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Wolfowitz Calls for Action to End Global Poverty

World Bank's Wolfowitz Calls for Action to End Global Poverty

Summits alone are not enough, poverty also demands urgent action

By Merle D. Kellerhals, Jr.
Washington File Staff Writer

United Nations - World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz says that to reduce poverty developed nations must fulfill their promise of increased aid while developing nations improve their economic and trade performance.

"The responsibility for doing more and doing better cannot be left to the developing world alone. It demands more than high-profile summits. It demands urgent results," Wolfowitz said September 14 before the U.N. General Assembly.

President Bush nominated Wolfowitz, the former U.S. deputy secretary of defense, in March to lead the bank, which loans billions of dollars annually to eradicate poverty, hunger and disease. (For information on U.S. assistance, see U.S. Aid to Africa.)

Wolfowitz said that the United Nations established a set of goals five years ago in the General Assembly that called for dismantling trade barriers and ending subsidies that hurt farmers and small businesses.

"And it calls for strengthening the private sector and encouraging a vibrant civil society in developing countries," he said. "Rich and poor countries alike share a responsibility to fight corruption, and improve governance and accountability."

He said that the Millennium Development Goals created a metric of accountability for which humanity will hold the United Nations answerable, and it created a vital tool for measuring progress.

"But measurement alone will not bring results," he said.

He said, however, that many of the poorest countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, will not meet the targets on time, but the developed nations must develop realistic plans to get them on track.

Wolfowitz noted that the World Bank is developing an Africa Action Plan with 25 initiatives to improve education, roads and power, with measurable goals.

"We promised here five years ago to help bring hope, dignity and opportunity into the lives of the poorest. We promised to measure and achieve results," he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the backlog of deprivation remains.

"For the international community, it means supporting ... wide-ranging global reforms: more and better aid; trade policies that give a fair chance to developing countries; more investment in the world's poorest countries; and opening up institutions to allow the developing world to have a greater voice," he said to the General Assembly meeting on Financing for Development.

The General Assembly and the U.N. Economic and Social Council must play a stronger role in monitoring performance, offering advice and, as needed, issuing warnings, Annan said.

"What the world needs now is leadership that will see this summit's development decisions implemented fully and without delay," he said. "This is a matter of morality, security and enlightened self-interest."

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