EU must lead the way to fight global poverty at UN World Summit

Published: 24 November 2005

Brussels, 12 September, 2005: As three European Union (EU) Commissioners and several European heads of state and governments are set to head to New York for the UN World Summit this week, international NGOs said today that Europe’s leadership is key to a successful meeting. With a few days left before the arrivals of world leaders, many issues remain unresolved. The EU must make full use of its political muscles to get an agreement over crucial commitments to poverty reduction, human rights and the protection of civilians, said the NGOs.

Brussels, 12 September, 2005: As three European Union (EU) Commissioners and several European heads of state and governments are set to head to New York for the UN World Summit this week, international NGOs said today that Europe’s leadership is key to a successful meeting. With a few days left before the arrivals of world leaders, many issues remain unresolved. The EU must make full use of its political muscles to get an agreement over crucial commitments to poverty reduction, human rights and the protection of civilians, said the NGOs.

ActionAid, Oxfam International, Eurodad and Eurostep warned that the EU must do all it can to stop a small number of countries from sabotaging the summit. The NGOs are particularly concerned that Pakistan, Egypt, Russia, India and the United States are among the states that seem determined to block or water down an historic draft measure on governments' "responsibility to protect civilians" that could stop future genocides such as Rwanda from ever occurring.

More worrying is the position of the United States, which is leading initiatives to weaken commitments to poverty reduction by undermining efforts for more aid, deeper debt relief and trade justice.

“Governments must agree collectively to protect civilians facing large-scale atrocities such as genocide and ethnic cleansing. There is no space for negotiation here as the lives of millions of people living in war zones are at stake. The EU must make its voice heard and convince countries like the US, Egypt, Russia, India and Pakistan to support such crucial move by the UN,” said Luis Morago, Head of Oxfam's office in Brussels.

"The EU has sought to claim moral leadership on the efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. For this stance to be credible, EU leaders must deliver on their promises and ensure that the outcome of the UN World Summit is consistent with their rhetoric,” continued Simon Stocker of Eurostep.

“It is an outrage that the international community has already failed to deliver the first target of eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005. None of the commitments made in 2000 will be reached unless the EU ensures that the UN declaration includes a strong commitment to development, and an explicit acknowledgement that additional efforts are required by all governments," said Louise Hilditch, International Policy Director of ActionAid International.

Eurodad calls on the EU to take collective action to ensure that the outcome document is ambitious on debt. “Debt burdens that prevent countries from investing in the MDGs should be cancelled and it is vital these principles be reflected in the outcome document,” concluded Gail Hurley of Eurodad.

Contact Information

For further information contact:
Louis Belanger, Oxfam International: +32 473 562 260