.
French President Jacques Chirac said poorer nations have begun to liberalize their social and economic regulations.
“The developing countries have committed themselves to promoting economic growth through good governance and greater recourse to private initiative,” Chirac said at the same United Nations International Conference on Financing and Development.
Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who left shortly before President Bush’s arrival, however, rebuked rich nations for requiring poorer countries to meet certain criteria to qualify for developmental aid.
“You can’t blame this tragedy on the poor countries,” Castro said. “It wasn’t they who conquered and looted entire continents for centuries, nor did they establish colonialism, nor did they reintroduce slavery, nor did they create modern imperialism. They were its victims.”
Some leaders pointed at poverty as closely related to international terrorism and the Sept. 11 attacks.
Han Seung-soo of South Korea, the head of the UN General Assembly, described the world’s poorest nations as “the breeding grounds for violence and despair.
“In the wake of Sept. 11, we will forcefully demand that development, peace, and security are inseparable,” Seung-soo said.
Before its close later today, leaders at the summit plan to approve a communique encouraging wealthy nations to increase development assistance and poorer nations to direct those funds for economic and social reforms. The UN estimated it would take $100 billion to halve world poverty by 2015.
President Bush will continue his four-day Latin America trip with a stop in Lima, Peru and San Salvador, El Salvador and to promote his foreign aid program.