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Tony Blair’s Arrogance and Fanaticism at the UN

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

Tony Blair’s Arrogance and Fanaticism at the UN

Cuba Reveals How UN Summit Document Was Distorted under Pressure from the United States

Dissatisfaction Prevails at UN Summit

Ricardo Alarcon’s Statement to the United Nations

President Chavez's Speech to the United Nations

“A Miserable Performance” Mbeki Scolds UN Summit

UN Millennium Summit: No Big Deal

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Tony Blair’s Arrogance and Fanaticism at the UN

At last week’s UN summit the Prime Minister delivered two speeches, one to the General Assembly and one to a special Security Council meeting at which the British government tabled a Resolution demanding “the legal prohibition of terrorist incitement”.  Amongst other things, Resolution 1624 condemns “in the strongest terms the incitement of terrorist acts”, and repudiates “attempts at the justification or glorification of terrorist acts that may incite further terrorist acts”. However, as many reports of the summit have stressed, the UN was unable to find an acceptable definition of the terms “terrorist” and “terrorism”. 

             In his statement to the Security Council, Tony Blair called for other world leaders to support the Resolution and stressed that “terrorism” could only be defeated when there was international unity to fight what he called “this poisonous propaganda that the root cause of terrorism lies with us around this table”. He continued by saying that “they want us to believe that somehow it is our fault, that their extremism is somehow our responsibility”, and concluded that “we must unite against this ghastly game with our conscience”.  Blair was wiling to concede that “there are real injustices in the world”, but argued that these were not a cause of terrorism. “The root cause,” he asserted, “is not a decision on foreign policy, however contentious, it is a doctrine of fanaticism.” This, he argued, must be dealt with by “action against those who incite, preach or teach this extremism, wherever they are, in whichever country, and also by eliminating our own ambivalence, by fighting not just the methods of this terrorism but their motivation, their twisted reasoning, their wretched excuse for terror”.

            In his speech to the UN General Assembly, Blair adopted the same self-righteous and bigoted tone. He called for the UN to “become the visible and credible expression of the globalisation of politics”, extolling the virtues of the recent Gleneagles G8 Summit, warning of the dangers of “failed states”, the proliferation of “weapons of mass destruction”, and the dire consequences of poverty in Africa and elsewhere. In his speech, Blair attempted to persuade his audience that the world shared “common values” and that if there were unity based on these values then “the UN can be the instrument of achieving the global will of the people”.

            As always, Tony Blair wishes to adopt the high moral ground, to present himself as the upholder of humanity’s “common values” and the greatest champion of the UN. But in reality, it is his government, alongside the US, that have been at the forefront of attempts to ignore the principles on which the UN was founded and to openly flout international law. It will not do that Blair should hector the General Assembly and attempt to fashion the UN after the Anglo-American image. Tony Blair is so fanatical that he refuses to recognise that country’s big and small, of different social systems and ideologies, must participate in UN decision-making on an equal basis, not only for it to be democratic but to reflect the common humanity of the world’s people. He refuses to allow that it is Britain and the other big powers that have created the conditions for all the fundamental divisions and political, economic and social instability in the world. Britain and the other big powers have unleashed terror and bloodshed around the world and justified it, they defend a global system that condemns millions to starvation, oppression and premature death and yet it is Blair who rails against terrorists and hypocritically condemns “the random slaughter of the innocent”. Now Blair is the biggest champion of the US dictate in the United Nations, as elsewhere in the world.

            The Prime Minister is not willing to take any responsibility for the great problems and instability that face the world, which have been created by Britain, the other big powers and the global system that they defend. Rather he presents his own “doctrine of fanaticism”, that this system must be maintained at any cost, that any who oppose it oppose “universal values” and must be condemned and eliminated, and that “tolerance” and “freedom” require the “suppression of human rights and governance by extremism” which he claims to oppose. These circumstances, where global instability is rife, where truth is stood on its head, and where the suppression of basic rights, at home and abroad, is commonplace pose very great dangers.

