Press Releases

    SG/SM/8411
    2 October 2002

     

    SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS WORLD IS "FALLING SHORT" IN EFFORTS TO MEET GOALS OF MILLENIUM DECLARATION

    First Progress Report on Implementation of UN Plan Shows Dramatic "Speed Up" Needed to Meet Targets Set for 2015

    NEW YORK, 1 October (UN Headquarters) -- These are the opening remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan today at a Headquarters press conference on the first progress report on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration:

    I know most of you are focused on Iraq at the moment, but the United Nations has to keep thinking about the rest of the world as well -– especially the well over a billion people who struggle to survive on a dollar a day or less, without clean water or sanitation, and go to bed hungry every night.

    You may remember that two years ago heads of State and government came here from all over the world, and adopted the Millennium Declaration –- an agenda of the things that most urgently need to be changed if the human race is to get through the twenty-first century in better shape than it did the twentieth.

    You will also remember that the agenda included a series of very precise and measurable targets, which all States agreed must be achieved by 2015. Those are the eight Millennium Development Goals. They include halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, and giving full primary education to all children, girls and boys alike.

    The General Assembly asked me to produce a road map, setting out in some detail what would need to be done to make all the pledges given in the Declaration come true. I did that last year.

    And now I have to produce a report each year, showing what progress has been made in implementing the Declaration; where we are falling short; and what more needs to be done.

    The first of those annual reports is what you now have in your hands. It will be discussed in the General Assembly on Friday.

    What does it say? Are we on track to achieve to fulfil the pledges in the Declaration or not?

    In a nutshell, it says that the world is falling short. If we carry on as we are, most of the pledges are not going to be fulfilled.

    On all our broad objectives –- human rights, democracy, good governance, the resolution of conflicts, and the special needs of Africa –- we are moving too slowly. Unless we can speed things up dramatically, we shall find when we get to 2015 that the words of the Declaration ring hollow.

    As for the Millennium Development Goals –- which are more precise, and therefore easier to measure –- the record so far is mixed, at best. There are marked differences between regions.

    Over the past decade, East Asia has already halved the proportion of people living on less than one dollar per day -– from 28 per cent to 14. South Asia, where nearly half the worlds poor still live, has seen a more modest drop: from 44 per cent to 37.

    But in Africa, where 10 years ago 48 per cent of people were living on one dollar a day or less, the figure today is 47 per cent. In 10 years, Africa has only managed to cut the proportion by one forty-eighth. There has to be a quite dramatic change if by 2015 –- only just over 12 years from now –- it is going to cut that proportion by 50 per cent.

    The first big test of our commitment to achieve the Goals will come in 2005 –- little more than two years from now –- by which time Member States have pledged to achieve parity of girls and boys in both primary and secondary schools. I regret to say it is unlikely to be met. Between 1990 and 2000 the gender gap narrowed by only 25 per cent. And without greater success in placing more girls in school, I fear it will prove even more difficult to reach the other goals.

    The Millennium Goals are global, but it is what happens in each separate developing country that will determine whether they are met or not. And there is no magic formula for reaching them that every country can apply. Each country must find the right mix of policies that suits its local conditions, and the people of each country must insist that those policies are applied.

    And that applies also to the developed countries, which must deliver their promises on trade and development assistance, so that developing countries have a real chance to prosper in the new global economy.

    In other words, it is not those of us here at the United Nations who can achieve these goals. All we can do is keep reminding governments of their pledges, and urging them to do whatever is needed to meet those pledges and make them come true.

    And that is what we’re doing. We have started a Millennium Campaign, to make the Goals better known throughout the world –- and to try and make sure that something is actually done.

    I shall deliver my annual global report each year, but we will also help every developing country to produce its own annual report –- so that in each country the people will know how they are doing. Our hope is that, in this age of democracy, once people know they will be able to insist on action.

    And that is why Eveline Herfkens is here. Many of you probably know her from her outstanding leadership over the past few years as Minister for Development Cooperation in the Netherlands. In that capacity, she has already done a great deal to bring the Millennium Development Goals to the top of the global agenda.

    Perhaps we should be grateful to the Dutch people for voting against her party in the recent elections, since as a result she is now free to take on a global role! I am delighted to announce that she has agreed to work with me, and with Mark Malloch Brown, in running this historic Millennium Campaign.

    Let me now ask Mark to tell you a little more about the country monitoring process, and then he and Eveline will take your questions.

    (Note: A summary of the press conference is posted on the United Nations Web site -- www.un.org.)

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