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UN Wants to End Poverty by 2015 But Is Wary About the Deadline

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Nepal’s New Prime Minister Envisions Achievement by 2018

Archive» Prime Minister Prachanda addressing the UN General Assembly's High-level meeting. Photo & illustration: eEyeCam

New York, September 25, 2008- Today, when Nepal’s new Prime Minister Pushpakamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ addressed the UN General Assembly High Level event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the round table meeting “Poverty and Hunger”, he said “Despite such solemn pledge, it is ironic that more than a billion people, the so-called “bottom billion”, mostly in developing countries, are still trapped in conditions of grinding poverty with an income of less than a dollar a day. This is unbecoming of the contemporary human civilization, which has so much affluence and prosperity at its disposal.”

Prime Minister Prachanda addressing to the UN General Assembly High Level event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the round table meeting “Poverty and Hunger” Photos: eEyeCam

Prime Minister Prachanda envisions that within the next 10 years Nepal will see the fruits of prosperity, growth and opportunity uplifting Nepalese standard of living. That means Nepal will be in a better position by 2018 or 2020 or beyond, but only if the peace process goes smoothly and our leaders start spending time shaping and implementing development strategies and initiatives. The BIG question is-will it be possible with our corrupt bureaucracy-which sucks out most of the resources when the development budget tries to reach the targeted population and regions.

Prime Minister Prachanda addressing to the UN General Assembly High Level event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the round table meeting “Poverty and Hunger” Photos: eEyeCam

This would be a stumbling block for our ambitious Prime Minister Prachanda as he said today that “investment in development in the poorer countries is an investment in the peace and stability of the world.”

He urged world leaders to unite in combating poverty and hunger, the most grave challenges faced by the third world today. “Our choice should be guided by this imperative. I think it is yet another opportunity for this Assembly to stand up to the challenge of poverty and hunger.”

The before the starting of the UN General Assembly High Level event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the round table meeting “Poverty and Hunger” Photos: eEyeCam

It has already been eight years since the UN and the world’s leaders came together in September 2000 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration. The goal was and is to combat extreme poverty and the many other challenges faced by the majority of the world’s poor by 2015.

The ambitious, and one of the most inspiring initiatives of the UN, the eight goals which are collectively called Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are : (1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, (2) Achieve universal primary education, (3) Promote gender equality and empower women, (4) Reduce child mortality, (5) Improve maternal health, (6) Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, (7) Ensure environmental sustainability, and (8) Develop a Global Partnership for Development.

These goals are important for poorer countries like Nepal because MDGs open the door for rich and affluent countries to offer helping hands to tackle the issues otherwise not possible without outside assistance.

Nepal ranked at 142nd of the total 177 countries in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index 2007/2008. Nepal is ahead of 28 of its 49 fellow LDCs in this index.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report estimates that Nepal and 11 other least developed countries (LDCs) will reach the income threshold in more than 50 years. (Read my article about 49 LDCs)

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Students Peace Observance Day at the UN Headquarters on September 19, 2008. Photos: eEyeCam

Earlier, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "Eradicating extreme poverty continues to be one of the main challenges of our time, and is a major concern of the international community. Ending this scourge will require the combined efforts of all, of governments, civil society organizations and the private sector, in the context of a stronger and more effective global partnership for development. "

The good news is that the UN is bringing people together from all sectors and aspects of their lives, not just the heads of states or representatives, to tackle the world’s challenges of poverty, disease, and illiteracy which affect the most vulnerable people of the poorest countries.

Bill Gates addressing to the UN General Assembly today. Photo courtesy: gatesfoundation.org

The world’s richest person, Bill Gates, co-founder of software giant Microsoft and founder of one of the most committed private sector foundations which named after him and his wife, “The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation” to fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS, also addressed the UN General Assembly. He said “It is unusual for a member of the philanthropic sector to be given the opportunity to address heads of the state here at the United Nations. I am honored by it - and also encouraged. I see it as a sign of partnership; the world understands that no sector acting alone can achieve the goals for humanity that are the mission of the United Nations.”

Gates was right when he said about the deadline 2015 of the Millennium Development Goals, “We are here today to assess where we stand on the Millennium Development Goals. As I look at it, the Millennium Development Goals are like a report card that helps us judge our performance.”

What can we do?
We can: Urge our leaders in our respective countries to engage in the causes of the poor and marginalized people with the goal of achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015 or beyond. We can: Whether setting goals or reaching the deadline, with or without success, is not important. It is important that we keep fighting these challenges until, finally, all people of the world have equal access to health, education and resources for better livelihood.

-Pradeep Thapa Magar in UN Headquarters, New York. Comments? 551-358-7726
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