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Red tape hinders poverty alleviation

Peter Maurer called on the UN to fight poverty more effectively Keystone

The Swiss ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Peter Maurer, has criticised global efforts to combat poverty.

This content was published on February 12, 2005 - 14:57

Maurer said that attempts to help the poor were often held up by red tape and were unrealistic.

The ambassador made his comments to the UN General Assembly on Friday during a discussion of a report on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This project aims to reduce worldwide poverty by 2015 by setting out eight targets. These include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, providing universal primary education and fighting diseases like Aids.

A team headed by Jeffrey Sachs, a former economics professor from Harvard University, was behind the report, called Investing in Development.

Switzerland welcomed the report's recommendations, which were first published in January.

“The ten recommendations... form a balanced, interdependent and coherent whole... [and] we approve it in principle,” said Maurer.

The report puts the onus on donor nations to come up with long-term strategies to increase development finance and implement coherent policies.

Switzerland accepted that there was much work ahead if the MDGs were to be achieved.

“Serious efforts are still necessary... too many poverty-reduction strategies are still characterised by a technocratic approach and are divorced from reality,” said Maurer.

Switzerland was well aware that an increase in foreign aid was necessary to realise the MDGs, but this in itself was not enough.

“Experience shows that the quality of aid must also be radically improved at the same time.”

Going further

Maurer also expressed the view that the report did not go far enough – adding that more attention should have been accorded to human rights and population issues.

“Substantial additional efforts by all partners concerned will be needed to implement all fundamental human rights, in particular women’s rights and the whole spectrum of gender and sexual rights.

“This is a crucial point... a sine qua non if the Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved,” he said.

The ambassador also stressed that the task of tackling environmental problems should be “integrated into the next generation of strategies to combat poverty, together with the issue of reducing the risk of disasters".

swissinfo

Key facts

By 2015, the Millennium Development Goals hope to:
Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Achieve universal primary education
Promote gender equality and empower women
Reduce child mortality
Improve maternal health
Combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases
Ensure environmental sustainability
Develop a global partnership for development

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