September 10, 2010 / 5:42 AM / 7 years ago

UN goals to slash poverty, hunger achievable: draft

4 Min Read

<p>A malnourished baby cries in his mother's lap inside Medicine Sans Frontieres intensive care unit near Sheshemene, southern Ethiopia, June 8, 2008.Radu Sigheti</p>

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A set of U.N. goals aimed at drastically reducing poverty and hunger worldwide by 2015 are achievable, despite setbacks caused by the global financial and economic crises, a draft document said.

The 27-page draft declaration on the U.N. Millennium Development Goals is expected to be formally adopted at a September 20-22 summit meeting at the United Nations which U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are expected to attend.

"The Millennium Development Goals can be achieved, including in the poorest countries, with renewed commitment, effective implementation, and intensified collective action by all (U.N.) member states and other relevant stakeholders," said the draft, which was obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

It says the economic and financial crisis represented a serious obstacle for the goals, which were agreed in 2000 and are aimed at halving poverty, slashing hunger, improving gender equality and improving access to health care and education.

"We are deeply concerned about the impact of the financial and economic crisis -- the worst since the Great Depression," the draft says. "It has reversed development gains in many developing countries and threatened to seriously undermine the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015."

All 192 U.N. member states, as well as international blocs like the European Union, African Union and organizations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and others are expected to participate in the three-day summit.

Diplomats said the final draft was agreed by U.N. member states on Thursday after disputes over language referring to countries under foreign occupation were resolved.

Oxfam: Draft Thin on Specifics

The draft expressed "deep concern at the multiple and interrelated crises, including the financial and economic crisis, volatile energy and food prices and ongoing concerns over food security, as well as the increasing challenges posed by climate change and the loss of biodiversity."

A spokesman for the international humanitarian aid organization Oxfam, Louis Belanger, complained that the draft document was thin on recommendations for specific actions or policy changes aimed at achieving the MDGs.

"Oxfam's main problem with this is that it's not action orientated," Belanger said. "There's little of the 'how' these commitments will be achieved."

The draft also called for reform of international financial organizations like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. It stressed the key role that trade plays as "an engine of growth and development" worldwide.

"We emphasize the need to resist protectionist tendencies and to rectify any trade distorting measures already taken that are inconsistent with (World Trade Organization) rules," it said, adding that developing nations and others have a right "to fully utilize their flexibilities" regarding WTO rules.

It also called for the early completion of the Doha round of global free-trade negotiations, scaled-up action to combat and treat HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases, and further steps to reduce maternal and child mortality.

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