Powerful countries set to betray hopes of millions at UN World Summit

Published: 1 November 2005

Less than three weeks away from the UN World Summit, the world’s largest ever anti-poverty campaign is gravely concerned that countries including the United States are undermining the Summit outcome, and ensuring its failure. The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) warns that by cutting agreed wording designed to end poverty, governments are trying to edit away the future of the world’s poorest people.

Less than three weeks away from the UN World Summit, the world’s largest ever anti-poverty campaign is gravely concerned that countries including the United States are undermining the Summit outcome, and ensuring its failure. The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) warns that by cutting agreed wording designed to end poverty, governments are trying to edit away the future of the world’s poorest people.

The current draft of the Summit outcome declaration contains strong statements on fighting poverty. However, the United States has proposed deleting key wording on tackling global poverty and disease. The proposed US changes include cutting all references to the Millennium Development Goals - the internationally agreed targets for halving world poverty. The US also wants to cut all references to small arms controls and weaken wording on all governments’ responsibility to protect civilians in cases of mass killing such as the Rwandan genocide.

The United States is the main culprit in trying to water down the proposals, with the tacit approval of many other governments. Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder are even threatening not to attend the crucial Summit.

If the declaration is so substantially weakened, the largest gathering of world leaders in history will result in failure.

Currently, 1.2 billion people around the globe live on less than one dollar a day and half the world's population - three billion people - live on under two dollars every day.

“The World Summit could go down in history as the meeting where the most powerful people in the world turned their backs on the poorest,” said Kumi Naidoo, chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty. “If leaders refuse to even mention the commitments they made at the millennium summit, they will leave no doubt about their intentions towards the world’s poor.”

“Importantly,” Naidoo continued, “a growing number of citizens in these rich countries are showing greater commitment to fighting global poverty than their governments, who are, in fact, betraying their citizens’ sense of a common global humanity.”

Millions of people across the world as part of the Global Call to Action against Poverty are calling on their leaders to honor their word and keep their commitments. United by the campaign’s global symbol, the white band, world leaders will be ‘woken up’ to poverty on 10 September, just before leaving for New York, by alarm bells, marches and iconic buildings wrapped with the white band.

Contact Information

For further information contact:
Kate Norgrove, knorgrove@gmfc.org, 44 7813 164 160
1. The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) is the world’s largest anti-poverty coalition, whose organizations together represent more than 150 million people globally. The campaign is aiming to make a breakthrough on poverty in 2005 and is calling for world leaders to ‘wake up’ and take concrete steps at the United Nations to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and end poverty once and for all. The coalition is made up of national campaigns across 74 countries, including ''MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY'' in the UK, ‘Wakati Ni Sasa’ (The time to act is now) in Kenya and ‘Sin Excusas contra la Pobreza’ in Paraguay among many more. The global symbol of the campaign is a white band. See www.whiteband.org for more information.
2. Releases to follow this week on the second White Band Day of 2005; 10 September, just days before world leaders arrive in New York for the UN summit.
3. Interviews available with:
Kumi Naidoo, (South Africa), Civicus, and chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty Roberto Bissio, (Uruguay) Social Watch Justin Kilcullen, (Ireland) Trocaire, The Irish Catholic Agency for World Development and Concord, the European Confederation of Non-Governmental Development Organizations