Press Releases

    DSG/SM/197
    19 May 2003

     

    DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR FIRM, SUSTAINED
    POLITICAL COMMITMENT BY GOVERNMENTS TO
    MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

    NEW YORK, 16 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the address by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, as delivered to the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States-European Union (ACP-EU) Council of Ministers in Brussels today:

    I am delighted and honoured at the opportunity to speak to this distinguished audience. I would like to take a few minutes to talk about an historic challenge: that of meeting the objectives the world has set itself in the twenty-first century.

    In September 2000, all Member States of the United Nations adopted the Millennium Declaration -- a compelling vision for poverty eradication, peace and security, human rights, and environmental sustainability. The Declaration was the basis for the set of eight, specific, time-bound goals we know as the Millennium Development Goals.

    The Millennium Development Goals represent the most focused expression of commitments agreed by the international community, building on the consensus forged during the series of international conferences in the 1990s.

    Ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education -- all by the target date of 2015 -- the Millennium Development Goals represent a set of simple but powerful objectives that every man and woman in the street, from New York to Nauru, from Abidjan to Antigua, can easily support and understand.

    The work to meet the Goals calls for a new global partnership involving mutual responsibilities -- a partnership where political and economic reforms in developing countries are matched by support from developed countries in the form of market access, debt relief and aid.

    That spirit of partnership was clearly reconfirmed at the conferences in Monterrey -- which served to flesh out the eighth Millennium Development Goal -- and Johannesburg.

    We see a vivid illustration of the spirit behind that partnership right here in this room. The relationship between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, strong and evolving for several decades, can serve as a powerful tool to translate the Millennium Development Goals into reality.

    That work will require all our energy and perseverance.

    As we gather today, less than three years have passed since the Millennium Declaration was adopted. But in that short time, the world has changed a great deal.

    -- The world economy has faced its biggest setback in a decade, and its recovery has been weak.

    -- There is considerable uncertainty about how the international community intends to continue to handle debt crises, while many low-income countries have yet to benefit from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Initiative initiative.

    -- World trade is growing slowly, especially for developing countries. As the World Trade Organization’s Fifth Ministerial Meeting in Cancun approaches, there is little progress on some of the issues that matter most to developing countries, notably Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and agriculture.

    -- If the deadlock on TRIPS continues, it would not only prevent many developing countries from acquiring affordable generic drugs for those who need it most; it would erode their trust in a rules-based multilateral system.

    -- A failure in the negotiations on agriculture would endanger the prospects for a successful round, let alone a true Development Round. This would deal a severe blow to hopes of improving the lives of three-quarters of the world’s poor, who live in rural areas.

    -- There is one positive development -- the turnaround in official development assistance (ODA), which increased to $57 billion in 2002, from a level of $52.3 billion in 2001. There has also been some progress in improving the quality of aid through untying, harmonization and better coordination.

    -- But even if the Monterrey commitments were to be fulfilled -- which would mean an additional $16 billion by 2006 -- ODA as a percentage of gross national income would rise to only 0.26 per cent. That would still fall below the ratios of 0.3 and higher that prevailed before 1992 -- and far short of the estimated 50 billion additional dollars needed annually to meet the Millennium Development Goals or indeed the 0.7 per cent United Nations target.

    Obviously, the developments I have just outlined render our work to reach the Millennium Development Goals all the more challenging.

    That means we must redouble our efforts -- at the country level, both in developing countries and in developed countries and at the international level.

    Member States of the United Nations have wisely decided that the way forward now lies not in further conferences, but in implementation.

    Governments must make a firm and sustained political commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and the other targets that they endorsed at international conferences. They must be ready to provide the resources necessary and closely monitor progress so as to adjust their strategies on the basis of results achieved.

    Let us be clear: the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved only if efforts in developing countries are supported by those with the means to provide ODA, debt relief, market access and stimulation of foreign direct investment that are needed -- as expressed in the eighth Millennium Development Goal and in the Monterrey Consensus.