            The times require that the working class and people take the initiative and step up their struggles for a different world. As part of this struggle, they must oppose the wrecking that the US and Britain are attempting to carry out with the United Nations, to make its word a dead letter, to impose Anglo-US interests in the name of universal values. WDIE calls on the British working class and people to oppose the unbridled chauvinism and bigotry with which Tony Blair attempts to saddle all peoples and nations with reactionary definitions of the world’s problems. The US is the world’s greatest “failed state”, and it must not be allowed to take down the United Nations into the mire of its failure. Britain must dissociate itself with any such retrogressive adventure.

Article Index

Cuba Reveals How UN Summit Document Was Distorted under Pressure from the United States

Granma International - Havana, Cuba - Wednesday, September 14

Cuba has revealed irregularities and a lack of transparency in the negotiating process for the approved document to be submitted to a summit of heads of state and government here that is beginning at the close of this edition, Prensa Latina reports.

            Abelardo Moreno, deputy foreign minister, affirmed during the closing of the 59th Session of the UN General Assembly that the document contains omissions and distortions of issues previously agreed upon or which do not appear, and that this is the result of pressure from the United States.

            Likewise, Moreno criticised one of the paragraphs in the section titled "Responsibility for protecting populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity." He stated: "The positions adopted in these paragraphs do nothing to guarantee the prevention of the double standards, politicisation and selectivity that have up until now characterised this organisation’s human rights agencies."

            The deputy minister described as negative the non-inclusion of the disarmament issue, at least in language similar to that used in the Millennium Summit, and warned that it "could create a disastrous precedent for the UN’s work".

            Lastly, Moreno commented that it was shameful that the paragraphs related to development, particularly trade, should be so weak that they fail to reflect Third World interests.

            After three weeks of heated discussions on issues of development, human rights, terrorism, disarmament and a new interventionist concept known as responsibility for protection, the select group of negotiators concluded their proposal without even the substance of the original draft presented six months ago.

            Cuba has already charged that the attention of the UN General Assembly has been diverted toward a supposed reform that, far from making it more democratic, seeks to subject it even more to the interests of the powerful.


            In addition, Moreno noted that Ricardo Alarcón, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power, the Cuban Parliament, would be absent from the inaugural session of the UN Summit because Washington had not granted him permission to enter US territory until Tuesday, September 13.


Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced that he was reconsidering attending the UN summit and stated that US entry visas had been denied for his security team, the head of his presidential guard, and his medical team.

            The Venezuelan president noted that calls have been made from within the United States for his assassination, and Venezuelan exiles in military uniforms had even appeared on television calling for his death.

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Dissatisfaction Prevails at UN Summit

United Nations, Sept 16 (Prensa Latina): The World Summit marking the 60th anniversary of the UN was far from a celebration Thursday, with a rainfall of complaints, criticisms and doubts over how to face future challenges.

            A common denominator in the more than 120 speeches delivered since the meeting began on Wednesday has been dissatisfaction and disagreement with proposals to deal with the crucial issues of development, human rights, security and disarmament, among others.

            These proposals are included in a hastily completed 35-page reform project, which was objected to by Cuba and Venezuela, and which is to be approved on Friday by all 153 leaders and other dignitaries attending the summit as a first step toward modernisation of the UN.

            In Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque’s opinion, the Summit convened by the UN to follow up the Millennium Development Goals has strayed from course and failed, due to "strong US pressure and blackmail".

            "This is a lacklustre meeting, and the final document is not an expression of the world’s real problems or their solutions," he told the press.

            South African President Thabo Mbeki termed the approaches to obtain necessary resources to achieve Millennium Development Goals "indifferent and timid".

            To his judgement, the reason Africa has not made any progress in these five years rests on what the document describes as a "security consensus" that has not been reached.

            However, "actions by the rich and powerful have sent strong signals that they are not convinced that a security consensus would serve their interests," he noted.

            So, "they use their power to perpetuate power disparity in global issues and, as a consequence, we have not made enough progress in UN reforms."

            Meanwhile, China urged world leaders to reject interference in other countries as well as the deliberate use or threat to use military force.

            "We should encourage and support efforts for a peaceful solution of conflicts and international disputes through consultation and negotiation," President of the People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao said.

