Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has expressed “anger” at the failure of rich nations to honour pledges to combat global poverty.
The United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals were set out in 2000 with the aim of being reached by 2015. Mr Brown is particularly concerned by the lack of progress in ensuring every child has access to primary education. Speaking in New York, Mr Brown said he wanted to “press, inspire and push” people to see the virtues of education. Ensuring education for all was an issue of “security, anti-poverty and health”, he added.
“I’m angry because we made commitments that we would meet these Millennium Development Goals,” he told the BBC at a meeting to review progress towards them. “I think rich countries have not done enough to honour the promises that we made.”
He added that it was “too easy sometimes for the governments to say something else has come up, some other thing has changed our view”. Mr Brown, who was UK chancellor at the time the pledges were made, said the governments of wealthy nations needed to face continuing public pressure to ensure they stuck to their pledges.
Turning his attention to poorer nations, he said their governments “have to put resources into education and not into corruption, to put resources into health and not to waste them on prestige projects”. Mr Brown’s comments came after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the Millennium Development Goals could still be met if enough work was done. Mr Ban urged world leaders meeting in New York to stick to the task despite the global downturn, insisting they could be achieved by 2015. However, the UN itself concedes that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to meet some of the targets. More than 140 leaders are meeting to review progress, among them UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is flying to New York having addressed the Lib Dem party conference on Monday.
It will be his first appearance representing the UK at a major international gathering since his party formed a coalition government with the Conservative Party in May – BBC