Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Millennium Declaration: Taking A Step Beyond the MDGs

Tom McDermott, our speaker at our Offering of Letters workshop (St. Bede's Episcopal Church in Santa Fe) on March 29, gave us valuable background and insights about The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs go hand in hand with the Global Poverty Act , which Bread for the World is promoting as part of its 2008 Offering of Letters campaign. Specifically, we are asking Congress to increase poverty-focused development assistance by $5 billion.

The MDGs are a very viable blueprint in our efforts to reduce global poverty, said Mr. McDermott, who once served as bureau chief for the United Nations in the Middle East and North Africa.

But he noted that the MDGs are only one element of the overall Millennium Declaration, a comprehensive document that goes beyond the MDGs. For example, the declaration deals with such issues as human rights and disarmament and expands greatly on each of the eight goals. Here is a very powerful excerpt, which deals with Goal Number 1:
We will spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected. We are committed to making the right to development a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire human race from want.
Consider this other statement in the declaration that addresses Goal Number 8:
We believe that the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world’s people. For while globalization offers great opportunities, at present its benefits are very unevenly shared, while its costs are unevenly distributed. We recognize that developing countries and countries with economies in transition face special difficulties in responding to this central challenge. Thus, only through broad and sustained efforts to create a shared future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity, can globalization be made fully inclusive and equitable.
Finally, these words from two separate sections of the declaration make a strong statement:
We will spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for all internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development.

We will spare no effort to free our peoples from the scourge of war, whether within or between States, which has claimed more than 5 million lives in the past decade. We will also seek to eliminate the dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction.
It was really great to learn about the full declaration as a backdrop to our work in promoting the MDGs.

Another plus of the workshop is that we were able to make a connection with two volunteers from another partner organization in The ONE Campaign, Heifer International. Kathy Trickey and Jennifer Johnson decided to attend our local workshop after learning about Bread for the World at a national forum sponsored by Heifer International.

Representatives of three churches in the Third Congressional District also attended the workshop, St. Bede's Episcopal Church and First Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe and Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Los Alamos.

Here are some pictures:

Heidi Ernst Jones and Lydia Pendley, St. Bede's Episcopal Church

Jennifer Johnson (Heifer International), Dave Fry (Bethlehem Lutheran Church-Los Alamos) and Tom McDermott.

Robin Stephenson, Bread for the World field organizer western region

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