MDG = Must Devote Greater?

Attention?  Resources?  Commitment? Finances?  Or perhaps all of the above and of course, Greater focus on human rights.  

Today’s media is abuzz with the opening of the United Nations Summit in New York where world leaders will meet to discuss the progress (or lack thereof) on the specific targets which were set ten years ago to reduce the level of global poverty.  

A senior UN official described the meeting as a ‘moment of truth’ according to a BBC News online report. If discussions are to be frank and honest, all the leaders would have to admit that the progress isn’t as great as it could have been, and in some areas – it’s been a dismal failure (see Steve B’s blog from last Thursday).

Admittedly as the BBC piece points out, ‘poverty has fallen, but progress has been uneven, and most of the goals are off-target to meet the deadline.’

Some of today’s media has speculated as to what is really needed to bring real change: Gordon Brown’s comment in the Financial Times today focuses on the need to make education accessible to all to lift African countries out of poverty and onto an equal footing with the rest of the world’s top economic traders.

The Guardian tracks the progress of the past five years in African countries where the rates of maternal and infant mortality are high through the lens of the lives of ten children and their families. As the Guardian notes, one of the ten children selected five years ago died just days after born – a tragedy particularly telling of the reality faced by hundreds of thousands of families each year in many countries in Africa, a reality which MDG 4 was designed to combat.

Meanwhile the Independent has assessed the views of leading global economists and think tanks and has concluded that the Goals need a total rethink.  

With five years to go before the eight goals are due to be met, many may well think that it’s too late to start rethinking these goals. But what is not impossible is the need
to ensure that human rights are placed at the core of any future poverty reduction efforts.

The momentum around these goals must be harnessed so that they can be used to bring about a far deeper and longer term change that is necessary for people living in poverty.  

Unless human rights are placed at the core of poverty reduction efforts, little will change for those who need it most.

Specifically governments should work to put an end to discrimination and promote equality and participation to ensure that the MDGs are inclusive and can prioritise the most disadvantaged.

Human rights have so far been excluded from the rhetoric within the goals. But it is clear ten years on that without it, very little lasting impact will ever be achieved.

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