Sumario: 22 October 2009, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union by Ms. Fredrika Ornbrant, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations, at the Second Committee Debate on Item 57: Poverty eradication and other development issues, United Nations
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Armenia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, align themselves with this statement.
Eradicating poverty is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. Important progress has been made since world leaders decided to set targets to eradicate poverty. Under five mortality has declined steadily, the number of people living in extreme poverty has decreased and enrolment in primary education has increased. The advances made in fighting poverty are significant, but there is a risk of progress being halted, or even reversed.
The global economic recession, volatile food and energy prices and climate change, have weakened the prospects for social and economic development. There are signs of recovery, but they are tentative and do not apply to all regions and countries. The situation on the African continent gives reasons for particular concern. We must therefore stay focused on responding to the crisis and its impact on low-income countries. The children, women, and men who experience poverty are most exposed to the consequences of the global economic recession.
The European Union and its Member States are strongly committed to tackling poverty. Our primary and overarching objective is to eradicate poverty in the context of sustainable development and through coherent policies and actions. This includes a broad spectrum of policies and development activities, from democratic governance and equitable access to public services, to productive employment, sustainable management of natural resources, food security, health and education.
Too many people are still living in extreme poverty. In 2005 there were 1.4 billion people living on less than 1,25 USD a day. The Millennium Development Goal 1, on reducing the poverty rate by half to 2015, seems to be within reach. But current projections suggest that there will nevertheless be around 1 billion people living in extreme poverty in 2015.
To ensure a fair and sustainable recovery for all, the EU reaffirms its commitments to support devloping countries in meeting the MDGs and to achieve our respective Official Development Assistance targets. The commitment to an overall collective ODA target of providing 0.56 per cent of GNI by 2010, and 0.7 per cent of GNI by 2015, is firm. Of the increases, 50 per cent will be channeled to Africa.
The EU reiterates that each country must take primary responsibility for its own development and that the role of national policies and strategies for poverty reduction and development cannot be overemphasized if sustainable development and poverty eradication are to be achieved.
Women are key to the efforts to reduce poverty and to promote development. Today, women and children constitute almost 80 per cent of the world's poor. They play a critical role in the rural economies of developing countries, and for food production and food security. It is a global concern that the crisis aggravate already severe conditions for the poorest, particularly women, children and young people. Girls are the first to suffer when resources become scarce, and therefore often the first to be pulled out of schools.
The European Union welcomes the World Survey on the Role of Women in Development - women's control over economic resources and access to financial resources, including microfinance. The survey is very timely and will feed important findings into the discussion under the agenda item on women and development. One conclusion of the survey is that there is evidence that suggests that gender equality in women's access to and control over resources, not only contributes to women's well-being and empowerment, but also has a multiplier effects for a range of key development goals, including poverty reduction, social integration and economic growth.
The Commemoration of ICPD@15 on October 12, stressed the linkages between women's empowerment, population and development. In the countdown to 2015, the EU will accelerate action to guarantee universal access to reproductive health and ensure reproductive health commodity security. The EU will continue to work closely with UNFPA, governments, civil society and other partners to promote sexual and reproductive halth and rights, as well as women's empowerment and gender equality with the aim to achieve the goals set out at relevant international conferences, including the ICPD.
The European Union welcomes the Secretary General's report on Integrating a gender perspective into national development strategies, which focuses on progress made in integrating priorities and needs of women and girls in development policies and planning processes. The EU also looks forward to the gender discussion in ECOSOC, where gender will be the theme of AMR.
The European Union also strongly supports the establishment of a new gender entity within the UN system. This is a milestone in strengthening the UN's operational activities. The EU is ready to work with other Member States to finalize, through a swift process, the remaining details for the new entity.
Today, many children in the world have difficulties to access health care and education. Underdeveloped health care systems, as well as lack of skilled staff, are obvious obstacles to access health care and education of good quality. Seventy per cent of the children in the Least Developed Countries lack legal identity. Without documentary proof of the child's bare existence, the doors to health and education might remain closed.
The important links between living conditions and health have recently been analysed in depth by the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health. The commission notes, that the dramatic and growing disparities in health and life expectancy are closely linked to differences in how people live and work, and thus confirms what the ILO has underlined in it's agenda for decent work.
Women, who constitute half of the world population, own only ten per cent of the world's property and yet they produce as much as 80 per cent of the food in developing countries. Empowering women through access to assets and secure property and inheritance rights can lead to significant reduction in poverty and malnutrition and hence form the basis for sustainable economic and social development. Even when women do have legal property rights, their actual control over land may be weak and their access is often mediated through men. Women in many cases lack access to justice or administrative mechanisms to secure and defend their rights.
The EU welcomes the Secretary General's report on Legal Empowerment of the Poor and Eradication of Poverty. The linkages between empowerment and poverty eradication are clear. Individuals who cannot access state services or defend their rights through formal or informal justice find it much harder to move out of poverty. States must adhere to the rule of law and deliver on their duty to respect, protect and fulfill human rights. In many developing countries, informal systems are estimated to handle 80 % of cases. It's important that we recognise the role of non-state providers of justice. The UN system can play an important role in promoting a rights-based approach to addressing obstacles in this regard and to promote the sharing of national best practices.
The EU recognizes the importance of legal empowerment of poor women, men and children, as a necessary and effective process to strengthen the capability of individuals and groups, who experience poverty and exclusion. Legal empowerment of the poor can effectively break the vicious circle of poverty.
In connection to this, we would like to take the opportunity to thank the bureau of the Second Committee and the Secretariat for organizing the special event on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, which we found very useful and enlightening.
The EU would like to thank the Secretary General for his report on Human Resources Development. The report provides an overview of human resources development strategies, including progress and challenges in their implementation and lessons learned.
The ability to generate, absorb and apply new knowledge is an increasingly important factor for sustainable development, however, developing countries often lack the human and institutional resources to address those issues. The EU promotes investments that generate employment and that support human resource development.
On October 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2009 was celebrated all over the world. This year's theme was "Children and Families Speak Out Against Poverty". We heard stories about how to better protect children, how to give them the rights to participate in family, cultural and social life and how to give children the right to survival and full development. Strong voices were heard and it was obvious that to eradicate poverty, we need to listen to the children.
* Croatia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.