What did your government promise the poorest in 2000, 2005, 2013 and 2015?
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Millennium Declaration Report
"Let us resolve...To halve, by the time this century is 15 years
old, the proportion of the worlds people (currently 22 per
cent) whose income is less than one dollar a day"
UN Secretary-General, Millennium Report 2000
"The world has reduced extreme poverty by half...in developing regions....to 22 per cent by 2010"
United Nations MDG Report 2014
The last person to speak at the Millennium Summit was the Co-Chairperson Sam Nujoma, President of Namibia.
"I...call upon [the new President of the General Assembly, Harri Holkeri] to ensure the implementation of the Millennium Declaration and pay particular attention to paragraph 31."
"We request the General Assembly to review on a regular basis the progress made in implementing the provisions of this Declaration, and ask the Secretary-General to issue periodic reports..."
The Assembly, member states and Secretaries-General have not done
First, the Declaration contains passages about, for example, human rights and good government.
Second, the UN has reported on Millennium Development Goal targets, some
of which, having 1990 baselines, are easier than the leaders' pledges.
On 6 November 2001 civil servants proposed to UN country teams that they begin using 1990 baselines, with no authority from the Assembly.
The official MDG list, reproduced by the World Bank, the UK Government, and many other sources, falsely states that its targets are from the Millennium Declaration. The Food and Agriculture Organisation's statistics pages falsely state the Declaration has a 1990 baseline.
The MDG 2015 Report mentions "Millennium Declaration" once. It gives no details of the time-bound commitments in the Declaration. It does not report on progress towards them except in some cases where they are the same as the MDG targets. The MDG report gives no details of how to find the Declaration text.
The present series of reports aims to fill some of the gaps and explain the failure of accountability.
pleased that the Declaration...has such a broad range of commitments,
and the specificity of the language and the time scales mean that
we can and will be held accountable for delivery."
Bertie Ahern, Prime Minister of Ireland
6 September 2000
Report on a
selection of commitments in the
1996 World Food Summit Declaration and
If governments or intergovernmental organisations mislead
on the pledges, does that violate the human
rights of the poor? The rich?
sources still give a wrong impression that the Declaration baseline is 1990 or
that the easier MDG targets were agreed in 2000, some after complaints:
Millennium pledge: Safe and affordable water
"We resolve...by the year 2015...to halve the proportion of people
who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water."
Progress rating: Unknown from official statistics.
Accountability/transparency rating: Poor. Official headline progress reports are misleading on water quality, Declaration baseline and MDG baseline. Leaders did not make a pledge with a "1990" baseline. The MDG target as agreed, according to the OECD Secretariat in 2001, does not have a "1990" baseline.
"While target 7.C explicitly refers to access to safe drinking water, the indicator does not measure quality directly, and the assumption that improved sources are more likely to provide safe water than unimproved sources is misleading."
Human Rights and MDGs in Practice:
A review of country strategies and reporting
"The JMP [official monitors] also tempered any celebrations with a warning that the data collected only measured access to improved water sources those that adequately protect the source from outside contamination rather than assessed the quality, or reliability of the water supply, or whether water sources were sustainable.
Testing the quality of the water at a national
level in all countries was too expensive and logistically difficult, said the
report. "As a result, it is likely that the number of people using safe
water supplies has been overestimated."
Millennium development goal on safe drinking water reaches target early
6 March 2012
The Millennium water pledge had already reduced the ambition:
fell far short of the goal set in 1990 to reach universal access to safe water
by 2000. Not only was the goalpost moved to 2015, the new MDG target was
lowered from universal coverage to halving the proportion of people without
access to safe water. Thus, the new target is nearly five times less ambitious
than the initial one."
The official statistics on "improved sources" are not a good indication of safety or affordability as the Millennium Declaration required.
MDG water subtarget: MDG architect stated it had baseline of 2000, not 1990
official list of MDG targets published in 2001, 2003 and 2008, the
drinking-water subtarget does not have a
Other targets on the proportion of people have baselines of 1990.
I am unaware of any commentator having pointed this out.
seems to be that its baseline was agreed as 2000.
A September 2001 document by the richer countries' organisation, the OECD, was prepared for its Development Assistance Committee. This is the committee which asked UN agencies in March 2001 to merge the Millennium pledges with the 1990-baseline International Development Goals.
