Students attend world poverty conference

Samantha Jung

“2015. No Excuse.” That is the slogan of the Millennium Campaign, a global movement sponsored by the United Nations to address the problems of extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS around the world.

In the U.S, a diverse group of organizations, including Oxfam, Bread for the World and Save the Children have joined forces in support of the Millennium Campaign. Together, they created the ONE Campaign, a revolutionary movement that has already attracted over one million Americans, as well as celebrities like Bono and Brad Pitt, to join its global mission.

The founders of ONE aren’t asking for charity; they are asking for voices. Recently, a group of Villanova students attended a conference at New York University to lend their voices to the fight against global poverty. More than 200 students from universities nationwide engaged in workshops to become proactive leaders in the global fight, while foreign students gathered to share the plights of their countries and educate others on the real magnitude of poverty. Speakers addressed issues from disease to economics to poverty’s impact on the global community.

According to panelists Sam Gejdenson, Abderrahim Foukara and Suzanne DiMaggio, who led discussion at the Sept. 10 Youth Global Leaders Conference, helping countries to eradicate poverty means building alliances to boost the world economy.

The conference, held just four days before the 2005 United Nations World Summit, emphasized the importance of U.S. cooperation to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs. The MDGs are a set of eight goals conceived in 2000 by the 191 nations of the UN to be fulfilled in 2015. The goals reflect simple elements of people in affluent countries know, yet they are still distant dreams to the world’s underdeveloped nations. Under the Millennium Declaration, the UN vows to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, to achieve universal primary education, to promote gender equality and empower women, to reduce child mortality, to improve maternal health, to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and other diseases, to ensure environmental sustainability and to ultimately build a global partnership for development.

The UN designed the MDGs to attack poverty at its core – to educate countries on how to build and maintain a stable government, treat and prevent the spread of disease and become an economically important part of the global community. Advocates of the MDGs support fair and open trade to promote world unity but struggle in the face of politics.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan admits flaw in this regard indicating that “[The UN] has the means and the capacity to deal with our problems, if only we can find the political will.” The UN has the resources; the world has a voice.

With the help of all nations, the world can fulfill the obligations outlined in the Millennium Declaration by the year 2015. No excuse. In the words of so many Americans who have signed the ONE Declaration in support of the MDGs, “We can start to make poverty history. One by one by one….”

Please continue to read our articles over the upcoming eight-week period as we discuss the significance of each Millennium Development Goal.