U.N. MDGs Summit Concludes With ‘Outcome Document’

The three-day U.N. Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ended Wednesday with world leaders “adopting a declaration agreed [to] earlier this month, which promised intensified efforts by the 192 U.N. member states to achieve the world body’s so-called Millennium Development Goals by 2015,” Reuters reports (Worsnip/Wroughton, 9/22).

“‘We are convinced that the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved, including in the poorest countries, with renewed commitment, effective implementation and intensified collective action by all member states and other relevant stakeholders,’ the summit, attended by some 140 heads of state and government, pledged in a final outcome document,” U.N. News Centre writes.

“The 31-page document which touched on virtually every aspect of global issues beyond the headings of each of the eight MDGs, from human rights to corruption to climate change, focused particularly on actions, policies and strategies to support those developing countries that are lagging most behind and those goals that are most off track, thus improving the lives of the poorest people.”

Additionally, “the summit declared that fulfilment of all official development assistance (ODA) commitments, including those by affluent countries to achieve the target of 0.7 percent of gross national product (GNP) for ODA to developing countries by 2015 is crucial for achieving MDG-8, developing a global partnership for development. These commitments include reaching at least 0.5 percent of GNP by 2010, with a target of 0.15 to 0.20 percent to least developed countries,” the news service notes (9/22). The Economist features a graphic offering a progress report on the MDGs (9/22).

U.N. Launches Global Strategy To Reduce Deaths Of Women, Children

During the summit Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon officially “launched a $40 billion plan aimed at saving the lives of 16 million women and children over the next five years,” Reuters reports (Worsnip/Wroughton, 9/22).

“The issues of maternal and child mortality have been a particular focus of the summit, which reviewed efforts to implement anti-poverty goals adopted in 2000 – and found them lacking,” the Associated Press writes. “Worldwide every year, an estimated 8 million children still die before reaching their 5th birthday, and about 350,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth,” according to the AP (Snow, 9/22).

“The 21st century must be and will be different for every woman and every child,” Ban said during the formal launch of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health [.pdf], U.N. News Centre reports. “The Global Strategy identifies the finance and policy changes needed, along with vital interventions to help improve health and save lives. It is expected to prevent, between 2011 and 2015, the deaths of more than 15 million children under five, as well as 33 million unwanted pregnancies and the deaths of 740,000 women from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth,” the news service adds (9/22).

Speaking at the announcement event, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Ban, “You can count on the United States and the Obama administration for the success of this initiative,” the AP adds (9/22).

The $40 billion “pledged by governments, foundations, businesses and non-governmental organizations … covers both domestic investment and aid to other countries,” Reuters continues. “U.N. officials said nearly $27 billion was new money being announced by governments – indicating the rest had already been committed since plans for a global strategy for women’s and children’s health were first disclosed in April. Some $8.6 billion was coming from low-income countries, they said” (9/22).

“To help ensure that [the strategy] is successful, several agencies, including [UNICEF], the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the Joint U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank are collaborating to mobilize ongoing political and operational support, including fighting for universal access to care for all women and children,” according to the U.N. News Centre (9/22).

To coincide with the women’s and child health strategy announcement, “an international alliance was launched Wednesday to support reproductive, maternal and newborn health,” Inter Press Service reports. “The alliance includes the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation” (Deen, 9/22).

“This five-year alliance aims to increase access to family planning and reduce maternal and neonatal deaths in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa,” Clinton said, according to a transcript issued by the State Department (9/22). “Family planning plays a crucial role in improving the health of women and children throughout the world,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said, IPS adds. “By bringing the comparative advantages of country partners and donors through this alliance, we will bolster health outcomes in countries striving to improve the lives and health of its women, girls, and newborns,” he said (9/22).

U.N. Women News Conference; U.S. Joins Sexual Violence Prevention Effort

A lack of respect for the rights of women is slowing progress in maternal health and efforts to stop sexual violence, Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, head of U.N. Women, said at a news conference in New York following the announcement of yesterday’s $40 billion pledge to improve the health of women and children, Bloomberg reports.

“Women are almost invisible in some places,” Bachelet said. “They are second-class citizens. They are seen as people without rights. It is a shame for humanity.”

The U.N.’s work on women’s issues has fallen victim to “inadequate funding and fragmentation,” Bachelet said. “She also said economic advancement is critical to meeting all of the U.N. poverty and hunger reduction aims … and to advancing democratic governance in developing countries. ‘We have to improve their share of paid employment,’ she said, noting that women hold as low as 20 percent of jobs outside agriculture in the world’s poorest nations. ‘Also, as long as they provide the only care for children and the elderly, they will not have economic opportunities'” (Varner, 9/23).

