UN summit has failed Africa, says Geldof

Click to follow
Indy Politics

The Live8 organiser told a press conference at the UN's 60th anniversary summit in New York yesterday that the organisation had missed an opportunity to build on the pledge to double aid to Africa made by G8 leaders in July.

He said the section of the UN summit declaration on trade subsidies was "a clawback" from the agreement at Gleneagles, which raised the prospect of a timetable for eliminating them.

Sharing a platform with Tony Blair, Sir Bob gave a less positive verdict on the UN summit than the Prime Minister following criticism from some aid groups that he had oversold what was achieved at Gleneagles and become too close to the Government. The former rock star said he felt "a sense of disappointment" because the UN gathering had originally been called to review progress on its Millennium Development Goals to tackle poverty and disease but had been "suborned" by other issues. The progress made by the G8 "should have been accelerated and added to in the UN", he said.

The UN statement on debt was "not good enough for the world forum" and he warned that there would be a "disaster" if the International Monetary Fund and World Bank did not approve the G8's plans when they meet later this month.

Sir Bob singled out Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium for criticism but said other countries such as Britain, the United States and Japan could put "a little bit more in the pot".

Although he gave the Gleneagles summit "10 out of 10" on aid, he said he could only give the UN gathering a "four". "I am not thrilled," he added.

At the same press conference, Mr Blair acknowledged the need to ensure that the "pressure is kept up" so that the G8 leaders' commitments were adhered to.

But he insisted the Gleneagles pledges on aid had been "safeguarded" at the New York meeting, which ends today when the General Assembly will approve a 35-page declaration that has been watered down from the original goals set by Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general.

Privately, British officials admitted they would have liked stronger language on aid and trade but said the 191-member General Assembly would have been unlikely to include them in their communiqué without the breakthrough at Gleneagles in July.

Olusegun Obasanjo, the President of Nigeria, described the UN summit as a "qualified success" but admitted he would have liked to have seen "a little more" to build on the "great leap forward" at Gleneagles.

Britain welcomed plans agreed in principle by the UN for a $1bn emergency fund to enable it to respond more quickly to humanitarian disasters such as Niger and Darfur. It should be formally approved in November and come on stream in January.

Hilary Benn, Britain's International Development Secretary, said: "Delays in getting aid to those who need it cost lives. That is why we need to ensure we have the means to deliver it straight away and why we need this emergency fund."

Before returning to London last night, Mr Blair attended the launch of a new drive to tackle global problems by Bill Clinton, the former US President.

The first Clinton Global Initiative conference, which attracted about 50 world leaders, discussed plans to address poverty, religious strife, governance and climate change. A $100m foundation will work on the alleviation of poverty.

Comments