International Peace Prize from Slovakia 2015, granted by the Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Remarks by Angel Gurría,
Bratislava, Slovak Republic
19 February 2016
(As prepared for delivery)
Dear President Schuster, Deputy Prime Minister Kažimír, Your Excellencies, Dr. Kasalovsky, Members of the Informal Economic Forum Economic Club Association, Members of the International Peace Committee, Members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a great honour to be distinguished with the “Peace Prize from Slovakia 2015”. I want to thank Dr. Peter Kasalovsky and Mr Peter Mihok for having initiated these awards and the Members of the International Peace Committee for having selected me for this high honour.
In his invitation letter, Dr Kasalovsky praised among other things my contribution to strengthen the cooperation between OECD and non-member countries to promote economic development, contributing to build an association between nations from very different cultural, political and historical backgrounds, and helping in turn to cement international cooperation and peace. Well, in fact, this is what the OECD has been about since its very origins.
The OECD was born out of a remarkable idea. That idea – dazzling in its simplicity, epoch-making in its reach – was the concept of co-operation itself. The idea that economic co-operation could become more powerful than political differences; that economic co-operation could plant the seeds of long-term geopolitical stability and shared prosperity; that economic co-operation was the key to sustained development. That was the vision.
It was the same remarkable idea that Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill used as the cornerstone of the Atlantic Charter. Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle built a new post-war relationship between their peoples on it. Schuman, Monnet and De Gasperi applied it to the foundations and essence of the European Community. The authors of the Bretton Woods accords gave it a monetary and financial expression. It also sparked the creation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, now the WTO.
Nowhere, however, did the notion of international co-operation receive clearer or more urgent expression than in the plan for European reconstruction announced by George Marshall at Harvard University in 1947. Europeans would rebuild their countries and promote development through economic integration. The idea worked wonders. Within a decade, Europe had reached and surpassed its pre-war levels of production and prosperity. The Marshall Plan aid eventually came to an end, but the idea remained as vibrant as ever. That was the energy that gave birth to the OECD.
It is this energy, this idea, what has been propelling the work of our Organisation over the past six decades. This concept, this powerful purpose, this capacity to bring countries together through cooperation on economic and social challenges, has been at the very heart of my project, my vision, for a more relevant, more useful, and more inclusive OECD.
Since the beginning of my campaign to become Secretary-General and throughout the first 10 years of my mandate, I have focused my efforts to strengthen the global relevance of this Organisation; to make it more inclusive, more sensitive to the challenges of the developing world; more empathetic to other cultures, other ways of doing things. My aim was to transform the OECD into the world’s most important “policy lab” to produce a better, more harmonic, more humane, globalisation; making it more useful to its member countries, but also more beneficial for the people, and for the world.
And we made huge progress. Working intensely and in close coordination with our Council of Permanent Representatives we managed to broaden our membership. Since I came to the OECD, I engaged in efforts to incorporate other middle income economies. In May 2010 Chile joined the OECD; then Slovenia in July; followed by Israel in September; and then Estonia in December. Now we are working with Colombia and Latvia in their accession programmes and we have adopted Accession Roadmaps for Costa Rica and Lithuania.
At the same time we have developed an ever growing association with Key Partner countries through an Enhanced Engagement Strategy that I launched in 2007. Our collaboration with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and South Africa has blossomed. We are building solid bridges, we are learning from each other, we are building international trust!
And I could talk for hours about the opening of the OECD to developing countries, through our Regional Programmes with South East Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean; our increasing work with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA); and our growing partnership with Sub-Saharan Africa.
We also co-chair the Investment Compact for South East Europe, and work with a number of Eurasian countries. Last year the OECD launched a Country Programme with Kazakhstan and signed an Action Plan with Ukraine in April 2015, prioritising work on anti-corruption, governance, and business climate, which has been strongly supported by the Slovak Republic.
One of our most important contributions to a more stable and peaceful future is our effort to help countries combat poverty and inequality. This work has multiplied and grown qualitatively and quantitatively in the past years. Mexican background and the work experience in my country and the LAC region have made me sensitive to the complexity and urgency of these challenges. Now practically every Directorate and initiative at the OECD has a clear dimension of social empowerment and inclusion.
With the support of countries like the Slovak Republic, we have strengthened the development muscle of our Organisation, its hunger for social fairness, its drive for inclusion. From our work to improve development policy and make development aid more effective, to our Policy Coherence for Development strategy and our current work supporting the design and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), offering the OECD’s multidisciplinary capacity to track implementation and help countries advance in the right direction, what I like to call “a GPS for the SDGs”.
From our work in measuring inequalities and their impact on growth, to our New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) strategy, our Inclusive Growth Initiative, our well-being framework and now our work on inclusive productivity. From our work on the inequalities of education and the development of National Skills Strategies for greater inclusiveness to our growing work on international migration and the integration of migrants. We have made sure that the OECD’s agenda puts people first.
In the past ten years, we have also strengthened our work on tax transparency and anti-corruption with an unprecedented global outreach. Our work on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) and our work on Automatic Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes are helping to build a level playing field for all companies and tax jurisdictions. Our Anti-Bribery Convention, our work on public procurement, corporate governance and business integrity, and financing democracy, to mention a few examples, are making strides in the world’s fight against corruption and the recovery of trust.
And we have been helping to build a new global governance architecture. The increasing presence and relevance of the OECD in the global governance schemes, like the G7 and the G20, has been another of my top priorities since I came to the OECD. Today we support the work of these groups in a wide range of global challenges, like international taxation, climate change, youth unemployment, gender inclusion, food security, corporate governance, you name it. And we are also supporting other regional groups like the Deauville Partnership, APEC, and the Pacific Alliance; and collaborating intensely with other IOs.
These are just a few brushstrokes of a much bigger story. A story that I have tried to lead over the past ten years with conviction and hope, and the help of a great team, to help governments design, develop and deliver better policies for better lives; to help countries build more resilient, more inclusive and more sustainable economies; to help build a more harmonic and human globalisation.
And I am happy to report that we have made great strides in these directions and that we will continue to work intensely to achieve more, under the guidance of my 21X21 Strategy for my new mandate in the next five years, with the support of our Council of Permanent Representatives, the dynamism of our Committees and bodies, and the expertise and hard work of our Secretariat. The world is still facing very complex challenges, and the OECD is ready to help!
“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” These words by John F. Kennedy, who had an invigorating influence on our Organisation in its formative stage, reflect what the OECD has been doing over the past ten years, what I have been trying to do with this Organisation to build more inclusive multilateralism, more effective global governance, and a more interdependent global economy where the prosperity of one depends on the prosperity of all.
Thank you for this recognition! It is a powerful incentive to do even more! Thanks to Slovakia! And thanks to the Slovak people!