Counting down to the MDG summit

The UN Headquarters in New York will host the MDGs summit © UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata

By Jose Luis Diaz Head of Office and Representative at the UN

The Millennium Development Goals review summit next week in New York will take place amid the ritual – and logistical-security headache – that usually surrounds the opening of the annual session of the UN General Assembly. This means double the complications for anyone trying to move around the immediate area of the UN Headquarters from 20 to 24 September, especially.

Advance police and security teams are scouting out the venues of the high-level meetings, as well as the streets and buildings in the vicinity. To say the area is abuzz with anticipation is perhaps an overstatement – it takes more than the dozens of presidents, prime ministers and assorted monarchs expected to come for the summit to get those who live and work around here excited.  But nerves are beginning to get frayed.

The difficulties we civil society groups in particular will have, just to get physically near the summit, mirrors in a way how difficult it has been to get our concerns into the summit’s final declaration, or “outcome document”, that will probably be adopted on 22 September.

We wanted the Summit to identify concrete steps that could be taken to ensure that governments address the barriers that people living in poverty face in accessing healthcare, education, housing etc., the discrimination that they experience and the lack of accountability; all of which are contributing to the uneven progress on the MDGs.

We believe the document as it stands falls short on many levels. While there is some good language on gender discrimination and equality, references to human rights are mostly rhetorical, with no real provision for measuring progress or ensuring government accountability.

This is one of the points Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, will be making in his various discussions during the summit.

Salil will take part in one of the summit’s six official “roundtables”, looking at how the different MDGs are to be achieved by the 2015 deadline. He’ll explain how the human rights framework is indispensable if the MDGs are to really make a difference for those most in need.

The whole of the Amnesty delegation will be calling on countries to beef up the results of the summit by committing to take concrete actions to incorporate human rights into their MDG efforts.

25,000 call for action on MDGs (Blog, 17 September 2010)
Failure to respect human rights means MDGs are excluding the poorest people (News, 16 September 2010)
Take Action: Put human rights at the heart of the global fight against poverty (Web action)
Governments urged to do more to prevent women dying in pregnancy and childbirth (News, 16 September 2010)
States must not ignore human rights in efforts to end poverty (Report, 9 June 2010)

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