Article Index

Ricardo Alarcon’s Statement to the United Nations

Statement by H.E. Dr. Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, Speaker of the People's Power National Assembly of the Republic of Cuba at the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the 60th Session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 16, 2005

Mr. President: We were summoned in order to review "the progress made in complying with the commitments articulated in the Millennium Declaration" and those "derived from the major UN Conferences and Summits". This aim, however, has been completely distorted.

            Eight objectives and 18 goals had been set, most for the year 2015. They were indeed modest. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, making primary education accessible to everyone, encouraging gender equality and the empowerment of women, reducing infant mortality, improving the health of mothers, combating HIV/AIDS and other transmittable diseases, guaranteeing environmental sustainability and developing Global Partnership for Development.

            Very little has been done to reach these goals. In many of these areas, there has been an outright setback.

            That was what we needed to discuss here, today, to undertake resolute and urgent actions which would allow us to move forward. That was our obligation in this Summit.

            But we are bearing witness to an unforgivable sham. The objective of this meeting was held hostage through tortuous manipulation. Those who fancy themselves the world's owners do not even want to remember those promises and the hypocritical fanfare that came with them.

            What is worse, they seek to impose alleged reforms in the UN which only intend to subjugate the organization completely and transform it into an instrument of their global dictatorship. They would have war and hegemony become norms that the whole world should abide by unquestioningly. Along the way, with the help of submissive coryphaei, they tear the Charter to shreds, seek to reduce the Secretariat to a tool for their designs and insult the Assembly and the world that it, and only it, represents.

            In the name of what? A might whose limits their ignorance keeps them from seeing? A phoney war on terrorism which massacres entire populations and takes thousands of young Americans to their death? A policy that, all the while, hypocritically protects a convicted and confessed terrorist like Luis Posada Carriles and, in violation of US law itself, keeps five innocent people in prison, punishing them because they did combat terrorism?

            Greed, selfishness and irrationality will visit catastrophe upon ourselves, and those who refuse to accept the possibility of a different world, born of solidarity and justice, will not be spared.

            A world without hunger or poverty, which offers everyone a healthy life, education and dignity, a world free of oppression and discrimination, without wars or genocidal blockades, where the exploitation of the weakest has been done away with.

            The powerful can pretend not to believe this, but poor nations have the right to development and will continue to fight for it.

            They will continue to strive for it beyond these walls, outside of this hall. In spite of the blockade, the harassment and threats, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas looms large as an example of solidarity among peoples, returning hope to many, working towards true integration and development and ushering in a better world that all of us will know how to attain. The Alternative, a new dawn, spreads to the world from the South.

Article Index

President Chavez's Speech to the United Nations

September 16, 2005

Your Excellencies, friends, good afternoon:

            The original purpose of this meeting has been completely distorted. The imposed centre of debate has been a so-called reform process that overshadows the most urgent issues, what the peoples of the world claim with urgency: the adoption of measures that deal with the real problems that block and sabotage the efforts made by our countries for real development and life.

            Five years after the Millennium Summit, the harsh reality is that the great majority of estimated goals- which were very modest indeed- will not be met.

            We pretended reducing by half the 842 million hungry people by the year 2015. At the current rate that goal will be achieved by the year 2215. Who in this audience will be there to celebrate it? That is only if the human race is able to survive the destruction that threats our natural environment.

            We had claimed the aspiration of achieving universal primary education by the year 2015. At the current rate that goal will be reached after the year 2100. Let us prepare, then, to celebrate it.

