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UN’s Millennium Development Goals in 2010, Summary and Soft Critique

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The UN General Assembly met on February 12th, 2010 to discuss progress made toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in light of a 2015 target date. As was outlined by the original resolution, Secretary Ban Ki-moon has the duty of providing a report to the GA on current progress made. The 2010 report is broken down into four sections: 1) how the Millennium Declaration drives UN development agenda, 2) review of progress made, 3) lessons learned and success factors, and 4) specific recommendations for action. This document’s purpose is to summarize, analyze, and then critique the strong and weak content of the Secretary General’s report. Thus, it will be organized in a similar manner starting off with a brief history of the Millennium Declaration, then a summary of the 2010 report’s primary content, and ending with an analysis and critique of weak and strong points.

On September 18th, 2000, during the 55th session of the UN General Assembly, 189 world leaders adopted Resolution 55/2. Titled United Nations Millennium Declaration, the nine-page resolution outlined steps necessary to “realize our universal aspirations for peace, cooperation and development” (UNGA, 55/2, pg. 9). It was a complex resolution that, relying on established values and principles, listed seven key objectives that could “create a shared future, based upon our common humanity” that would allow for sustainability, development, and equitability (55/2, pg. 2). The resolution provided a foundation for global progress toward “a just and lasting peace” (UNGA, 55/2, pg. 1).

The 2010 report is titled Keeping the promise: a forward-looking review to promote an agreed action agenda to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The report calls for a “new pact to accelerate progress in achieving the Goals in the coming years among all stakeholders” (UNGA, 64/665, pg. 1). The report establishes that “The Millennium Development Goals are the highest profile articulation of the internationally agreed development goals associated with the United Nations development agenda…” (UNGA, 64/665, pg. 2). Numerous positive developments among nations, non-profits, businesses, and NGOs took place because of the original NMD’s call for cooperation and commitment. The Secretary General (SG) suggests that achieving all the NMG encompasses is still “feasible with adequate commitment” (64/665, pg. 2). Ultimately the charge falls on stakeholders, the term applied to all those governments, business communities, civil societies: “…to work in cohort to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals are met by 2015” (64/665, pg. 3).

The report points out several major accomplishments including “combating extreme poverty and hunger, improving school enrollment and child health, expanding access to clean water and HIV treatment and controlling malaria…” (UNGA, 64/665, pg. 3). Specifically, the report compares statistics in measles deaths, as the number of deaths in sub-Saharan Africa has decreased dramatically. But the report brings bad news with the good, suggesting that progress has been uneven when comparing certain world regions (UNGA, 64/665, pg. 3). In addition to unevenness, the progress has been slow. Five major objectives are still largely unmet: poverty, global hunger, employment, access to education, and gender equality. Within each of these some progress has been made, but the full goal has not been realized. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, enrollment in primary education went from 58% in 2000 to 74% in 2007. But the dropout rate from primary school remained high regardless.

The report goes into detail on significant health-related Millennium Development Goals that have been achieved. HIV infections fell 30%, deaths among children 5 and younger have decreased as well, and statistics show measles are less deadly than they used to be. There have also been some areas with little progress, like neonatal infant death rates, which account for 36% of deaths for children 5 and under. Maternal mortality lacks positive progression, as maternal death rates today are the same as in 1990. The report highlights some emerging issues that have arisen since the start of the MDG: climate change, financial markets, food security, conflict refugees; these are some challenges that, according to the report, have had little or no development towards the 2015 goal.

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