News Release

The United Nations Summit — Being Derailed?

YIFAT SUSSKIND
SUNILA ABEYSEKERA
BETTY MURUNGI
TARCILA RIVERA ZEA
Susskind is the associate director of MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization. She said today: “This week’s United Nations World Summit — originally intended to assess governments’ progress on pledges to reduce poverty and promote development by 2015 — is in danger of being derailed by the United States.” Abeysekera is the executive director of INFORM, a human rights organization based in Sri Lanka. In 1998, Abeysekera was awarded the prestigious United Nations Human Rights Award. Murungi is an international human rights lawyer from Kenya and former chair of the Executive Committee of the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice of the International Criminal Court. She was recently selected by a joint civil society-United Nations task force to participate in the U.N. General Assembly Hearings with Civil Society in June 2005, a precursor to the World Summit. Zea is the executive director of the Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Cultures of Peru with expertise in indigenous peoples’ rights and sustainable development.
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RASHEDA CHOUDHURY
In a statement released this week, the Global Call to Action against Poverty, a worldwide anti-poverty coalition whose organizations together represent more than 150 million people, said: “This was the summit that was going to make poverty history. Originally billed the ‘United Nations Millennium +5 Summit,’ the objective of this week’s gathering of world leaders at the United Nations was to review progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Shamefully, as the negotiations stall and commitments are watered down, faceless decision-makers appear oblivious to the human cost. … The world has never been richer, yet the number of people living in extreme poverty is on the increase worldwide.” Choudhury is a grassroots educator from the Bangladesh Campaign for Popular Education. She said today: “Unbelievably, leaders are backtracking on previous commitments, let alone taking the bold steps needed to eradicate extreme poverty.”
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[Background: The Millennium Development Goals are eight targets agreed to by over 190 governments in 2000 to help eradicate poverty through action by developed and developing countries. They focus on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other preventable diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development. The first Millennium Development Goal, on getting an equal number of girls into school as boys, has already been missed this year.]

SAMEER DOSSANI
Dossani is the director of the 50 Years Is Enough Network. He said today: “The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank — two of the most influential international institutions — play a major part in impeding the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals that are being discussed at the U.N. Millennium Summit. Through international debt, the IMF and the World Bank control the economic decision-making of most of the countries of Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the former Soviet Union.”
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NEIL WATKINS
Watkins, national coordinator of the Jubilee USA Network, said today: “As world leaders gather in New York, we are still decades away from meeting the modest Millennium Development Goals to halve extreme poverty. A critical tool for achieving these goals is debt cancellation. A recent study by U.K. charities found that at least 62 low-income nations would require full debt cancellation — in addition to more aid and trade justice — as a first step towards achieving the goals.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167