            Friends of the world, this takes us to a sad conclusion: The United Nations has exhausted its model, and it is not all about reform. The XXI century claims deep changes that will only be possible if a new organization is founded. This UN does not work. We have to say it. It is the truth. These transformations – the ones Venezuela is referring to- have, according to us, two phases: The immediate phase and the aspiration phase, a utopia. The first is framed by the agreements that were signed in the old system. We do not run away from them. We even bring concrete proposals in that model for the short term. But the dream of an ever-lasting world peace, the dream of a world not ashamed by hunger, disease, illiteracy, extreme necessity, needs-apart from roots- to spread its wings to fly. We need to spread our wings and fly. We are aware of a frightening neo-liberal globalization, but there is also the reality of an interconnected world that we have to face not as a problem but as a challenge. We could, on the basis of national realities, exchange knowledge, integrate markets, interconnect, but at the same time we must understand that there are problems that do not have a national solution: radioactive clouds, world oil prices, diseases, warming of the planet or the hole in the ozone layer. These are not domestic problems. As we stride toward a new United Nations model that includes all of us when they talk about the people, we are bringing four indispensable and urgent reform proposals to this Assembly: the first; the expansion of the Security Council in its permanent categories as well as the non permanent categories, thus allowing new developed and developing countries as new permanent and non permanent categories. The second; we need to assure the necessary improvement of the work methodology in order to increase transparency, not to diminish it. The third; we need to immediately suppress- we have said this repeatedly in Venezuela for the past six years- the veto in the decisions taken by the Security Council, that elitist trace is incompatible with democracy, incompatible with the principles of equality and democracy. And the fourth; we need to strengthen the role of the Secretary General; his/her political functions regarding preventive diplomacy, that role must be consolidated. The seriousness of all problems calls for deep transformations. Mere reforms are not enough to recover that “we” all the peoples of the world are waiting for. More than just reforms we in Venezuela call for the foundation of a new United Nations, or as the teacher of Simón Bolívar, Simón Rodríguez said: “Either we invent or we err.”

            At the Porto Alegre World Social Forum last January different personalities asked for the United Nations to move outside the United States if the repeated violations to international rule of law continue. Today we know that there were never any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The people of the United States have always been very rigorous in demanding the truth to their leaders; the people of the world demand the same thing. There were never any weapons of mass destruction; however, Iraq was bombed, occupied and it is still occupied. All this happened over the United Nations. That is why we propose this Assembly that the United Nations should leave a country that does not respect the resolutions taken by this same Assembly. Some proposals have pointed out to Jerusalem as an international city as an alternative. The proposal is generous enough to propose an answer to the current conflict affecting Palestine. Nonetheless, it may have some characteristics that could make it very difficult to become a reality. That is why we are bringing a proposal made by Simón Bolívar, the great Liberator of the South, in 1815. Bolívar proposed then the creation of an international city that would host the idea of unity.

            We believe it is time to think about the creation of an international city with its own sovereignty, with its own strength and morality to represent all nations of the world. Such international city has to balance five centuries of unbalance. The headquarters of the United Nations must be in the South.

            Ladies and gentlemen, we are facing an unprecedented energy crisis in which an unstoppable increase of energy is perilously reaching record highs, as well as the incapacity of increase oil supply and the perspective of a decline in the proven reserves of fuel worldwide. Oil is starting to become exhausted.

            For the year 2020 the daily demand for oil will be 120 million barrels. Such demand, even without counting future increments- would consume in 20 years what humanity has used up to now. This means that more carbon dioxide will inevitably be increased, thus warming our planet even more.

            Hurricane Katrina has been a painful example of the cost of ignoring such realities. The warming of the oceans is the fundamental factor behind the demolishing increase in the strength of the hurricanes we have witnessed in the last years. Let this occasion be an outlet to send our deepest condolences to the people of the United States. Their people are brothers and sisters of all of us in the Americas and the rest of the world.

            It is unpractical and unethical to sacrifice the human race by appealing in an insane manner the validity of a socioeconomic model that has a galloping destructive capacity. It would be suicidal to spread it and impose it as an infallible remedy for the evils which are caused precisely by them.

            Not too long ago the President of the United States went to an Organization of American States’ meeting to propose Latin America and the Caribbean to increase market-oriented policies, open market policies-that is neo-liberalism- when it is precisely the fundamental cause of the great evils and the great tragedies currently suffered by our people. : The neo-liberal capitalism, the Washington Consensus. All this has generated is a high degree of misery, inequality and infinite tragedy for all the peoples on his continent.

