Press Releases

          21 September 2004

    International Community Now “Falling Short” in Achieving Anti-Poverty Goals, Says Secretary-General to Headquarters Meeting of World Leaders

    NEW YORK, 20 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks at the World Leaders’ Meeting on Action against Hunger and Poverty in New York, 20 September:

    Next year, when we meet to take stock of the progress we have made toward the Millennium Development Goals, we need to be able to say the world is on track, and that we are truly poised to make the following decade one of real achievement.

    Right now, however, we are falling short. Progress in eradicating extreme poverty has been uneven. In many countries, progress is too slow to meet the goals. And in some, standards of living have even deteriorated. The number of chronically hungry people worldwide is on the rise, adding to a global underclass of the hungry poor, who are untouched by larger economic forces improving the lives of the rest of mankind.

    With creativity and political will, we could do much better. That is precisely what is on display here today. I would like to thank the many heads of State and government for coming together for this event, and for their leadership in wrestling with this key issue of human welfare and well-being.

    Recent years have seen important gains in mobilizing financing for development. At long last, we have seen a turnaround in the volume of official development assistance. Aid is being better channelled.  And there is growing awareness of the need to disconnect aid from the business or geopolitical interests of donors.

    Yet two years after the Monterrey Conference, there are still serious problems. Policies are still too often in contradiction with each other.  We need greater coherence. It is by no means assured that current trade negotiations will conclude in a way that brings real gains for developing countries. There remains a democratic deficit in international economic and financial decision-making. And the rise in ODA, encouraging as it is, is nowhere near the doubling that most estimates suggest is needed.

    It is easy to say that something must be done to generate more resources to defeat poverty and hunger.  The challenge is what to do. Some ideas have been around for quite some time. Others are more recent, such as an International Finance Facility. As we study these proposals put forward, we must not let analysis become an excuse for paralysis. We need to move quickly.

    We also need to remember that this struggle is not just a matter of money; it must also be waged on many fronts, from education to women’s rights and much else.

    And we need to make the most of next year’s review. Between now and then, if we can come up with clear proposals that are workable and that command broad political support, we can make the progress we seek. This meeting is an important step along the way, and I thank everyone involved in making it possible.

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