    That is why the ACP-EU partnership is so important.

    Only by working together can we make real headway in eradicating poverty, promoting health and education, ensuring access to clean water, and protecting the environment. Only by the combined efforts of all the partners can we make progress in our fight against HIV/AIDS, which is destroying so many lives and undermining development in too many countries.

    In the United Nations family, we are mounting a major effort in support of the Millennium Development Goals. There are four main prongs to our strategy:

    -- First, we are developing the tools to monitor progress at the global, regional and country levels. Annual reports are being prepared to examine progress on a country-by-country basis. More than 30 such reports are already issued, and dozens more are in preparation.

    -- Second, we have launched a comprehensive new research initiative, called the Millennium Project. This project, led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Millennium Development Goals, involves dozens of leading experts from developed and developing countries. Their work should help us identify the best strategies and practices for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

    -- Third, the Secretary-General has invited the former minister for development cooperation of the Netherlands, Eveline Herfkens, to lead a Millennium Campaign. The Campaign will seek to build and sustain a real popular and political movement to support the Millennium Development Goals where it matters most -- on the ground, among the citizens and leaders of developed and developing countries alike.

    -- Fourth, but not least, all parts of the United Nations are making a concerted effort to provide concrete, coordinated assistance to our partner countries. Our priorities and programmes have been reviewed and aligned fully behind the Goals. This is happening not only within United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes, but

    within other entities such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, so that the Millennium Development Goals are placed at centre-stage in nationally owned and designed poverty-reduction strategies.

    I would add, in the Secretariat, we have conducted a thorough review of the United Nations programme of work for the 2004/5 budget, to ensure that it fully reflects the priorities of the Millennium Declaration.

    Our work is already showing results on the ground. In every region, and at every level, the Millennium Development Goals are proving to be a powerful catalyst for change. Let me give you a few examples:

    -- In Tanzania, the United Nations Country Team has helped the Government to introduce a Millennium Development Goal-based poverty monitoring system and supported a National Human Development Report that highlights the impact of growing urban-rural disparities on poverty reduction targets. The Tanzanian Government is using this information to sharpen its Poverty Reduction Strategy, placing more emphasis on rural development. And in this year's national budget, it doubled funding for agriculture to address issues of pro-poor growth and food security. Similarly, evidence on trends in education and health has led the Tanzanian Government to ensure that the primary education and basic health budget requirements are fully funded. The Tanzanian case shows that Millennium Development Goal monitoring, when firmly integrated into the Government's poverty reduction policy frameworks, can help identify the most appropriate policies and strategies -- a prerequisite for greater effectiveness in poverty reduction and the quest to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

    -- In the Pacific Islands, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) worked in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum and the Asian Development Bank to organize a Millennium Development Goals workshop earlier this year. The workshop brought together representatives from government and civil society from 15 Pacific Islands, as well as donor countries. Jointly, they prepared a 12-month Millennium Development Goal Action Plan, which will be mainstreamed in the development process of the respective Pacific Island countries. As a result of the workshop, five Millennium Development Goal reports covering all Pacific Island countries will be prepared in the coming year. The UNDP is also providing technical assistance to the University of the South Pacific for the production of the Pacific Human Development Report, which will focus on Millennium Development Goals in the sub-region.

    -- In several Caribbean countries, national Millennium Development Goal reports are under preparation, with government involvement indicating a clear sense of ownership. There too, the UNDP is supporting a regional workshop on Millennium Development Goals, to focus on policy advocacy and national campaigning, capacity-building on indicators and technical monitoring, as well as an exchange of lessons learnt and best practices.

    Achieving the Millennium Development Goals would transform the life of millions of people. If we can build truly effective support at the country level, and sustained political commitment at the global level, we have a good chance of achieving them. It will be a serious test for the international community, but one which I am convinced we can meet if we can make it our priority.

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