Global anti-poverty targets insufficient to meet needs, Ecuador's president says

26 September 2007

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of global anti-poverty targets adopted by the United Nations in 2000, serve only as a minimum standard and even if achieved would not approach decent living conditions, the President of Ecuador said today.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of global anti-poverty targets adopted by the United Nations in 2000, serve only as a minimum standard and even if achieved would not approach decent living conditions, the President of Ecuador said today.

“To focus exclusively on minimum agendas as suggested by the MDGs may imply a high risk that would please certain consciences but limit the achievement of profound social changes,” Rafael Correa told the Assembly's annual high-level debate.

He called for looking beyond subsistence to “the right of people to enjoy a human life worthy of being lived.”

Referring to a frequently cited statistic about the poor living on $1 a day, he said: “Having a goal of living on one dollar, or one dollar plus one cent, in order to overcome extreme poverty or avoid a premature death, as implied by the MDGs, does not mean leading a decent life.”

Countries should not be content with reaching minimum objectives “although no one can deny that preventing the premature deaths of boys and girls is without a doubt a fundamental goal.”

He proposed instead common objectives based on “social maximums rather than life minimums.” These should include guarantees to artistic creation and leisure, for example, he said.

The President also spoke out on the issue of migration. “There is a paradox: on the one hand, the free flow of goods and capital searching for maximum profits crashes against the punishment people receive on their freedom to travel globally in search of a better life,” he said. “This cannot be tolerated.”

Ecuador, he said, “does not believe in 'illegal' human beings and is actively working to promote changes to shameful international migration laws, bearing in mind obviously that our great responsibility is to build a country that offers guarantees for a worthy life as a means of preventing migration caused by poverty and exclusion.”

Elias Antonio Saca, the President of El Salvador, emphasized the importance of a humane approach to the issue of migration, pointing out that immigrants make important contributions to the economies of host countries. He voiced appreciation for the work of the United Nations on the matter, which he said must be dealt with from a human rights perspective.

He said Central America has achieved a great deal of security but cautioned that threats persist, especially in relation to the activities of gangs. “These antisocial groups do not follow the patterns of traditional criminals,” he said, adding that the threat is extending to the level of organized crime reaching beyond the region.

The treatment of this issue requires action and cooperation from all States, especially in Latin America, he said.

 

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