The September 2001 document was written after the OECD took a leading role in deciding the targets. It was produced a week after the Secretary-General had produced his Road Map containing the proposed list of goals, targets and indicators. The OECD document states that the MDG target on drinking water has a baseline of 2000.
Staff from the Secretariats of the UN (Secretary Generals Office and UNDG), IMF, OECD-DAC, and the World Bank met in New York on 21 June 2001 to discuss aligning the goals [ie the 1990-baseline IDGs and 2000-baseline Declaration]. In subsequent correspondence they reached agreement on a presentation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)...
It was agreed that there should be a standard baseline year of 1990 against which to measure progress (with an exception of using 2000 for the safe water goal as that was agreed in a recent UN conference).
Page 4. It is a .pdf document which may need the extension .pdf to be added.
It is also at:
It is puzzling that Jan Vandemoortele and Mark Malloch-Brown, who have each stated they are or been described as co-authors of the MDG framework, have not mentioned this in their accounts, and nor has Michael Doyle, the co-chair with Dr Vandemoortele of the inter-agency group setting the MDG targets. Several participants Eric Swanson at the World Bank, Brian Hammond at the OECD who was the contact given for the Secretariat's note stating that the baseline was 2000, Michael Doyle and Jan Vandemoortele have contributed to accounts by others, sometimes by interview. I am unaware of any participant or organisation having given the reason for the absence of the 1990 baseline in the official MDG list, apart from the OECD document of September 2001.
On 29 March
2001 the chairman of the relevant OECD committee had written to heads of UN
agencies. The text is in the document above. He proposed:
"agreement on the alignment of the international and millennium development goals and the timing and role of BWA in regular reporting to the General Assembly on development progress."
BWA - "Better world for all" - was the four civil servants' agreement containing the International Development Goals, with a 1990 baseline.
The following sentence may be worth rereading and some thought. The OECD Secretariat stated in the document of September 2001,
"It was agreed that there should be a standard baseline year of 1990 against which to measure progress (with an exception of using 2000 for the safe water goal as that was agreed in a recent UN conference).
Can you think of any UN conferences which were "recent" in 2001?
Did any of them resolve to achieve mortality reductions from "current rates"?
Were any of them preceded by the Deputy Secretary-General stating that the fact that leaders were making the commitments made a "big difference"?
Did any government reject the
Secretary-General's recommendations to the Millennium Summit that they resolve
to halve the proportion without safe water "between now and 2015"?
Did any government reject his urging halving the proportion of people on under a dollar a day from "currently 22 per cent"?
Did Reuters, the New York Times, the Economist and the Guardian not report 2000 baselines for the Millennium Declaration?
Does the OECD/IMF/World Bank/UN staff argument for restricting the 2000 baseline to the water target make sense?
UN statements on water safety:
"this week a joint UNICEF/WHO report announced that the world has met the MDG target of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe [!] drinking water."
remarks at press conference on Millennium Development Goals
Secretary General's Off-the-Cuff Remarks
New York, 8 March 2012
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) the framework that has been a key part of
efforts to build a better world for the past 15 years [!]
challenged the global community to reduce by half the proportion of the population without safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Throughout this
period, the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) has monitored progress.
As the MDG era comes to a close, this report shows how far we have come. For example, in a major global achievement, the target for safe [!] drinking water was met in 2010, well ahead of the MDG deadline of 2015. ..."
Deputy UN Secretary-General
Progress on sanitation and drinking water 2015 update and MDG assessment
and World Health Organisation
BBC, March 2012:
Unanswered complaint 6 February 2014 to BBC Editorial Complaints Unit
Invited comments on provisional response 1300394
"More or Less of 10 March 2012...Unidentified speaker, apparently a
World Service newsreader or a person reading from a World Service news
The United Nations says the first Millennium Development
Goal, halving the number of people who have no access to clean water,
has been reached before the target date of 2015.
[More or Less commenting on the misleading news report:]
...the Millennium Development Goals were agreed by
all the countries of the United Nations and the big aid agencies in
the year 2000."
More or Less makes a major error. The MDG targets agreed by
consensus in 2002 are in fact easier than the pledges in the
Millennium Declaration of 2000. The latter is a UN General
Assembly resolution. A major difference is that the resolution's
pledges were not backdated, and are therefore to, for example halve
the proportion of people in 2000 on under "$1 ", not the 1990 level.".