17 October 2008
Deputy Secretary-General

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

millennium commitments no charity matter, says Deputy Secretary-General

at headquarters event for ‘stand up and take action against poverty’

Following is the text of Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at the United Nations Headquarters event for “Stand Up and Take Action against Poverty and for the MDGs” on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, in New York today, 17 October:

Dear friends, we join millions of people around the world today in standing up against hunger and malnutrition; standing up against deaths from preventable diseases; standing up against poor living conditions.  Yes, we are standing up against the lack of basic needs that allow every human being to live in dignity.

What an opportune moment to be standing up against poverty.  Just a few weeks ago, world leaders gathered here at the same place we are standing, to reaffirm their commitment to the Millennium Development Goals.

Many pledged new resources to bolster food security, to reduce deaths of mothers and children, and to put more children into school, among many other vital goals.  These commitments are not a matter of charity, but an obligation in the pursuit of human rights for all.

Current economic uncertainties make this task even more challenging, but also even more important.  But, experience shows that where there is strong resolve and resources, we see progress.  Millions of poor households have risen out of extreme poverty, not just in China and India, but in many countries across the world, including some of the poorest.  Measles vaccinations have prevented 7.5 million deaths.  School enrolment has surged in several African countries following the abolition of school fees.

But we still have a long way to go.  There are still 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty.  More than 30,000 people die of malnutrition, avoidable diseases and hunger every day.

There is no time to waste if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by the target year of 2015.  We must redouble our efforts and form a true partnership for development -- a partnership of rich and poor countries alike, civil society, the private sector and communities.

On this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, tens of millions of people are making their voices heard today.  They are sending messages or signing petitions that call on their leaders to keep their promises.

They are distributing food, donating books, or planting trees, and are calling for the actions of citizens to be matched by the actions of Governments.  They are standing to call on leaders -- from both rich and poor countries -- to deliver on their commitments to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Let us show solidarity with people living in poverty everywhere.  Let us all stand up together to end poverty once and for all.

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For information media • not an official record