Member States today underlined the vital role that democracy plays in reducing poverty, just days before a major United Nations summit on how to advance the ambitious development targets world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.
“As world leaders are preparing to discuss progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and efforts to reduce poverty, democracy remains central to any development approach,” Joseph Deiss, President of the General Assembly, told a meeting at UN Headquarters.
The President has identified the pursuit of the MDGs – which include slashing poverty, fighting disease, halting environmental degradation and boosting health – along with UN reform and the promotion environmentally sustainable development as key areas of focus for the Assembly’s 65th session, which kicked off on Tuesday.
“In particular, we must bridge the gaps in the fight against hunger, child mortality and maternal health,” he told a news conference yesterday.
“This is possible,” he added. “Our work in the coming week must result in a sincere commitment and a genuine plan of action to ensure that we reach the ambitious goal that the international community set for itself in 2000.”
The three-day summit on the MDGs, convened by the 192-member Assembly, begins in New York next Monday and is expected to attract nearly 140 heads of State and government, as well as dozens of representatives from civil society groups, foundations and the private sector.
Mr. Deiss said in an interview with the UN News Centre that he hoped the summit will give additional impetus to efforts to advance the Goals.
“What the General Assembly can produce most is to create the momentum. We need to mobilize, to motivate, to bring the Member States to more action,” he said, adding that he expects Member States to come prepared to put forward concrete commitments on what they will do over the next five years.
This, he added, will hopefully send a clear message to the outside world that despite the economic crisis and despite other difficulties, countries are still committed to achieving the targets they set for themselves in 2000.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today’s meeting is an important opportunity to underline the pivotal role that democracy plays in reducing poverty and promoting human well-being, as it comes just days before the summit.
“The political consensus is clear; and experience bears it out: transparency, accountability, and responsive governance are essential if our work for development is to succeed,” he told the gathering.
“Robust oversight... a vibrant civil society... popular participation... the free exchange of information and ideas: all these hallmarks of democracy are also crucial for generating economic growth and securing social justice.”
Mr. Ban has said that he will use next week’s summit to launch a global strategy for women’s and children’s health.