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Development and Poverty Reducation

Since 1945 the world has witnessed unprecedented official development policies and impressive global economic growth. Yet this period of growth has very much benefited the developed world whilst millions live in poor and destitute conditions. Poverty, hunger and disease remain widespread, and women and girls continue to comprise the majority of the world's poorest people. During the 1980s and 1990s, the worldwide promotion of neo-liberal economic policies by international financial institutions has been accompanied by increasing inequalities within and between states. The income ratio of the top 20% global population in the richest countries to 20% in the poorest countries stood at 30:1 in 1960, 60:1 in 1990 and reached 74:1 in 1997.

The enormity of the current challenges was recognised in the UN in 2000 with the acceptance of the Millennium Development Goals. These are time-limited, quantifiable targets across eight areas which have lent vital cohesion to international development policy. Encompassing health, education and poverty, the MDG's constitute a global partnership between the developed and developing countries of the world - in the words of Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, 'a global deal ... built on mutual commitments and mutual accountability.' The first goal was the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, with the target of halving the proportion of people living on less then a dollar a day by 2015.

Despite the unprecedented consensus in favour of the MDG's, forecasts suggest that most of the targets will not be met by the 2015. Those successes which have been achieved are highly uneven with progress in East Asia, Northern Africa and Latin America offset by stagnant and even deteriorating conditions in Sub Saharan Africa. Consequently, an independent advisory body, commissioned by the UN Secretary-General, was set up to called the UN Millennium Project to advise the UN on strategies for achieving the MDG's. Headed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the research of the Millennium Project involved a panel of 265 development experts which presented its findings, Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals to the Secretary-General in January 2005. Among the Millennium Project's recommendations: Rich countries need to double their aid to poor countries to an average of 0.5% of their national income, trade rules need to be changed and spending must target areas like slum upgrades and scientific research. Although, ambitious, the report calls the goals 'utterly affordable.' 

Investing in Development is the first in a series of major global initiative on the MDG's in 2005. These events will culminate in a high-level summit of the General Assembly on the Goals in September. The Report of the UN High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change was commissioned by the UN Secretary-General to generate new ideas about the kinds of policies and institutions required for the UN to be more effective and make recommendations for providing a new vision of collective security in the 21st century. The Report states that development and security are inextricably linked. Combating poverty will not only save millions of lives but also strengthen States' capacity to combat terrorism, organised crime and proliferation- Development makes everyone secure.

2005 World Summit
The 2005 World Summit, 14–16 September 2005, was a follow-up summit meeting to the United Nations' 2000 Millennium Summit, which led to the Millennium Declaration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Representatives (including many leaders) of the 191 (now 192) member states met in New York City for what the United Nations described as "a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take bold decisions in the areas of development, security, human rights and reform of the United Nations."

The event was billed as the "largest gathering of world leaders in history," and featured appearances of numerous heads of state and heads of government. The majority of those present addressed the UN General Assembly, and gave speeches reflecting on the U.N.'s past successes and future challenges. All 191 member states gave an address in some form- if the head of state or government was not present the nation's foreign minister, vice president, or deputy prime minister usually sufficed. The meetings were presided over by the Prime Minister of Sweden, Göran Persson.

The significance of both these Reports were reaffirmed by the Secretary-General in his report to the General Assembly, In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All. The main message of the report is that aims of the Millennium Declaration and the MDG's can be achieved if member-states are willing to adopt a package of specific, concrete decisions and use the summit meeting in September to show their commitment in its implementation. The report argues that development, security and human rights go hand in hand because in a world of inter-connected threats and opportunities, it is in each country's self-interest that all of these challenges are addressed effectively. The cause of larger freedom can only be advanced if nations work together; and the United Nations can only help if it is remoulded as an effective instrument of their common purpose. 

In the United Kingdom, measures have been taken to efforts have been made to increase awareness of development issues via its important work on Our Common Interest: Report of the Commission for Africa