UN Summit Closes with Aim of Halving World Poverty by 2015

Published July 2nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The week-long United Nations social summit closed Saturday with the adoption of a raft of recommendations aimed at halving global poverty by 2015 but a lack of concrete measures. 

The six-day summit was repeatedly criticized by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for a lack of firm initiatives. 

Heads of state and government, and ministers from 160 countries confirmed their commitment to the as-yet unrealized objective for industrialized countries to dedicate 0.7 percent of their gross national product to development program. 

The final declaration from the conference also concluded that little progress on relieving the debts of the world's poorest nations had been made since the previous social summit in Copenhagen in 1995, and in some cases the situation had worsened. 

Delegates voted to back the commitment made at the G8 summit in Cologne last year to work to reduce the debts of the 41 poorest countries, which amount to 224 billion dollars, by up to 70 billion dollars. 

However, the final summit declaration was largely a political statement that fell short of any firm commitments. 

It said globalization and rapid advances in technology offered great opportunities for social and economic development, but developing nations were still meeting enormous obstacles to integrating and participating fully in the world economy. 

Non-governmental organizations also condemned the absence in the final declaration of a direct mention of the so-called Tobin tax, a proposal to tax short-term speculative financial transactions. 

It was opposed by the United States, Japan, Australia and Switzerland. 

In a closing address, summit chairman Theo-Ben Gurirab of Namibia appealed to wealthy nations to help their under-developed partners. 

"Those fortunate countries that benefited from early industrialization and are now in an ideal position to profit immensely from globalization, should acknowledge and assume the responsibilities towards the least fortunate that accompany their power and great fortune." 

The UN acknowledges that three billion of the world's population still live on less than two dollars a day and that 150 million people are unemployed -- GENEVA (AFP)  

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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