With delegates from around the world assembling in New York for the sixty-fifth annual UN General Assembly, Stewart Patrick, CFR’s UN specialist, says there is “increased sentiment in the UN General Assembly and also within the UN Secretariat that there is really a crisis of relevance to the world body and the organization.” Although he points out that the UN is very important in areas like refugee relief and places like Afghanistan, and in some peacekeeping missions, “when you think about the big, global problems that have been plaguing us over the past few years, what we find is that the United Nations hasn’t always been at the center of global responses to these.” He cites the economic crisis and the inability of the UN Climate Control summit last December to do much. And he says that the highly touted Millennium Development Goals, which will be the subject of the opening of the GA, are falling short in many areas, in part because of the world economic crisis.
The UN General Assembly is returning for its sixty-fifth annual session, and there’s a new twist this year–a special three day session to open the General Assembly, on a review of the Millennium Development Goals. What are the Millennium Development Goals, and how relevant are they to the workings of the UN ?
The Millennium Development Goals are a set of ambitious targets agreed on by UN member states at the UN Millennium Assembly in 2000 that the world is supposed to reach by 2015. They basically pertain to poverty reduction, education and expanding opportunity for education around the world, efforts to increase gender equality, global health interventions to deal with things like maternal and child health and to focus on particular diseases like HIV/AIDS. In addition, the goals call for environmental sustainability. These MDGs, as they are called, have been an extremely useful tool for mobilizing attention by the international community. You had a huge number of Hollywood personalities who have jumped on the bandwagon to try to ensure that the world makes progress on these.
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