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United Nations Millennium Declaration

United Nations Millennium Declaration

Declaration

By: United Nations

Date: September 8, 2000

Source: "United Nations Millennium Declaration." United Nations, September 8, 2000.

About the Author: The United Nations was first conceptualized by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt soon after World War II. To promote democracy and fight against various problems of the world, representatives from fifty-one countries officially established the United Nations on October 24, 1945. Headquartered in New York, the United Nations is committed to preserving world peace through international cooperation and collective security. The organization has six main entities—the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the Secretariat, and the International Court of Justice.

INTRODUCTION

Since the 1980s, many countries of the world have chosen to adopt globalization, an integration of economic, cultural, political, and social systems across all geographical regions. Global integration gives rise to new rules of trade that bind national policies. In the era of globalization, government decisions have significant impact on not just the local community but also on the international community.

According to the 1999 Human Development Report, global opportunities are unevenly distributed between countries and people. Incomes and lifestyles of people vary drastically throughout the world. Between 1990 and 1997, nearly 1.3 billion people lived on less than a dollar a day, and close to one billion were unable to meet their basic daily requirements—a majority of these in underdeveloped or developing countries. Moreover, about 840 million people were reported to be undernourished or starving. In the same period, more than 260 million children were out of school at the primary and secondary levels.

Health and pollution standards also require significant improvement, especially in underdeveloped countries. Every year, nearly three million people die from air pollution—more than eighty percent of them from indoor air pollution—and more than five million from gastro-intestinal diseases caused by water contamination. On the health front as well, an alarming trend has been observed. In 1998, more than thirty-three million people had HIV/AIDS, with almost six million new infections in that year. In this case, as many as ninety-five percent of the 16,000 people infected with this disease each day were living in developing countries.

Gender equality is another key concern. In the twentieth century, little change was observed in the status of women, especially in southern and western Asia and northern Africa. In these regions, women occupied only twenty percent of paying jobs (outside the agricultural sector). Other cases of gender inequality are seen throughout the world. On an administrative level, though representation of women in governments increased since the early 1990s, they held only sixteen percent of parliamentary seats worldwide.

With the aim of addressing such global concerns and strengthening the role of the world body in meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century, the United Nations General Assembly decided to designate its fifty-fifth session (starting on September 5, 2000) as the Millennium Assembly of the Millennium Summit. During the Millennium Summit, 147 heads of state and governments representing 189 member states of the United Nations (UN) adopted the Millennium Declaration with the purpose of combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women across the world. In order to achieve these goals, eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were drawn that address a variety of issues. These goals were set for the year 2015 with reference to the global situation prevalent in 1990. The text of the Millennium Declaration is excerpted here.

PRIMARY SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS MILLENNIUM DECLARATION

The General Assembly

Adopts the following Declaration:

United Nations Millennium Declaration

I. Values and principles

  1. We, heads of State and Government, have gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 6 to 8 September 2000, at the dawn of a new millennium, to reaffirm our faith in the Organization and its Charter as indispensable foundations of a more peaceful, prosperous and just world.
  2. We recognize that, in addition to our separate responsibilities to our individual societies, we have a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level. As leaders we have a duty therefore to all the world's people, especially the most vulnerable and, in particular, the children of the world, to whom the future belongs.
  3. We reaffirm our commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, which have proved timeless and universal. Indeed, their relevance and capacity to inspire have increased, as nations and peoples have become increasingly interconnected and interdependent.
  4. We are determined to establish a just and lasting peace all over the world in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter. We rededicate ourselves to support all efforts to uphold the sovereign equality of all States, respect for their territorial integrity and political independence, resolution of disputes by peaceful means and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, the right to self-determination of peoples which remain under colonial domination and foreign occupation, non-interference in the internal affairs of States, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for the equal rights of all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion and international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character.
  5. We believe that the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world's people. For while globalization offers great opportunities, at present its benefits are very unevenly shared, while its costs are unevenly distributed. We recognize that developing countries and countries with economies in transition face special difficulties in responding to this central challenge. Thus, only through broad and sustained efforts to create a shared future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity, can globalization be made fully inclusive and equitable. These efforts must include policies and measures, at the global level, which correspond to the needs of developing countries and economies in transition and are formulated and implemented with their effective participation.
  6. We consider certain fundamental values to be essential to international relations in the twenty-first century. These include:
    • Freedom. Men and women have the right to live their lives and raise their children in dignity, free from hunger and from the fear of violence, oppression or injustice. Democratic and participatory governance based on the will of the people best assures these rights.
    • Equality. No individual and no nation must be denied the opportunity to benefit from development. The equal rights and opportunities of women and men must be assured.
    • Solidarity. Global challenges must be managed in a way that distributes the costs and burdens fairly in accordance with basic principles of equity and social justice. Those who suffer or who benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most.
    • Tolerance. Human beings must respect one other, in all their diversity of belief, culture and language. Differences within and between societies should be neither feared nor repressed, but cherished as a precious asset of humanity. A culture of peace and dialogue among all civilizations should be actively promoted.
    • Respect for nature. Prudence must be shown in the management of all living species and natural resources, in accordance with the precepts of sustainable development. Only in this way can the immeasurable riches provided to us by nature be preserved and passed on to our descendants. The current unsustainable patterns of production and consumption must be changed in the interest of our future welfare and that of our descendants.
    • Shared responsibility. Responsibility for managing worldwide economic and social development, as well as threats to international peace and security, must be shared among the nations of the world and should be exercised multilaterally. As the most universal and most representative organization in the world, the United Nations must play the central role.
  7. In order to translate these shared values into actions, we have identified key objectives to which we assign special significance.

