COL 'We live in 1 world'

Worldwide attack on poverty adopted

For the first time, the leading nations of the world have signed a pledge to reduce poverty in a worldwide campaign.

The agreement, known as the Monterrey Consensus, was approved by the leaders of more than 50 nations after a conference on economic development in Monterrey, Mexico.

At the meeting, leaders of developed nations recognized that there can be no true peace and security in the world until poverty is eliminated. Today, millions of people subsist on $1 a day or less, many suffer from malnutrition and preventable illnesses, and millions of children have no access to education.

The agreement calls for rich nations to donate billions of more dollars in aid to undeveloped countries. In a significant new development, it also urges the latter countries to fight corruption, improve their economic practices and spend the money received efficiently. That provision was designed to meet past criticism that financial aid to some small countries has been wasted because of lack of business skills and corruption.


Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations, has said, "... the developed nations have increasingly come to realize that we live in one world, not two; that no one in this world can feel comfortable while so many are suffering and deprived; that the growing gap between rich and poor is, as President Bush said last week, 'both a challenge to our compassion and a source of instability.'"

Bush has pledged $5 billion over three years to help developing countries upgrade their economies. On the same day, the European Union reported that its member countries would increase their assistance to developing countries by $4 billion a year to a level that is .39 percent of their gross national product. The United Nations target is for the wealthier nations to provide 0.7 percent of their gross national product for foreign aid of this kind.

; Annan said these contributions are significant but that it will take an increase of $50 billion a year in worldwide economic assistance to achieve the goals of reducing poverty, illiteracy and disease throughout the world. That is a staggering sum of money, and yet it would cost less in lives and money than fighting repeated wars.

It has been increasingly clear that poverty-stricken countries are a source of conflict and instability that can directly affect the peace of the world and the welfare of more affluent nations.

The Monterrey conference showed that world leaders can embark on a new path of working together for a cause that benefits the whole world.

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