U.N. Coordinator Fights for What’s Right
The United States allocates less than 1 percent of its budget for foreign aid.
U.S. Millennium Campaign Coordinator Carol Welch discussed the United Nation’s efforts to eradicate poverty and the participation required by the United States last week at UC Irvine.
During the event on Feb. 23, titled ‘Fighting for What’s Right,’ Welch lectured on the eight Millennium Goals set forth by the United Nations and critiqued the United States on battling poverty, in Social Science Plaza B.
The Millennium Goals were created in September 2000 when leaders of 189 countries agreed on what is known as the Millennium Declaration.
The idea was to create a set of ideal objectives that could be accomplished without too many hindrances.
‘One of the interesting things is that it is a compact between rich countries and poor countries,’ Welch said. ‘Poor countries have a role to play to fight corruption and use their own aid to get there.’
These eight goals include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, improving maternal health, achieving universal primary education, combating major diseases, promoting gender equality, developing a global partnership for development, reducing child mortality and ensuring environmental sustainability. However, Welch acknowledged that there were inherent flaws in the goals.
‘There are limitations coming up with eight goals like these,’ Welch said. ‘You have to make compromises. For example, if a country doesn’t complete the goals, no leader loses their job. However, that is where the Millennium Campaign comes in.’
This committee was created by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2002 to work with citizen groups globally. Welch coordinates committee efforts in the United States.
Welch emphasized that it was the citizens’ responsibility, especially in developed nation-states, to pressure their governments to accomplish these goals.
‘It’s a matter of leaders making this a priority and that can’t happen without the citizens making this a priority,’ Welch said.
Welch’s goal is to spread the word on eliminating poverty. According to Welch, the challenge is attempting to persuade American citizens who are stubborn in accepting the facts of poverty.
‘There is a lot of skepticism about our ability to get rid of poverty,’ Welch said.
A good percentage of citizens believe that poverty is an unsolvable mess, equating the homeless on American streets with those who live on a dollar salary in other regions of the world.
Nevertheless, Welch finds that there is hope.
‘500,000 people from the ‘One Campaign’ mailed President Bush,’ Welch said. ‘City councils have been creating legislation. As a result of the pressure, President Bush stated his full support of the Millennium Goals.’
Welch also commented on the role of college students in the fight for change.
‘Universities are one area we have seen tons of support, such as in Georgetown, where the president was interested and passed out Millennium Goal bookmarks to the freshman class,’ Welch said. ‘People have done fasts like the Oxfam Fast.’
Students can contribute to the cause by writing to their respective senators to push for more support to the Millennium Goals and increased foreign aid. Another way to help is to promote ‘Global Action Day,’ which occurs on Oct. 17, where the entire global community pushes forth the Millennium Goals.
Students can also visit the Millennium Campaign Web site at http://www.millenniumcampaign.org and receive biweekly newsletter and updates.
Welch wants students and all citizens to understand one pervading point, especially in a post-Sept. 11 world.
‘It’s a small world, and we need to make our world known to all,’ Welch said.
UC Irvine’s Americans for Informed Democracy Campus Coordinator Linda Lee, a fourth-year international studies and political science major, was very satisfied with the event.
‘I hope she continues to guide the United States on a steady path to realizing our commitments on alleviating poverty,’ Lee said. ‘I hope that future events like this town hall meeting will inspire students, faculty and community members to come together to question the status quo and find out how they can play a more active role on an international stage.’