General Assembly President urges partnership to end poverty

18 June 2007 –

Tackling global poverty requires a concerted effort by governments of developed and developing countries supported by the private sector, civic groups, the media and other players on the international scene, United Nations General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa has told a gathering on financing for development in Doha.

The President said yesterday there is a “desperate need to accelerate progress” toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of anti-poverty targets to be reached by 2015.

“Our ability to deliver on our promises – partner and donor countries – is also reflection of our commitment to effective multilateralism, and building greater trust among the global community,” she told the more than 90 participants attending the two-day meeting.

She noted that foreign aid dropped from $106 billion in 2005 – a record high due to debt relief operation to Iraq and Nigeria – to $104 billion last year. Excluding debt relief, official development assistance (ODA) fell by 1.8 per cent in real terms, she said. Aid to sub-Saharan Africa, excluding debt relief, was static in 2006.

“To meet existing commitments by the 2010 target aid will have to increase substantially in 2007 and 2008,” she said, adding that quality of aid is as important as quantity. “The true test of aid effectiveness is the improvement in people’s lives. And in this area there is much more to be done.”

She cited statistics to illustrate the challenges ahead in a world where 270 million children worldwide have no access to health care, 4 million children die each year in the first month of life, more than half a million women die from complications in pregnancy or childbirth, malaria kills 1 million people, tuberculosis 2 million people and AIDS 3 million people.

At the same time, she noted that there has been encouraging progress, evidenced by the increase in life expectancy in the developing world, reduced illiteracy rates and the almost complete eradication of polio.

“In partnership, we have made progress in a number of areas,” she said. “The challenge for all of us is to make good on our commitments and work in closer partnership.”

She said that civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the media and the private sector can all contribute to achieving the MDGs, but stressed that both developing and developed countries must “work to live up to their respective commitments.”

“When poverty is so immediate and the suffering so intense, the world has a moral and strategic obligation, to address the concerns of the poorest and most vulnerable, particularly in Africa,” she said.

“Each of us here today has a responsibility for delivering their share of the commitments we have promised, or holding others to account.”

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