Implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration

Statement by the NGO Committee on Development (Vienna) addressed to the member states of the United Nations

Vienna, 16 March 2001

We have taken note of the commitments made by governments at the World Summit on Social Development (1995) in regard to development and poverty eradication and solemnly confirmed by the UN General Assembly in its United Nations Millennium Declaration of 18 September 2000. We particularly refer to the deadlines given in Art. 19 of the Declaration, where the member states formulate specific target dates for halving the proportion of the world's people suffering from hunger and poverty, for the reduction of child mortality, the completion of primary education of all children, halting and beginning to reverse the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemics and other diseases, and where they pledge to improve the living conditions of at least 100 million people in the slum areas of the big cities.

We refer to the resolution of the Alternative Conference of NGOs held in New York in connection with the Summit and to the Declaration of the NGO Millennium Forum of 26 May 2000, signed by over 1,000 representatives of non-governmental organizations and civil society.

In the spirit of these resolutions, we urge the United Nations member states having adopted the Millennium Declaration, and in particular the industrialized countries, to do their utmost to advance the deadlines formulated in Art. 19 of the Declaration and to make sure that all the pledges solemnly made under Chapter III (Development and poverty eradication) are effectively realized.

So many deadlines set by previous United Nations conferences have been missed, so many solemnly declared commitments have not been honoured up to the present day – which compels the representatives of international civil society to carefully monitor the implementation of international conventions, resolutions and declarations.

In regard to the Millennium Declaration, we would like to draw the member states' attention to the fact of unequal relations among rich and poor countries, and we expect of those countries that have the means to actively commit themselves to achieving – or, in view of the urgency of the problems, advancing – the deadlines set for the improvement of the living conditions of the underprivileged sectors of the world population. We further urge the industrialized countries of the North and the international financial institutions to make a generous step towards the cancellation of the debts of the developing countries so as to open up an opportunity for peaceful economic development of the poorest sectors of world society.

Economic globalization has meant the widening of the gap between rich and poor countries and in each country. What is required now is a globalization of conscience on the part of those who benefit from this new system, above all on the part of the more powerful actors of the international community, particularly in the industrialized world. If decisive action is not taken – within a precisely defined time frame – in regard to environmental problems, water shortages in many developing countries, the HIV/AIDS epidemics, the issue of child mortality, and the problem of poverty in general, serious threats to international peace and security will result and may reach a state in which they cannot be contained by political means.

In conformity with the NGO Millennium Forum, we reiterate our vision of a world where peace and human security, as envisioned in the principles of the United Nations Charter, replace armaments, violent conflict and wars; of a world where everyone lives in a clean environment with a fair distribution of the earth’s resources. In that regard, we emphasize our firm commitment to monitor the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration and we appeal to all signatories of the Declaration to contribute to the speedy achievement of its goals. Only such a strategy will preserve the credibility of a policy of peace and partnership among all nations as stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations.