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News Outlets Examine MDGs Challenges: Communicating To Public, NGOs Charge Draft Declaration Falls Short

AllAfrica.com reports on a “fellowship hosted by the U.N. Foundation” last week “to educate the media about progress that has been made on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) thus far and what still needs to be done before the 2015 target date for achieving them.”

At the three-day conference, speakers included: Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute Jeffery Sachs, special advisor to the Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals; Sir Mark Lyall Grant, permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations; Ambassador Frederick Barton, representative to the Economic and Social Council from the United States Mission to the United Nations; and John McArthur, chief executive officer of Millennium Promise, according to the news service.

The article notes the conference participants’ concerns about translating the aims of the MDGs to the general public. “Going forward, the United Nations confronts a communications challenge: how to put a ‘human face’ on the MDGs,” allAfrica.com reports. “U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wants to focus more attention on MDG 4  – reducing by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five – and MDG 5 – reducing by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio and achieving universal access to reproductive health. Progress towards meeting these key targets by 2015 is behind schedule” (Oloruntoba, 9/12).

In related news, Inter Press Service examines the draft declaration for the U.N. MDG Summit, noting the worries expressed by some NGOs “that the completed text, called an outcome document, falls short of the substantial action plan it was hoped to be and is instead a rehash of already-made promises and generalised commitments.”

“[N]otably absent from the list is access to clean water and sanitation, which the U.N. in a resolution declared a basic human right in late July. The resolution proved to be a divisive one, however, with 41 countries, including the United States, Britain and Canada abstaining from the vote,” IPS writes. “Although water and sanitation is not explicitly framed as a human right in the final outcome document, they appear frequently throughout as basic needs essential to achieving the MDGs.” IPS also notes how the document failed to include a statement declaring gender equality to be “a basic human right.”

The article elaborates on several points of contention between the EU and U.S. and the G77 developing countries, and how the two sides were able to come to agreements, as reflected in the draft document. The piece includes comments by Emma Seery, a spokesperson for Oxfam International (Muscara, 9/10).

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