New urgency for poverty talks, but major weaknesses remain

“These talks are starting to reflect the urgent nature of the current poverty crisis.”
Ariane Arpa
Director General, Intermon Oxfam (Spain)
Published: 30 November 2008

International negotiations taking place today in Doha have begun to recognize the need for urgent action to help finance the battle against global poverty, according to Oxfam International. But the document that is currently on the table still fails to provide the decisive, action-orientated outcomes that are required.

“At last these talks are starting to reflect the urgent nature of the current poverty crisis,” said Ariane Arpa, head of the Oxfam International delegation in Doha. “They now at least recognize that it is not just for the G20 countries to oversee the much needed review of the international financial architecture, but that the UN also has a vital role to play.”

The talks, taking place at a major UN conference on Financing for Development, had at one point appeared to be on the brink of breaking down.

“Thankfully, it seems that total failure has now been avoided,” said Arpa. “Credit must go to the President of the UN General Assembly for wiping the slate clean and producing a draft document that has now won the backing of the EU. There is still a long way to go, however. There is every danger that the current version will be considerably watered down by non-EU members of the G8.”

In addition, Oxfam International believes that the document now under discussion remains fundamentally weak, in particular on aid issues – where it fails to explicitly reconfirm the commitment made at the G8 summit in Gleneagles in 2005 to increase annual aid to $130 billion by 2010.

“So far the conference is falling well short of our expectations,” said Arpa. “A failure to address key issues such as falling aid and the huge problem of tax evasion will mean that it will not provide the concrete and decisive outcome that poor countries had been promised.”

Notes to Editors

For more information, please contact: Dan Timms, +44 7810 181 514, dtimms@oxfam.org.uk