The MDG Summit Declaration – what went before

20/09/2010 at 2:51 am 1 comment

The MDG Summit in New York is set to adopt its final declaration already on its first day, tomorrow 20 September. This unusual step has been taken to allow the Heads of State that are participating to use their time in New York to state their commitment to the MDGs.

On the one hand, the negotiators are confident that they have all the UN members on board, and on the other hand, it seems that they want to avoid the problems that beset the recent Copenhagen summit, where last minute changes led to the failure of the meeting.

The MDG Outcome document has been discussed since May, and a first draft was presented to Governments in July. Subsequent suggestions for amendments meant the document increased from 23 to 40 pages…

Over the summer, further negotiations took place, chiefly among the big blocks of countries – G77 (a group of developing countries), the EU, CANZ (Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and the USA, resulting in a compromise proposal that was signed off on on 9 September.

Whereas NGOs across the globe have expressed their disappointment with the lack of new text, it seems that much of the Government discussions focused on the fact that the problem of “foreign occupation” featured 11 times in the draft text. (Obviously, there were many other issues that Governments were unhappy with.)

Overall, you get a sense that most Governments are quite happy with the text. Its key merit is that it keeps the MDGs on the political agendas of the various UN member states, and that it is realistic in its assessment that significant progress towards the MDGs has been made but that our collective effort to make poverty history is falling short.

Far from being the clarion call needed to galvanise the international community, the Outcome Document seems to be more of a Post It note to world leaders, reminding them of what they have already promised to do.

Overall, the document is a restatement, sometimes verbatim, of existing promises and commitments. But there are a few new things in the text:

– An annual review by the UN General Assembly of progress on the MDGs;

– A follow-up Summit in 2013;

– An invitation to the UN Secretary General to initiate a process of reflection towards a post-2015 framework for global Development efforts.

Not the exciting new initiatives we had hoped for, but definitely something that we can work with. Hopefully, in the next few days, Governments and UN Member States – including Ireland – will now set out how they aim to give shape to this renewed pledge to end extreme poverty by 2015…

Entry filed under: Government, MDGs. Tags: , .

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