Landmark Joint Report Outlines Goals for Fighting Poverty

Published June 27th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented a report in Geneva Monday to a UN conference on social development outlining seven "ambitious but achievable" goals for reducing global poverty. 

Entitled "A Better World for All", the report covers health issues, education, equality between the sexes, child and maternal mortality rates, reproductive medicine and the environment. 

The report is the first to have been co-authored by the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 

Speaking later to reporters, Annan stressed the need for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector, civil society and the Brettons Woods Institutions to work together. 

"By pooling our effort we will have really great impact on the problems we are dealing with," he told a brief news conference. 

The report reaffirms the main aim of the UN World Summit for Social Development, taking place here from Monday through Friday, to see the number of the world's inhabitants living in extreme poverty halved. 

The summit will follow up on commitments made at a UN social development conference in Copenhagen in 1995 which the organization itself acknowledges have not been fulfilled. Three billion of the world's population now live on less than two dollars a day and 150 million are unemployed. 

Speaking at the opening of the conference, Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup lamented the lack of progress. 

"Our commitments have not been fulfilled and certainly not with the agreed speed. That is a sad fact. We could have done better, much better," he said. 

UN Development Program Administrator, Mark Malloch Brown, said the report was a result of a specific request from the Group of Eight industrialized nations who will meet at the end of July in Japan. 

"The origins of this report lie in a request from the G8 to have a tool each year when they meet to benchmark progress towards the development goals," he told reporters. 

And he stressed that while the UN believed in an open, global society where "ideas, trade and everything can flow across borders", it also believed in a managed one. 

The summit is expected to produce a declaration once a number of outstanding issues have been discussed. 

One such issue, which divides UN members, is the idea of taxing cross-border capital transactions to help combat poverty as called for by US economist James Tobin in the early 1970s, and which many NGOs still back today. 

Thousands of anti-globalization activists took to the streets here Sunday ahead of the summit to protest in front of the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters - GENEVA (AFP) 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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