UN staff ‘stand up’ against poverty as part of global campaign to remind leaders
In today’s event – one of more than 500 in over 50 countries – participants squatted and then stood up before jointly reading a pledge “as members of a generation that intends to defeat extreme poverty.”
“We wish to set a record today for the number of people standing up to demand action on poverty – but the record we really want to break is the world’s record of breaking promises and ignoring the poor,” the pledgers said in unison, led by UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch-Brown who presided over the brief rally on the lawn north of the UN Headquarters.
More than 10 million Asians took the same “Stand Up” pledge overnight, Mr. Malloch-Brown noted, adding that this is the first generation that “believes and knows” it can really end extreme poverty and exhorting all not to miss the “extraordinary opportunity to do just that.”
Organizers said these figures exceeded expectations and pushed them well into the Guinness record book, which had initially set a minimum threshold of 10,000. The UN received special dispensation from Guinness, which is certifying the numbers, to hold its event after the 24-hour window closed today at 1000 GMT.
Final results of the worldwide campaign are to be announced tomorrow by Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor at a press conference marking the International Day for the Eradication for Poverty.
Launched by the UN’s Millennium Campaign, Stand Up is a way for people to remind their governments of the promises they undertook at the 2000 UN World Summit to meet the Millennium Development Goals to eliminate extreme poverty – and to demand they reach those targets.
Several thousand supporters ‘stood up’ Sunday in New York’s Times Square where the iconic New Year’s Eve crystal ball was raised for the first ever non-New Year’s appearance. Other events took place in schools, places of worship, private homes, at the Toronto marathon and at soccer matches around the world and in several virtual web-based events, the handiwork of a broad coalition.
The MDG targets are to be achieved by 2015 but there is still much to do: more than 24,000 people die from hunger every day, more than a billion still lack clean water and more than 100 million children are denied the chance to attend school.