Also Wednesday at a reception coinciding with the MDG summit, the U.S. State Department announced it has joined a global effort to end sexual violence against girls, Xinhua/Manila Bulletin reports (9/23).

According to a State Department press release: “Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, announced that the U.S. Department of State has become an official partner of Together for Girls – the global partnership to end sexual violence against girls announced last year by President William J. Clinton at the Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. Through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and in collaboration with the Office of Global Women’s Issues, the U.S. Department of State is the newest partner to join Together for Girls” (9/22).

Sanitation Target ‘Far Off Track,’ Malaria Control ‘On Track To Reduce Deaths,’ Ban Says

“We are on track to meet the target for water, but all reports indicate that the MDG target for sanitation is far off track,” Ban said Wednesday,” the Canadian Press reports. Reports reviewed by leaders at the MDG summit “showed that half of the world’s population in developing nations has no sanitation at all” (Moore, 9/22).

“With 2.6 billion people not having access to basic sanitation services such as toilets, the sanitation target is likely to be missed. If the current trend continues, the number is expected to climb to 2.7 billion by 2015,” U.N. News Centre writes (9/22).

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf “said 26 of 54 African countries were on track to meet the target to halve the number of people without safe drinking water by 2015, but that only six nations looked set to meet the sanitation goal,” Reuters reports. “(Inadequate water and sanitation) increases the likelihood of disease and death, it perpetuates poverty,” Ban also said, “Water is not only a necessity, it’s a human right” (Popper, 9/22).

In other news, “[w]orld leaders … announced that several countries with endemic malaria are on track to reduce deaths from the disease,” Daily Monitor reports. “Ray Chambers, the U.N. Secretary-General’s special envoy for malaria said, currently enough nets are in place to protect 75 percent of those at risk, and malaria endemic countries will reach universal coverage by December 31, 2010,” according to the newspaper.

Ban said the world’s anti-malaria effort “stands as an example of successful implementation and effective collaboration” (Lirri, 9/23). “African leaders announced several efforts to help achieve this goal, including eliminating taxes and tariffs on bednets, medicines and other life-saving products; banning artemisinin monotherapies that increase disease resistance; and enhancing Africa’s capacity to produce safe and effective anti-malaria products,” U.N. News Centre writes (9/22).

Chinese PM Addresses Health During Summit; IPS Examines Fragile States’ Call To Address Conflict

In an address to the summit on Wednesday Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao outlined “a six-point proposal to step up China’s foreign aid efforts,” Xinhua reports, including efforts to “reduc[e] and cance[l] the debts for the least developed nations”; “expan[d] economic and trade relations with developing countries”; and “furthe[r] cooperation with developing countries in agriculture.”

“From now on, China will further strengthen and improve its foreign assistance and contribute to its due share to an early realization of the MDGs throughout the world,” Wen said during his address (9/23).

China Daily reports that during Wen’s speech to world leaders, he vowed the Chinese government’s commitment to tackling HIV/AIDS in China as well as abroad. “We cannot turn a deaf ear,” Wen said during his address. “We should redouble our efforts to advance the global campaign against HIV/AIDS, and ensure that the related MDG be met on schedule.” The article includes statistics on the number of Chinese believed to be living with HIV/AIDS and the challenges the country has faced in trying to reduce new infections (9/23).

Wen also met with Ban on Wednesday to discuss the MDGs, according to the U.N. News Centre. “They noted China’s success in reducing poverty, saying it could serve as an example for many other countries,” the news service writes (9/22).

In other news, Inter Press Service examines the plight of “fragile states” whose calls to address “conflict and fragility have been largely ignored in the outcome document” of the MDG summit. The fragile states, collectively known as the g7+, first met at a conference in April where they issued a statement calling for donors to work with them in order to achieve the MDGs.

The g7+ issued a consensus statement for the MDG summit, which was delivered by Timor Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta. “Accounting for almost 350 million global citizens, the g7+ stands as the sole independent assembly dedicated to their plight,” said Ramos-Horta. “All too often international engagement is slow in action and blocked by administrative and bureaucratic constraints. These hinder the effective and real-time engagement required to counter uncertainty, conflict, destruction and loss of life,” he added. “Prioritisation should include the principles of peacebuilding and statebuilding as mechanisms to achieve the MDGs,” Ramos-Horta said.

IPS writes: “Despite this call to action, the New York outcome document makes bare mention of conflict and fragility.” The article includes additional quotes from the President of Sierra Leone and Helen Clark, head of the U.N. Development Program (Crook, 9/23).

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