International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, 17 October 2006

Message of the Secretary-General

The theme for this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – “Working together out of poverty”—highlights the need for a truly global anti-poverty alliance, one in which both developed and developing countries participate actively.

The world has made real but insufficient progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Thus, while extreme poverty declined significantly between 1990 and 2002—from 28% to 19% of the developing world’s population—progress has been uneven both within and between regions and countries. In much of Asia, economic and social progress has lifted nearly a quarter of a billion people out of perpetual poverty. But poverty rates in Western Asia and Northern Africa have remained stagnant, while the transition economies of Eastern Europe and Central Asia have registered increases. And sub-Saharan Africa lags the most, with the region unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

Clearly, more needs to be done to tackle poverty and underdevelopment. The Doha trade negotiations need to produce freer and fairer trade for all. Developed nations need to come through on their Official Development Assistance (ODA) and debt relief commitments. Developing nations, for their part, should prioritize the Millennium Development Goals and, if they have not yet done so, adopt national strategies to achieve them. They should utilize ODA flows to bolster national capacities in a sustainable manner, emphasizing better governance and strengthened rule of law. And countries already on track to achieve the Goals can aim higher still by adopting even more ambitious targets.

Regrettably, the “global partnership for development” remains more phrase than fact. This has to change. All key development actors – governments, the private sector, civil society and people living in poverty – must undertake a truly collective anti-poverty effort that will lift living standards and alleviating human suffering.

The campaign to make poverty history—a central moral challenge of our age—cannot remain a task for the few, it must become a calling for the many. On this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I urge everyone to join this struggle. Together, we can make real and sufficient progress towards the end of poverty.


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