Louise Frechette is the best United Nations deputy secretary-general ever — and the first.
Frechette, a Canadian national, addressed a rain-soaked audience in Luce Hall yesterday afternoon. She focused primarily on development, noting that globalization and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 have combined to put it “back on the agenda.”
“We see more clearly now that we live in one world, not two,” Frechette said.
Frechette cited research that showed that poor economic prospects influence the spread of the drug trade, extreme religious fanaticism, and terrorism. In nations lacking a variety of agricultural or industrial opportunities, Frechette said, statistics showed that aid, particularly aid with fewer stipulations, helps alleviate those problems. Frechette said that after international aid to India from the 1950s to the 1970s, the country is now self-sufficient.
Currently, the United Nations is focusing on the upcoming transition of East Timor to independence and revamping the government of Afghanistan. Frechette also looked to the future, particularly August’s World Summit in Johannesberg, where Frechette said she hopes the conference attendees will look to reconciling growth and development with environmental protection and susceptibility.
At present, however, Frechette said aid for developing countries is the issue most pertinent to the international community. She said that people in countries like the United States will be more willing to support aid if they are educated about the nations the money helps.
“There needs to be a greater engagement of civil society,” Frechette said.
Sulmaan Khan ’05 said he had heard similar development theories addressed before. But he said Frechette’s points on partnerships between the United Nations and private corporations were new.
Frechette said that though there was an “opportunity for companies to wrap themselves up in the blue flag,” the United Nations was willing to take the risk in order to include a new angle to the development process.
“Governments alone don’t deliver the whole of our needs,” Frechette said. “Governments are only one of the actors.”
Khan said he felt that Frechette did not adequately explain the relevant U.N. infrastructure.
“I don’t think she sufficiently tackled that,” Khan said.
Frechette advised young people who want to learn more about development to inform themselves.
“Pick a cause, pick a country,” Frechette said, “contact groups and get engaged.”
Public mobilization, she said, was the force behind increased international regulation of landmines.
Frechette hopes that after her terms is over, the United Nations will continue to respond efficiently and responsibly to issues.
“I would like to leave a UN that is very focused on the issues of today and tomorrow, not the past,” Frechette said. “I think we’re on the right track.”