9 December 2005

Award to NGO 'Global Call to Action against Poverty' Is Welcome Recognition of Important Role of Civil Society, Says Deputy Secretary-General

NEW YORK, 8 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks delivered by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette on the Presentation of the Inter Press Service International Achievement Award to Global Call to Action Against Poverty, in New York on 7 December:

I am delighted to be here for the presentation of this award to the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, which is chaired by my friend, Kumi Naidoo.

This award is not only well deserved. It is welcome recognition of the important role of civil society in the fight against poverty, disease and illiteracy -- in other words, in making sure that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are achieved.

We know the MDGs cannot be achieved by Governments or the United Nations alone. They must be owned by civil society and local authorities, the private sector and parliamentarians -- by all those who can make a difference on the ground.

Therein lies the achievement of Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP).

In less than a year, GCAP has helped create a movement that spans more than 70 countries. It has brought together organizations across the entire spectrum of civil society -- from trade unions, grass-roots organizations and religious communities to international non-governmental organizations, research and advocacy bodies and policy networks. It has communicated the issues in a way that every woman, man and child, from New York to New Delhi, can understand and support. It has forged a collective voice to push for increased development assistance, improved aid effectiveness and debt cancellation.

In other words, it has helped to take the MDGs to the people, and to hold Governments accountable for their commitments.

That is especially important in this crucial year for the MDGs. In September, the World Summit reaffirmed the unambiguous commitment of all Governments, in developed and developing countries alike, to achieve the MDGs by 2015. It also reaffirmed the global partnership for development, which is essential to reach the Goals.

This breakthrough was achieved partly thanks to the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, which put enormous pressure on world leaders to take bold actions to ensure that the MDGs are reached in 2015.

But while we have seen significant progress on official development assistance (ODA) and debt, one vital component is missing: a breakthrough on international trade. We have yet to make real progress in the struggle to make global trade rules truly beneficial to poor people and developing countries.

This issue will come to a head in less than a week from now, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong. That meeting must deliver a road map to conclude the development-oriented trade round by the end of 2006.

Governments in the developed world need to hear directly from their citizens that if the MDGs are to be reached, they must accept the price of dismantling of agricultural barriers and trade-distorting subsidies. That is where movements like GCAP are crucial.

There are several other areas where civil society campaigns associated with GCAP have a key role to play. As we advance towards the Goals, it will be crucial to ensure that additional resources will be generated and actually reach poor people.

Equally, after a year of good media coverage of the MDGs and development because of the G-8 and World Summits, it will be important to keep the media spotlight on these issues in 2006 and beyond.

And throughout, it is vital for you to remain rooted in the constituencies you represent, to ensure that the voices of those living in poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America are heard.

Finally, GCAP represents an unusual and valuable partnership between the United Nations Millennium Campaign and civil society. As the United Nations seeks to deepen and broaden its interaction with non-State actors, we look forward to strengthening our partnership with you in the coming years -- respecting each other's independence and identity, while ensuring that our comparative strengths are brought together in our common cause of achieving the MDGs.

In that spirit, I thank each and every one of you for your commitment. I wish you every success in the pursuit of our shared mission.

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