The year 2005 has been a chosen focus of civil society groups working to end poverty, especially in Africa. These groups have concentrated on three main areas: aid, debt cancellation, and trade justice.
Yet September’s United Nations World Summit, intended to further progress on internationally agreed development targets—the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—ended in disappointment for many campaigners who were hopeful that world leaders would have made stronger commitments to new policies to “make poverty history.” Instead, even U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan agreed that the summit’s outcome document had been watered down. This reflected the difficulty of having so many countries agree to joint strategies, with the U.S. government in particular playing a problematic role on the language concerning the MDGs. The United States’ U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, worked to limit new commitments on development made by the U.S. and other rich countries.
As the U.N. Millennium Campaign noted in its statement on the summit’s outcome document, “The current slow progress on achieving the Millennium Development Goals should have led to a much greater sense of urgency among world leaders on the need for action, compelling them to announce concrete measures to meet the goals at a minimum by 2015.”
What did happen in the three areas of aid, debt, and trade? On aid, those countries that had already made a commitment to contribute 0.7 percent of their GDP towards overseas development assistance (and only those countries) were asked to create a firm timetable to meet this goal by 2015.