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Annan calls on rich and poor nations to 'close the deal' to end poverty

Annan calls on rich and poor nations to 'close the deal' to end poverty

Kofi Annan
After many years of hard work and compromise, the world is now on the threshold of a breakthrough in the pursuit of development and human dignity, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today, calling on rich nations to provide the funding and poor nations to affect the necessary reforms to clinch the global deal to "make poverty history."

"There is real hope today because, first and foremost, many developing countries have succeeded in lifting millions of people out of impoverishment and despair. And there is real momentum because the international community has banded together in a sustained, unprecedented effort," Mr. Annan told the General Assembly's High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development.

The Assembly has gathered finance ministers in New York to debate the status of worldwide efforts to implement the Monterrey Consensus, the landmark agreement adopted by world leaders at an international development summit in Mexico in 2002. The two-day meeting will be built around a series of formal and informal meetings and six interactive round-table discussions on issues that include international trade as an engine for development, and mobilizing domestic financial resources for development.

In Monterrey, developed nations agreed to a new bargain with the world's developing nations: donors would increase aid spending and the world's poor nations would carry out economic and political reforms to ensure that development assistance money gets spent effectively, chiefly towards meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of targets a set of ambitious targets, ranging from halving extreme poverty, to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and to providing universal primary education, all by 2015.

"The Millennium Development Goals have become a rallying point of unparalleled scope – the globally accepted benchmarks by which our policies should be fashioned, and by which our progress should be judged, Mr. Annan said today, adding that the Monterrey Consensus has "brought rich and poor countries together in partnership."

"The question now, just days before the G8 summit, and less than 12 weeks before the 2005 World Summit here at the United Nations, is whether we can close the deal," said the Secretary-General, making reference to the 6 to 8 July meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in Gleneagles, Scotland, and the Assembly's upcoming September summit to review the MDGs and make decisions on UN renewal.

Mr. Annan called the decision taken earlier this month by the G8 finance ministers to write off the staggering debt of some developing countries "very encouraging," and noted the European Union has agreed to a clear timetable for reaching the 0.7 percent target for official development assistance (ODA) by 2015. "This will offer a chance to finally overcome the resource shortfalls that have kept so many millions of people mired in squalor," he said.

"Such steps make up for lost ground. They need to be accompanied by similarly dramatic action on the unfinished parts of the agenda. Rich and poor alike must do their part. Responsibility flows both ways," he said.

"So let us work together for a successful World Summit. Let us grasp this opportunity to advance the cause of development, as well as the security and human rights agendas that are so closely bound up with it. Let us show that needless, senseless human misery shall have no place in our world," Mr. Annan said.

General Assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon said that today's dialogue was particularly significant because it would allow for passing one more milestone on the road towards the September summit. The Monterrey conference reflected the international community's growing awareness about the complex development issues and the lack of financial resources in poor countries.

Looking ahead to the upcoming 2005 World Summit, Mr. Ping said it was essential to ensure that the monetary system was more consistent and cohesive to enable developing countries to reform and to mobilize national resources. He reiterated the appeal of heads of State at Monterrey calling for an international follow-up conference to report on the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus. Arrangements for such a conference must be decided on in 2005 at the latest.