Press Releases

UNIS/INF/340
22 October 2009

Guinness World Record Shattered by Citizens Across Globe Demanding That Their Leaders End Poverty

More than 173 million people gather at "Stand Up, Take Action, End Poverty Now!" events, setting new world record for largest mobilization in history.

VIENNA, 22 October (UN Information Service) - A Guinness World Record shattered this weekend when 173,045,325 citizens gathered at over 3,000 events in more than 120 countries, demanding that their governments eradicate extreme poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). "Stand Up, Take Action, End Poverty Now!", in its fourth year, has been certified by Guinness World Records as the largest mobilization of human beings in recorded history, an increase of about 57 million people over last year.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who led over 1,500 schoolchildren in Standing Up on Friday at the UN International School in New York, said, "We know that if we take a stand - if we act -- we can end poverty in our lifetimes. That's what the Stand Up campaign is about. That's why we will convene a Summit next year at the United Nations to keep the focus on the goal of meeting the Millennium Development Goals."

"The more than 173 million people who mobilized this weekend sent a clear message to world leaders that there is massive, universal, global demand for eradicating poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals," said Salil Shetty, Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign. "In particular, we have seen citizens determined to show their governments that they will hold them accountable for keeping their promises to end hunger, improve maternal health and abolish trade-distorting agricultural subsidies. They will not accept excuses for breaking promises to the world's poorest and most vulnerable people, who have already been hardest hit by the global food, economic and climate crises they had no role in causing."

In Asia more than 100 million people participated (101,106,845); in Africa more than 37 million people participated (37,848,412); in the Arab region more than 31 million people participated (31,394,459); in Europe more than 2 million people participated (2,102,121); in Latin America more than 200,000 people participated (229,371); in North America nearly 200,000 people participated (191,535); and in Oceania more than 170,000 people participated (172,582).

"Stand Up is proven to be a growing global mobilization, as well as an ongoing grassroots movement from remote areas and cities in so many countries, both rich and poor," said Sylvia Borren, Co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), who attended several "Stand Up" events across The Netherlands last weekend. "These are the voices of young people, women and men demanding the eradication of poverty, and new answers to the food, economic and climate crises. We will carry this overwhelming message forward in the weeks and months ahead to influence both the Copenhagen climate discussions and next year's MDG review."

Currently 1 billion people around the world are hungry and 500,000 women continue to die annually as the result of pregnancy and childbirth. The vast majority of these deaths are preventable.

The mobilization was coordinated globally by the United Nations Millennium Campaign, in partnership with a range of organizations including the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and the UN Department of Public Information and its global network of UN Information Centres.

Austria

The swinging sounds of Bob Marley's Stand Up song joined children's voices in livening up the Rotunda, the circular entry hall of the UN headquarters in Vienna, at lunchtime on 16 October. Over 100 pupils with their teachers from four Viennese schools - many of them dressed in red for the occasion - joined staff members to participate in this year's Stand Up Against Poverty event at the Vienna International Centre. UNIS Director Maher Nasser invited participants to tie ribbons into symbolic knots to remind world leaders of the promises made at the Millennium Summit in 2000. Spontaneously, the school children formed a large circle around the Rotunda and let a 'wave' of arms travel around it several times before squatting and then Standing Up in unison to show their support for the campaign.

The Austrian non-governmental organization and platform for development and humanitarian aid Global Responsibility, with the support of the United Nations Millennium Campaign, organized an event at the Vienna Museumsquartier on 17 October, featuring the Brazilian musician Celia Mara, SambAttac and the Austrian hip-hop artist Skero (Texta). Over 400 people visited the concert and called for action from world leaders and governments to meet their promises and show their support for ending extreme poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. For more information on this event, visit http://www.globaleverantwortung.at/start.asp?ID=230305

Hungary

On 16 October, members of Hungarian Model United Nations Student Association gathered at the Corvinus University of Budapest for a stand-up event.

Slovakia

The non-governmental platform Youth Council of Slovakia (RMS), organized Stand Up events at Slovak schools with the support of the United Nations Millennium Campaign. 4,700 students aged 15 - 19 in 29 high schools in Bratislava, Žilina, Sered, Ziar nad Hronom, Hnusta, Humenne, Stara Lubovna, Kosice, Topolcany and other cities participated. On 16 October, teachers distributed information cards on the MDGs and the Stand Up campaign, and gave their classes 15 minutes to discuss the information, stand up against poverty and inequality and take a picture. Students were given a postcard each so that they could spread the word on the Millennium Development Goals among other young people. For further information visit: http://www.mladez.sk/buxus/generate_page.php?page_id=31502

The student organization Center of Nations Slovakia in Banska Bystrica joined the campaign by informing a full ice-hockey stadium about the MDGs before an ice-hockey match started.

Slovakia participated with 8,210 people altogether.

Slovenia

A Stand Up event was organized on 16 October in Ljubljana by the United Nations Association of Slovenia and Slovene Philanthropy, in cooperation with Sloga - Slovenian Global Action and with the support of the United Nations Millennium Campaign, the Embassy of the United States, the Embassy of the Netherlands and the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna. The keynote speaker was the President of Slovenia Danilo Türk, who underlined the importance of women's education for balanced progress. It was followed by the first screening of a documentary by Slovene Philanthropy on the everyday life of women in Uganda. Bojko Bučar, President of the United Nations Association of Slovenia, launched a new publication on the MDGs, which was followed by a round-table of prominent guests focusing on MDG 3 - Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. The event was concluded with a live performance by the musician Adi Smolar, whose lyrics uphold human dignity, address society's mistakes and foster reasonable thinking. There were also Stand Up and Take Action events in 20 elementary and secondary schools across the country. The total number of people who stood up in Slovenia was 6,438. For further information visit: www.milenijski-cilji.si.

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About the Campaigns:

The UN Millennium Campaign was established by the UN Secretary General in 2002. The Campaign supports citizens' efforts to hold their governments to account for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals were adopted by 189 world leaders from rich and poor countries, as part of the Millennium Declaration which was signed in 2000. These leaders agreed to achieve the Goals by 2015. Our premise is simple: we are the first generation that can end poverty and we refuse to miss this opportunity. For more information, visit www.endpoverty2015.org.

The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) is a civil society alliance of social movements, international NGOs, trade unions, community groups, women's organizations, faith and youth groups, local associations and campaigners working together across more than 100 national coalitions/platforms. GCAP is calling for action from the world's leaders to meet their promises to end poverty and inequality. In particular, GCAP demands solutions that address the issues of public accountability, just governance and the fulfilment of human rights; trade justice; more and better aid; debt cancellation; climate justice; peace and security as well as gender equality and women's rights. For more information, visit www.whiteband.org.

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For further information, please contact:

Sonja Wintersberger
UNIS Vienna
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-3430
E-mail: sonja.wintersberger@unvienna.org

Website: www.unis.unvienna.org