Summit gives poor more hope than help
Saturday 11 March 1995
Delegates from 184 states reached agreement yesterday on a final declaration on eradicating poverty that is to cap the UN's first social summit. The document, which includes a statement of principles and a plan of action, is to be approved over the weekend by the summit, attended by 115 heads of state and government.
Representatives of developing countries, home to most of the world's 1.3 billion poor, expressed some satisfaction with the summit's work. "It [the summit] will lead to very real steps that will allow us to work together to cut poverty around the world," said Cielito Habito, chairman of the organisation of more than 130 developing countries known as the Group of 77. But as heads of state and government began arriving to sign the declaration tomorrow, Juan Somavia, the main committee chairman, and individual delegations were involved in what one observer from a non-governmental organisation (NGO) dubbed "silver-lining time" - putting the best face on the summit's decidedly limited outcome. The Group of 77 claimed a breakthrough over agreements to consider debt cancellation and to address debt problems in middle- and low-income developing countries. But the wording merely invites creditors to consider cancellation and leaves country-to-country debt to be negotiated under December's Paris Club rules.
The summit's most innovative proposal, under which donor countries would devote 20 per cent of aid to basic social programmes while developing countries spent 20 per cent of their national budgets on the same goal, was made purely voluntary and dubbed "20/20 between consenting adults" by Mr Somavia. With no definition of "basic social programmes", which include primary education and health, and no requirement to implement the proposal, the agreement was seen as almost worthless by some NGOs.
Mr Somavia defended it: "Let it make its way, and those who want to do it show through practice how well it works." His call came as the World Bank publicly acknowledged it had not done enough to protect such social expenditures as countries go through the structural adjustment to market economies.
Baroness Chalker, the overseas aid minister, arrived in John Major's place to make a bullishly free-market speech in which she declared free trade to be "the key to global prosperity". She consciously referred to "poverty reduction" rather than the summit's aim of "eradication". While aid was important, "ultimately every government and society must make this journey [to reducing poverty] through political will and its own efforts". Oxfam, which she praised, attacked her core message, with Patricia Feeney, its policy adviser, saying the free-trade formula "cannot be taken seriously as an answer to Africa's problems when it has 3 per cent of world trade and only 1 per cent of investment. It is not a serious proposition."
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns aged 27
- 3 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
- 4 Nicki Minaj finally releases predictable 'Anaconda' video
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
James Foley 'beheaded': PM cuts holiday short for emergency meeting on British response to latest Isis atrocity
Michael Brown shooting: Police shoot and kill second young black man near Ferguson
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns aged 27
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
Iraq crisis: Islamic State's message to America - 'We will drown you all in blood'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...