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Home >> World
UPDATED: 12:12, August 10, 2005
UN warns poverty fuels terror
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The US Government's neglect of commitments to alleviate global poverty is fuelling the creation of impoverished states that are breeding grounds for terrorism, a United Nations (UN) adviser said.

President George W. Bush's administration has acknowledged poverty's rule in nurturing terrorist hotbeds including Afghanistan, but is failing to meet United Nations' targets designed to raise basic living standards, said Jeffrey Sachs.

"The war on terror cannot ever be won if the war on poverty isn't won," said Sachs, the UN Secretary-General's special adviser on the UN Millennium Development Goals.

"If we continue this combination of high rhetoric and grossly insufficient action, I think the risks to (the United States') own national security ... and the risk to global stability are very real."

The UN member states committed in 2000 to eight millennium goals that hinge on increases in foreign development aid budgets of individual states to meet specific poverty, disease and environmental degradation reduction targets in the developing world.

Most developed nations, particularly the United States, were not meeting these commitments and thus condemning large parts of the developing world, particularly Africa, to economic despair that feeds the growth of international terror networks, Sachs said.

Washington was ignoring a key commitment of raising foreign development aid to 0.7 per cent of gross national product by 2015, he said.

US foreign development aid constituted 0.16 per cent of the country's GDP in 2004, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development data indicates. That compares to the European Union's decision in April to increase development aid to 0.56 per cent of the grouping's gross national income indicator in 2005 to pave the way to achieve the 0.7 per cent target by 2015.

The Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries decided last month at its summit in Gleneagles, Scotland to increase annual foreign development aid flows by at least US$50 billion as of 2010, with at least half of that increase to Africa.

Sachs praised that move, but cautioned that challenges remained in ensuring G8 members honour their commitment.

"I have no illusions that even with the promises made at Gleneagles, getting them turned into reality remains a very intense struggle ahead," he said.

The five-year review meeting in September that will assess global progress in meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals by their 2015 deadline is a key opportunity for the developed world to redouble efforts to head-off the global destabilizing impact of extreme poverty.

"I'm meeting African leaders throughout the continent that are dynamically and creatively pursuing bold (poverty reduction) strategies and seeking our support that hasn't yet come adequately."

Well-spent foreign development aid bolstered by transparent accounting and distribution measures can help reduce poverty in a way that an increasingly fairer global trading system cannot do alone, Sachs said.

"Trade is important, but I visit places that are so cut off from world markets that they aren't really part of the local economy, let alone the world economy," Sachs said.

Source: China Daily

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