UN:17 October 2007 – Joining the tens of millions of people around the world who made their voices heard today in a collective action to ‘Stand Up and Speak Out Against Poverty,’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for greater efforts to deliver on the pledge to slash destitution, hunger, disease and illiteracy by 2015.
Mr. Ban led more that 900 diplomats and UN staff members gathered at an event in the garden of the UN Headquarters complex in New York.
“Today, tens of millions of people are making their voices heard,” Mr. Ban said. “They are sending messages or signing petitions that call on their leaders to keep their promises. They are calling for the actions of citizens to be matched by the actions of governments, in developing as well as developed countries, in support of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” – the internationally agreed targets to halve extreme poverty and address other social ills by 2015.
Noting that the “global scorecard is mixed” at the midpoint in the race to reach the MDGs by 2015 with some regions, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, not on track to attaining the Goals, he called for a redoubling of efforts and the formation of a “true partnership for development” between rich and poor countries.
“Let us all stand up. Let us demonstrate the political will required to end the scourge of poverty once and for all,” Mr. Ban declared, as he led those gathered in reciting an anti-poverty pledge.
Also participating in the event, which coincided with the observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, was General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim, who commended the commitment of men, women and children around the world who have taken up the initiative to draw greater international attention to extreme poverty.
In a statement issued to mark the International Day, Mr. Kerim urged countries to use the current General Assembly session to build consensus for urgent action to achieve the Millennium Goals.
The Headquarters even also featured testimonies from people facing extreme poverty, a musical piece, and the presentation of awards to five children who won the UN’s international children’s art competition on ending poverty. Over 12,000 children took part in the competition, and the six winning designs will be issued as UN stamps in 2008.
Today’s programme was part of the global “Stand Up and Speak Out Against Poverty” campaign, with people across the world physically and symbolically standing up against poverty during a 24-hour period. The drive is organized by the Millennium Campaign, a UN inter-agency initiative, in collaboration with a range of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith-based groups and social movements.
Last year’s events drew over 23 million people worldwide, setting a Guinness World Record. This year’s events are expected to draw even greater numbers, breaking last year’s record.