UN Summit to End with Modernizing Pledge
The largest gathering of world leaders in history is due to end Friday with a commitment to modernize the 55-year-old United Nations to fight new scourges of global warming and AIDS, as well as the traditional ills of poverty and war.
The Millennium Declaration, which describes the UN as "the indispensable common house of the entire human family," is the closing act of a three-day summit attended by all but four of the organization’s 189 states. Of those, 147 were represented by their head of state or government.
The document says leaders will "spare no efforts" to free mankind from the scourge of war, extreme poverty, and the threat of environmental disaster, and to promote democracy and the rule of law.
It sets out specific targets for lifting billions of people out of abject poverty, and resolves by the year 2015:
- to halve the proportion of the world's population without access to safe drinking water, currently 20 percent, and of those living on less than one dollar a day, 22 percent;
- to ensure that all children complete primary education;
- to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters and infant mortality by two-thirds;
- to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases;
- to provide special assistance to AIDS orphans.
It resolves, by 2020, "to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers."
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told a news conference on the eve of the summit that, with modern technology, these goals were realizable.
The declaration also promises action on threats to the environment, and says "we will spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law."
These were two areas in which, according to Annan, people were most critical of their governments.
It pledges to "combat all forms of violence against women and to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women."
This was one of 25 core international legal instruments which dozens of heads of state and government signed or ratified during the summit.
Also during the summit, the UN Security Council met at the level of heads of state and government on Thursday and endorsed a report calling for far-reaching reforms to strengthen UN peacekeeping -- UNITED NATIONS (AFP)
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