            What we need now more than ever Mr. President is a new international order. Let us recall the United Nations General assembly in its sixth extraordinary session period in 1974, 31 years ago, where a new International Economic Order action plan was adopted, as well as the States Economic Rights and Duties Charter by an overwhelming majority, 120 votes for the motion, 6 against and 10 abstentions. This was the period when voting was possible at the United Nations. Now it is impossible to vote. Now they approve documents such as this one which I denounce on behalf of Venezuela as null, void and illegitimate. This document was approved violating the current laws of the United Nations. This document is invalid! This document should be discussed; the Venezuelan government will make it public. We cannot accept an open and shameless dictatorship in the United Nations. These matters should be discussed and that is why I petition my colleagues, heads of states and heads of governments, to discuss it.

            I just came from a meeting with President Néstor Kirchner and well, I was pulling this document out; this document was handed out five minutes before- and only in English- to our delegation. This document was approved by a dictatorial hammer which I am here denouncing as illegal, null, void and illegitimate.

            Hear this, Mr. President: if we accept this, we are indeed lost. Let us turn off the lights, close all doors and windows! That would be unbelievable: us accepting a dictatorship here in this hall.

            Now more than ever- we were saying- we need to retake ideas that were left on the road such as the proposal approved at this Assembly in 1974 regarding a New Economic International Order. Article 2 of that text confirms the right of states to nationalizing the property and natural resources that belonged to foreign investors. It also proposed to create cartels of raw material producers. In the Resolution 3021, May, 1974, the Assembly expressed its will to work with utmost urgency in the creation of a New Economic International Order based on- listen carefully, please- “the equity, sovereign equality, interdependence, common interest and cooperation among all states regardless of their economic and social systems, correcting the inequalities and repairing the injustices among developed and developing countries, thus assuring present and future generations, peace, justice and a social and economic development that grows at a sustainable rate.”

            The main goal of the New Economic International Order was to modify the old economic order conceived at Breton Woods.

            We the people now claim- this is the case of Venezuela- a new international economic order. But it is also urgent a new international political order. Let us not permit that a few countries try to reinterpret the principles of International Law in order to impose new doctrines such as “pre-emptive warfare.” Oh do they threaten us with that pre-emptive war! And what about the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine? We need to ask ourselves. Who is going to protect us? How are they going to protect us?

            I believe one of the countries that require protection is precisely the United States. That was shown painfully with the tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina; they do not have a government that protects them from the announced nature disasters, if we are going to talk about protecting each other; these are very dangerous concepts that shape imperialism, interventionism as they try to legalize the violation of the national sovereignty. The full respect towards the principles of International Law and the United Nations Charter must be, Mr. President, the keystone for international relations in today’s world and the base for the new order we are currently proposing.

            It is urgent to fight, in an efficient manner, international terrorism. Nonetheless, we must not use it as an excuse to launch unjustified military aggressions which violate international law. Such has been the doctrine following September 11. Only a true and close cooperation and the end of the double discourse that some countries of the North apply regarding terrorism, could end this terrible calamity.

            In just seven years of Bolivarian Revolution, the people of Venezuela can claim important social and economic advances.

            One million four hundred and six thousand Venezuelans learned to read and write. We are 25 million total. And the country will-in a few days- be declared illiteracy-free territory. And three million Venezuelans, who had always been excluded because of poverty, are now part of primary, secondary and higher studies.

            Seventeen million Venezuelans-almost 70% of the population- are receiving, and for the first time, universal healthcare, including the medicine, and in a few years, all Venezuelans will have free access to an excellent healthcare service. More than a million seven hundred tons of food are channelled to over 12 million people at subsidized prices, almost half the population. One million gets them completely free, as they are in a transition period. More than 700 thousand new jobs have been created, thus reducing unemployment by 9 points. All of this amid internal and external aggressions, including a coup d’etat and an oil industry shutdown organized by Washington. Regardless of the conspiracies, the lies spread by powerful media outlets, and the permanent threat of the empire and its allies, they even call for the assassination of a president. The only country where a person is able to call for the assassination of a head of state is the United States. Such was the case of a Reverend called Pat Robertson, very close to the White House: He called for my assassination and he is a free person. That is international terrorism!

