Annan challenges countries to improve performance in global anti-poverty campaign

Annan challenges countries to improve performance in global anti-poverty campaign

Secretary-General Kofi Annan took his campaign to improve the international community’s performance in implementing a series of goals to fight poverty and other global ills to the United Nations General Assembly today, appealing to Member States to take “decisive action” and challenging them to ensure that agreed targets are achieved.

In presenting the first of his annual reports on the implementation of the UN Millennium Declaration, the Secretary-General said the international community’s record in the first two years has been mixed, at best. While some goals have benefited from the hard decisions and courageous reforms that are needed, other had not.

“We cannot afford to treat the Millennium Declaration as something to think about tomorrow, or whenever the pressure of business permits,” he said. “Let us not forget that our Heads of State and Government adopted it as an urgent agenda – a list of things we cannot neglect and a list of things we most urgently need to change if this new century is to be any better than the last.”

In 2000, world leaders meeting at the UN Millennium Summit agreed to a series of targets to be met over the next 15 years, including halving the number of poor and hungry people, achieving educational parity for boys and girls and fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The Secretary-General warned the Assembly today to resist the temptation to put the broader and long-term agenda of the Declaration on the “back burner” in favour of dealing with current grave threats to international peace and security.

“Nothing, indeed, could be more contrary to the spirit of the United Nations and its Charter, in which the goal of saving future generations from the scourge of war is so closely linked to that of promoting social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,” he said.

While the Millennium Development Goals were global in nature, the Secretary-General stressed that what will determine whether they are met is what happens in each country, as governments find the right mix of policies that suit local conditions and the people insist that those policies be applied.

“In other words, its is not here at the United Nations, or by the work of the United Nations officials, that these goals can be achieved,” he told those present. “They have to be achieved in each of the countries that you represent, by the efforts of its Government and its people.”

For his part, the President of the Assembly, Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic, said the Millennium Development Goals form the basis of the UN's economic and social policy and their implementation must remain a top priority.

"We have to keep in mind that credibility of the United Nations is based not only on its ability to articulate political goals but also, and primarily, on its ability to mobilize political will for their implementation," he stressed.