II. Peace, security and disarmament

8. We will spare no effort to free our peoples from the scourge of war, whether within or between States, which has claimed more than 5 million lives in the past decade. We will also seek to eliminate the dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction.

9. We resolve therefore:

  • To strengthen respect for the rule of law in international as in national affairs and, in particular, to ensure compliance by Member States with the decisions of the International Court of Justice, in compliance with the Charter of the United Nations, in cases to which they are parties.
  • To make the United Nations more effective in maintaining peace and security by giving it the resources and tools it needs for conflict prevention, peaceful resolution of disputes, peacekeeping, post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction. In this context, we take note of the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations and request the General Assembly to consider its recommendations expeditiously.
  • To strengthen cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter VIII of the Charter.
  • To ensure the implementation, by States Parties, of treaties in areas such as arms control and disarmament and of international humanitarian law and human rights law, and call upon all States to consider signing and ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
  • To take concerted action against international terrorism, and to accede as soon as possible to all the relevant international conventions.
  • To redouble our efforts to implement our commitment to counter the world drug problem.
  • To intensify our efforts to fight transnational crime in all its dimensions, including trafficking as well as smuggling in human beings and money laundering.
  • To minimize the adverse effects of United Nations economic sanctions on innocent populations, to subject such sanctions regimes to regular reviews and to eliminate the adverse effects of sanctions on third parties.
  • To strive for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, and to keep all options open for achieving this aim, including the possibility of convening an international conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers.
  • To take concerted action to end illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons, especially by making arms transfers more transparent and supporting regional disarmament measures, taking account of all the recommendations of the forthcoming United Nations Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.
  • To call on all States to consider acceding to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, as well as the amended mines protocol to the Convention on conventional weapons.

10. We urge Member States to observe the Olympic Truce, individually and collectively, now and in the future, and to support the International Olympic Committee in its efforts to promote peace and human understanding through sport and the Olympic Ideal.

SIGNIFICANCE

Endorsement of the Millennium Declaration is considered a significant event in world history as it was signed by world leaders and not ambassadors of countries (which is usually the case). The Millennium Declaration gave an impetus to the United Nations to pursue various goals and policies in addressing serious concerns. In implementing one of the most comprehensive declarations in the history of the UN, several changes had to be made to existing policies. The Declaration assumes great significance as it addresses numerous issues faced by the entire world.

The eight MDGs based on the Declaration are to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and to devise a global partnership for development of countries. Experts state that the MDGs are significant because they are people-centric, achievable, measurable, and time-bound. Moreover, they provide an appropriate medium for channeling global development efforts.

World leaders claim that a global initiative such as the Millennium Declaration is essential to effectively address discrepancies in growth in different regions of the world. For instance, in 1990, the proportion of extremely poor people in developing countries was twenty-eight percent, compared to twenty-one percent in 2001. However, these positive gains were observed in certain developing regions, such as Asia, only. In sub-Saharan Africa, a reverse trend was observed as millions experienced abject poverty.

Though the Millennium Declaration is acknowledged as a step in the right direction, slow and uneven progress has been achieved since it was implemented. The UN is also confronted with several complex challenges. One of the goals of the Declaration is to reduce child mortality by two-thirds in 2015. The UN states that progress in this case has been hampered due to several reasons such as political unrest, increase in population, diseases, lack of medical care, and malnutrition. Similarly, owing to diverse country-specific impediments, there has not been much improvement in maternal health and widespread diseases, such as AIDS and malaria.

Some of the other challenges faced by the global community are establishing mobility of financial resources and political will, motivating governments to re-engage and re-orient their development policies, and garnering adequate support from the private sector. Concerns about improper data collection have also been raised. According to the UN, inconsistent data on poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy in developing and underdeveloped countries affects implementation of MDGs in these countries. Nevertheless, the Millennium Declaration has led to slow, but positive, gains.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Books

United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Report 1999: Tenth Anniversary Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Web sites

Choike.org. "In Depth: Millennium Development Goals— MDGs." <http://www.choike.org/nuevo_eng/informes/ 302.html> (accessed June 8, 2006).

Global Policy Forum. "The Millennium Summit and Its Follow-Up." <http://www.globalpolicy.org/msummit/millenni/index.htm> (accessed June 8, 2006).

United Nations. "Road Map Towards the Implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration: Report of the Secretary-General." September 6, 2001. <http:// www.un.org/documents/ga/docs/56/a56326.pdf> (accessed June 8, 2006).

United Nations Statistics Division. "Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, 1990–2005." June 13, 2005. <http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mi/mi_coverfinal. htm> (accessed June 8, 2006).

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