UN chief sets new goals to reduce poverty

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The Independent US

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, challenged world leaders yesterday to commit to a series of new goals, to help erase conflict, disease and poverty around the globe, when they gather for the Millennium UN Summit in New York later this year.

In what amounted almost to a new manifesto for the UN, Mr Annan called for action on halving by the year 2015 theproportion of the world's population living on less than a dollar a day (60p) - now at 22 per cent. By the same year, he said, all children should complete primary education.

Presenting a 58-page report called We the Peoples, Mr Annan insisted that, "we put people at the centre of everything we do". He added: "No calling is more noble, and no responsibility greater, than that of enabling men, women and children, in cities and villages around the world, to make their lives better."

The report will form the agenda for the summit. Set for 6-8 September, it is open to the political leaders of all the 188-member states of the UN. Officials predict that at least 130 leaders will attend the meeting, which would make it the largest gathering, at such a high political level, in history.

The secretary general warned that the forces of globalisation were bringing most benefit to countries that were already wealthy.

"The central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalisation becomes a positive force for all the world's people, instead of leaving billions of them behind in squalor," Mr Annan said.

Other goals in the report including halting the advance of HIV infections by 2015 and, more specifically, halting the HIV infection rate among people aged 15 to 24 by 25 per cent globally by 2010.

It also asks for the creation of a UN volunteer corps to train people in developing countries in using the internet.