In 2000, all 191 member states of the United Nations signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration. In the declaration, the United Nations set goals to encourage development and growth on a global scale by 2015. These goals included eradicating poverty, promoting gender equality and combating a diverse range of diseases from HIV/AIDS to malaria. Now, on Sept. 25, the United Nations will examine their progress and evaluate what changes need to be made to stay on track. Despite the strong basis for development, the United Nations simply doesn’t seem to have the weight to accomplish their lofty goals.
This is not to say that the Millennium Declaration has been a failure. The goals that the United Nations set in 2000 were admittedly very ambitious for such important issues, and the UN has made some progress toward accomplishing them. Some of the actions taken by the United Nations have yielded fantastic results as one of the most effective anti-poverty movements in history, resulting in over a billion people being lifted out of poverty. Furthermore, the initiatives have helped to make great strides in educational equality and led to major strides in the eradication of diseases and hunger on a worldwide scale. The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, recognized that while improvements have clearly been made, without more focused targets, they will not reach the poor and marginalized people of the world. The issue that we see arising is not the scope of vision that the United Nations has created, nor the way that they went about combatting the problems they faced in the affected countries.
The true dilemma lies in the ability of the United Nations to close out what they started and to truly make a lasting impact in less developed areas of the world — ones where governments are less willing and able to deal with issues such as hunger, women’s rights and infant mortality. The UN has set a strong framework for future action to be taken by other nations, but without huge amounts of international cooperation and aid from NGOs, the effectiveness of the Millennium Development Goal campaign will be severely hindered. The UN has succeeded thus far by a fair bit of tailwind from groundbreaking developments in the fields of health and technology. If the UN wants to take a leading role in the implementation and success of their goals, it must take firmer stances to accomplish this. In order to truly fix problems such as those targeted in the Millennium Declaration, the UN has to instigate more tangible action to back its lofty goals when it comes to global issues.
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A version of this article appeared in the Monday, September 21 print edition. Email Patrick Seaman at [email protected]