Annan hails new Nobel Peace Prize laureates for championing the poor
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today hailed the award of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to microfinance economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh as a victory for efforts to help to “break the vicious circle of poverty” and set low-income families on the path to prosperity.
“They have provided a powerful weapon to help the world reach the Millennium Development Goals, by helping people change their lives for the better – especially those who need it most,” Mr. Annan said in a statement issued by his spokesman, referring to the targets set by the UN Millennium summit of 2000 to dramatically slash poverty, illiteracy, maternal and infant mortality and a host of other global ills by 2015.
“The Secretary-General is delighted that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 has been awarded to Professor Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, pioneers of the microfinance movement and long-standing allies of the United Nations in the cause of development and the empowerment of women,” the statement added.
“He notes that thanks to Professor Yunus and the Grameen Bank, microfinance has proved its value as a way for low-income families to break the vicious circle of poverty, for productive enterprises to grow, and for communities to prosper.”
The specialized UN agency dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries also welcomed the award.
“Professor Yunus’ leadership has brought opportunities to millions of poor rural families worldwide,” International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) president Lennart Båge said.
“Professor Yunus challenged IFAD and other international financial and humanitarian institutions to question their approaches and to find better ways to serve poor people” said Mr. Båge.
Mr. Yunus and Mr. Båge are champions of the nine-year Microcredit Summit Campaign launched in 1997 to reach 100 million of the world’s poorest families, especially the women of those families, with credit for self employment and other financial and business services.
IFAD was one of the first UN agencies to support Professor Yunus initiatives on behalf of poor rural people. From 1981 to 1995, it provided capital to the Grameen bank through three projects. As the bank gained momentum and became an ever more successful and sustainable institution, donor financing was reduced.