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H.E. Ms. Michelle Bachelet Jeria, President

24 September 2008

Statement Summary

MICHELLE BACHELET JERIA, President of Chile, said the world had changed tremendously since the Assembly had adopted the Millennium Declaration.  The world now faced increasing problems, such as climate change, terrorism and the food crisis, while at the same time, economies and communications had become more interdependent.  Those changes had created more opportunities, as well as more risks and inequities.  While progress had been made towards the Millennium Development Goals, there had been regrettable setbacks.  The optimism that began in a century called the “millennium of hope” was dissipating.  More than 100 million people had fallen into extreme poverty because of the food crisis.  The global financial crisis could make matters worse.  All of these crises impacted the world’s poorest people, and it was crucial to review the Goals.

The international community needed to expand its notion of progress and freedom.  It could not squander the improvements in science and technology that could, for the first time, assure the welfare of all humanity.  The current financial crisis showed how greed and the irresponsibility of a few could plunge the world into uncertainty.

Without a clear course of collective action by States and civil society, none of the current problems could be tackled, nor could agreed development goals be achieved.  She called for the support of emergency measures to deal with the food crisis, and an urgent commitment to multilateralism and reform of international institutions, such as the United Nations, to make them more democratic and representative.  It was also necessary to achieve an accord at the Doha Round of World Trade Organization talks and obtain concrete results at the follow-up Conference on Financing for Development.  Member States should also work to achieve success at the upcoming Copenhagen conference on climate change in 2009.

President Bachelet noted that Chile was on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals ahead of the 2015 target date, proving it was possible to eradicate poverty in an environment of democracy and freedom.  The country had made social investments and advanced in many areas, including health, education and quality of life, as it provided broader gender opportunities.

She pointed to the growing power of democracy in her region, and said South American nations had worked together recently to establish a dialogue and find a peaceful solution to the political crisis in Bolivia.  That had shown the strength of democracy and human rights, and the region’s desire to leave its dark history behind.

She went on to say that national policies were not enough, and international agreements needed to be forged to govern globalization, while extending democracy and social rights to citizens everywhere.  She noted the upcoming sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and how that instrument had advanced humanity by helping to end centuries of death, torture and abuses of power.  It had opened the door to further advancements in the area of human rights.  She hoped the same would occur with the Millennium Declaration, which needed to be transformed into an ethical and political imperative for Governments around the world.

[Source: GA/10751]