            We will fight for Venezuela, for Latin American integration and the world. We reaffirm our infinite faith in humankind. We are thirsty for peace and justice in order to survive as species. Simón Bolívar, founding father of our country and guide of our revolution swore to never allow his hands to be idle or his soul to rest until he had broken the shackles which bound us to the empire. Now is the time to not allow our hands to be idle or our souls to rest until we save humanity.

Translated by Néstor Sánchez

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“A Miserable Performance” Mbeki Scolds UN Summit

Paula Fray, September 16, 2005, IPS/TerraViva*

The United Nations World Summit 2005, originally billed as a review of progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the world body in 2000, saw a discontented South African President Thabo Mbeki, who described poverty-fighting efforts towards those goals as "half-hearted, timid and tepid”. In his address to the General Assembly Thursday, Mbeki lamented the fact that the leaders of more than 170 nations had failed to make "decisive progress" on the "critical issue of the reform of the United Nations”.

            "The only saving grace with regard to this miserable performance," he said, is that the 59th General Assembly "reaffirmed our commitment to strengthen the United Nations with a view to enhancing its authority and efficiency, as well as its capacity to address effectively... the full range of challenges of our time”.

            Mbeki said the three-day summit, which ends Friday, had shown that "our approach to the challenge to commit and deploy the necessary resources for the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals has been half-hearted, timid and tepid”.

            South Africa is known to be disenchanted with the watered-down outcomes document. "It is disappointing in many ways," said South African ambassador to the United Nations Dumisani Khumalo after the day's negotiations on Tuesday.

            Eyes are now turning to the upcoming World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual general meeting and World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial talks in Hong Kong in December to deliver the impetus for fighting poverty which the summit has fallen short of delivering.

            Speaking at a press conference earlier, rock star-turned-anti-poverty campaigner Bob Geldof – who gave the summit a mark of 4 out of 10 – said a great leap forward must be implemented at the WTO trade talks in Hong Kong.

            Asked to "name and shame" the countries who were the "spoilers" in the outcomes document negotiations, Geldof reflected on "the pornography of poverty that parades across our screen each night”, saying it was not the responsibility of any one country.

            "The shame is ours; the name is the world."

            Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo described the outcomes as a "qualified success", saying some "expected a little bit more, particularly with the great leap forward we had at Gleneagles" – a reference to the G8 Summit of the most powerful countries held in Scotland in July.

            British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that among the milestones that need to be measured now are debt relief and trade negotiations. Pledging to make sure that the December WTO talks would be fruitful, Blair said they need to ensure "people understand that if we end up with failure in December, it will echo across the world”.

            In a statement issued Thursday, Kumi Naidoo chairman of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) also looked to the upcoming World Bank/IMF meetings.

            "With 191 countries endorsing the G8 debt deal at the United Nations this week, it is crucial that the World Bank/IMF hear their collective voice, stop quibbling and cancel the debts of the poorest countries," he said.

            "Delays in debt cancellation come at a high cost for the world's poorest countries and their people," said Naidoo. "Every dollar spent on crippling debt is a dollar not spent on food, education and fighting diseases".

            African Development Bank president Donald Kaberuka told IPS the summit had shown that there was commitment to the MDGs set out in 2000.

            "The problems of Africa cannot be solved on the same day. It is a process," said Kaberuka, the former Rwandan Finance Minister who took the helm of the African Development Bank this month.

            In a statement issued earlier this week, the World Bank announced that the executive directors have discussed the bank's "Africa Action Plan" to support African countries in their efforts to increase growth, tackle poverty and achieve the MDGs.

            "Success in this effort depends both on developed countries and developing countries stepping up to their responsibilities. It is a matter of performance for assistance," said Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank.

            On Wednesday, Leonor Magtolis Briones, representing Social Watch and acting on behalf of civil society groups at the summit, submitted a statement to the UN General Assembly calling on world leaders to live up to their promises.

            "The Millennium Development Goals will not be reached by 2015," said Briones.

