Monday, March 21, 2005

Annan urges UN members to 'make poverty history'

World governments must embrace a broad strategy ranging from trade and debt forgiveness to handing out mosquito netting to "make poverty history", United Nations chief Kofi Annan says.

More than 1 billion people still live on less than $1 a day, Mr Annan said as part of a report to the 191-nation General Assembly on UN reform.

He argues that while that has been viewed as a sad but inescapable fact of life, "today, that view is intellectually and morally indefensible".

"This is a poverty that kills. A single bite from a malaria-bearing mosquito is enough to end a child's life for want of a bed net or $1 treatment," said the report, based largely on the work of Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia University professor and Mr Annan's top anti-poverty adviser.

Intensive and coordinated international, national and local actions - and a special focus on Africa - are required to meet a UN goal of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015, the report said.


The document strongly linked global security and human rights to development.

It calls on poor nations to adopt national plans for obtaining and putting to work the necessary domestic resources, public investments and outside aid.

Governments must also adopt growth-oriented economic policies to generate jobs, income and taxes, the report said.

"Small and medium-sized firms require a favourable legal and regulatory environment, including effective commercial laws that define and protect contracts and property rights, a rational public administration that limits and combats corruption, and expanded access to financial capital, including micro-finance," the report said.

Wealthy nations must forgive all debt the world's poorest nations owe outside lenders and eliminate barriers to exports from the developing world, it said.

Mr Annan urged rich nations to earmark 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) for development aid, a longtime UN goal widely endorsed in Europe that Washington rejects.

While the United States is the world's biggest donor of aid, it also has the world's largest economy and annually donates just 0.13 percent of its GDP to development aid, excluding gifts of food and aid to Iraq and Afghanistan.

By Just Us 21 March 05


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