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International Campaign on the Millennium Development Goals

A CIDSE-Caritas Internationalis Paper

October, 2003 Contact:

Posted with permission of the International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE)
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What are the Millennium Development Goals?

The Millennium Declaration was endorsed by all 189 member states of the United Nations at the end of the Millennium Summit held in New York in September 2000.

The declaration listed eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that would combat hunger and poverty and improve education, health, the status of women, and the environment by the year 2015. These goals are an international commitment by all governments, agreed by the heads of states. They are interrelated, so fulfilling one helps to fulfil the others. The first seven goals include measures of human development in poor countries. Each goal has one or more targets, and several quantifiable indicators measure each target.i Each country should adapt the MDGs to its particular national context and report on its progress accordingly.

At the Millennium Summit, world leaders also took on several qualitative targets applicable to rich countries, later collected in an eighth Goal. The key elements of Goal 8, reaffirmed by heads of states at the International Financing for Development Conference in 2002, pledge financial support and policy changes in debt relief, trade and economic governance to assist poor countries’ domestic efforts to meet the first seven Goals.

CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis aim at full poverty eradication and the achievement of social justice as early as possible in all nations, in respect of their diversity. Our member organisations fund development programmes in almost all countries in the South which contribute to complementing governmental and multilateral development programmes.

However, since the basis for regional and national development lies in appropriate global structures, CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis also undertake advocacy and lobby activities with regard to an improved international economic, trade and financial environment that does not impede the development efforts of the South. We believe that it is possible to mobilise faster the necessary resources for eradicating poverty and to achieve more justice in the relation between men and women and regret that the appropriate political will is still missing.

However, the fact that all governments agreed on a minimum of these common goals is a political sign of hope and provides a useful monitoring tool for civil society. For the first time, the world’s leaders have agreed to work together - within a given timeframe - towards a world free from hunger and poverty. If achieved, the Goals would represent a first, even if insufficient step, towards the elimination of poverty worldwide, and they would demonstrate that nations can work together for the common good.

In effect, industrial countries have agreed to extend their own economic policies and promises to poor countries. However, significant progress depends on the commitment of political leaders to implement the promises they have made in the MDGs. It therefore requires organised action on the part of individuals and civil society organisations around the world to hold them to account.

The MDGs combine and simplify the international commitments made at the UN Summits of the past decade. Thus, the MDGs could provide a global policy framework for governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society to fight poverty as well as social and gender inequality.

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