            As a consequence of unfulfilled promises, "more than a billion people continue to live in absolute poverty. Girl children are not able to go to school, infant mortality rates remain high, mothers still die in childbirth, the HIV pandemic continues to escalate, the environment continues to be devastated, and global issues on trade, debt and official development assistance remain unresolved," said Briones.

            "This General Assembly is not the time for more promises. It is time to fulfil old and new promises. The poor of the world, especially the women and children, cannot wait until 2015."

            Mbeki said the summit had not made the necessary progress because it had not achieved "a security consensus".

            "It is the poor of the world whose interests are best served by real and genuine respect for the fundamental proposition that we need the security consensus identified by the Outcomes Document. The actions of the rich and powerful strongly suggest that they are not in the least convinced that this 'security consensus' would serve their interests," said Mbeki.

            "Thus they use their power to perpetuate the power imbalance in the ordering of global affairs. As a consequence of this, we have not made the progress of the reform of the UN that we should have. Because of that, we have the result that we have not achieved the required scale of resource transfer from those who have these resources, to empower the poor of the world to extricate themselves from their misery."

            Simply put, said Mbeki, "the logic in the use of power is the reinforcement of the might of the powerful and therefore the perpetuation of the disempowerment of the powerless.

            "This is the poisonous mixture that has given us the outcome that will issue from this Millennium Review Summit to the peoples of the world. We should not be surprised when these billions do not acclaim us as heroes and heroines," said Mbeki.

            In a briefing prior to the summit, the South African government expressed confidence that it would meet the MDGs by 2015, outlining a number of achievements already reached. The briefing noted that measures taken to eradicate poverty included social grants, an expanded public works programme and health initiatives.

            However, concern was expressed about the quality of the baseline data being used which was from before the advent of democracy.

            The Economic Commission for Africa report "The Millennium Development Goals in Africa: Progress and Challenges" notes that Africa fared the worst of the world's regions. "It saw the slowest progress overall and suffered reverses in crucial areas. In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people living in extreme poverty (on one dollar a day or less) rose from 217 million in 1990 to 290 million in 2000, the majority of whom are women."

            The report identifies South Africa as on track to halve poverty, achieve universal education, halt and reverse the incidence of tuberculosis and provide safe access to water.

            South African civil society's response to the government's review centred on the consultative process. In a summary produced by a range of NGO, union and community groups, the movement expressed concerns that the MDGs were the barest minimum for a development programme.

            Noting that civil society had been excluded from the drafting of the report, they called on the South African government to "establish a broad, truly consultative standing forum with civil society and labour to develop the MDGs further in our country, and to allow for the ongoing monitoring of our progress of the goals”.

*           This story was produced for the TerraViva Millennium Development Goals Journal.

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UN Millennium Summit: No Big Deal

United Nations, Sep 19 (Prensa Latina): Cuba's Foreign Affairs Minister Felipe Perez Roque asserted Monday there was no reason to celebrate results from the UN summit on Millennium Development Goals.

            "We arrive at the 60th UN anniversary with a situation where the organization's prestige and capacity have diminished," he stressed.

            During the interview given to Prensa Latina, the minister noted there were no longer development and peace rights for most peoples at the UN.

            Perez Roque reminded that nowadays arms expenditures are a trillion dollars annually, and the US spends half.

            The Cuban minister emphasized that "Cuba believes that respect of international rights of all peoples, independently of their size or power, and collaboration are the way to build a better world."

            The Cuban minister said that Cuba and Venezuela have the privilege to defend their ideas and reminded that Venezuela was not economically dependent on the US, on the contrary, the US depends on Venezuelan oil.

            Perez Roque stated that Venezuelan president's fiery speech before the UN reminded him of Fidel Castro's visit to that headquarters in 2000, 1995 and 1979.

            Fidel had warned in 1979 that hungry people could be killed with bombs and wars, but hunger could not and defended the eradication of developing countries' foreign debt.

            Cuba's Foreign Affairs minister highlighted that the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro have gained the world's respect with loyalty to principles and ethics.

            "And that is more powerful than arms. Ideas are more powerful than arms and that is what has happened here."

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