Reflection on yet another millennium summit

In September all countries of the world send their heads of state, government leaders or ministers of foreign affairs head to New York where, like every year, the General Assembly of the United Nations is gathering –the diplomatic high mass par excellence.
This year a high level meeting will focus on the Millennium Development Goals that want to reduce poverty in the world with fifty percent by 2015. “We are halfway now”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says. “If we want to reach the goals by 2015, a serious effort is necessary.”
That is for sure. Concerning some goals, the world in general scores well –the income per capita or access to primary education – even though there are still regions lacking behind. For basic sanitary, however, we will miss the goal with 600 million people. Malnutrition in South-Asia and Africa is still gigantic. 
We are emitting more and more greenhouse gasses and deforestation continues. Almost everywhere the poorest are seeing how their part of the cake is being taken away. Read: internal inequality is increasing. Moreover, in these numbers the effect of the higher food prices are not yet taken into account. Many people belief that with this, an increase of the income of five years is being washed away, which immediately leads to the question of how the UN can realize these goals when they do not have any grip on the economy.
The rich countries have lowered their assistance since 2005. Their promise to do more, though, was one of the anchors of the Millennium Development Goals. One would become cynical from all this. In spite of all those formal summits with a whole lot of expensive oaths, the North did not fulfil its part of the deal.
Although there were exceptions: dreadful Bush did not do as bad after all. Our ex-prime minister Guy Verhofstadt must about bore the palm when it comes to the difference between word and deed – sorry, but that is the way it is.
Apparently the development countries were expecting already that the rich countries would not come up with more money, because in their development plans they are starting from the already existent flows of aid, and not from what is needed to achieve the goals. This is what the UN-Conference on Trade and Develoment (Unctad) is indicating in its latest report on the Least Developed Countries. Oh well, global governance. Welcome in the land of imperfect, real political and nontransparent compromises.
Compromises that are so far removed from the people that they are difficult to be enforced. MO* tries to bring the reality of global governance as close to you as possible, so that you can address our leaders on their promises. But whether it helps much? In our country, for the past fourteen months all this has actually been submerged by a communitarian battle. This government is hardly occupied with the role Belgium is playing in the world. Prime Minister Leterme regularly misses international meetings.

Global governance is facing a big challenge. For starters, there is the lack of democracy. When institutions want to keep their credibility, development countries need to get more power within them. This is happening to some extent in the International Monetary Fund and in the World Trade Organizations. In the Security Council however, this issue is not proceeding. And it has been like that for years already.
Besides that, there is also the weakness of a global policy regarding social and environmental issues, as the Millennium Development Goals illustrate. There are no means to enforce the agreements, like there are with regard to trade. Concerning social policy –human rights and development- I do not expect big steps towards a more powerful policy any time soon.  Environment stands a better chance. Especially concerning the climate policy I believe a global deal with binding goals for all of the big players is not impossible.
First of all because both the US and the EU are waving with trade sanctions when the Chinas and the Indias of this world do not get on board with a climate deal.  Second, because more and more people are realizing that we are all in the same boat-called-earth. We depend on each other. That actually goes as well for the poverty in the world: when things in Africa are bad, we start feeling that too. Leaders say that regularly, but they do not act accordingly.

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