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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 September 2010

UN fails to meet development goals

THE UNITED Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals were set amid much fanfare in 2000. There were eight anti-poverty goals ranging from ending poverty and hunger to universal education and child and maternal health.

A target was set for these goals to be reached by 2015. In September the UN met to review progress towards these targets and what is needed to be done in the next five years.

The UN verdict was that progress "falls far short of what is needed" and the targets are unlikely to be met. Between 1990 and 2008, the mortality rate of children under five in developing countries declined only from 10% to 7.2% - far from the target of a two-thirds reduction by 2015. Maternal mortality declined only from 480 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 450 deaths in 2005. The 2015 goal is closer to 120.

The developed capitalist countries agreed in 2000 to contribute 0.7% of GDP to development assistance but so far the United States, Germany, Italy and Japan have fallen far short of this. The US contributed 0.2%, the average was 0.3%; in total 20 billion short of what was promised. The effects of the recession and the threat of a further "double dip" recession in the US and Europe mean there can be no expectation that these figures will improve.

The background to the failure to meet these meagre attempts to reduce poverty has been the increase in food prices. According to the Economist prices have risen 17% in the last year and this is having a devastating effect on the poor.

Larry Elliot in the Guardian argues that these massive increases are due at least in part to hedge funds and financial speculators buying up farms in poor countries to profit from China's increasing reliance on imported food.

Far more progress would be made tackling poverty if these crooks and gangsters were brought to justice. Despite all the fine words from the world's most powerful politicians in New York, the UN is silent on the real causes.

John Sharpe

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In The Socialist 29 September 2010:


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