15 October 2006

At an event organized by the Department of Public Information, a large group of diplomats, U.N. staff, and volunteers assembled on Monday, 16 October, at the North Garden to make a pledge to stand up against poverty. Led by Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch-Brown, everyone crouched down then stood up together as they read aloud a worldwide pledge:

We stand here proudly as members of the generation that intends to defeat extreme poverty.

We cannot stay seated when a child born in a poor country today will die 30 years earlier than a child born in a wealthy one when tens of thousands of people die unnecessarily every day.

And we stand up because we are asking not for charity, but justice. We know that in our names, world leaders have made mighty promises to bring an end to extreme poverty by achieving the Millennium Development Goals. What is needed is the political will to achieve and exceed these goals. So we are on our feet to say:

To the leaders of the wealthy countries: Be great. Fight to keep your promises - debt cancellation, more and better aid, and trade rules that help fight poverty. You know what needs to be done. Do it.

We also stand before the leaders of poorer countries to say: Be great. Make it your first responsibility to save the lives of your poorest citizens. We ask you to achieve real transparency and accountability in how money is spent, to tackle inequality, to root out corruption. You know what needs to be done. Do it.

Here at the United Nations, we also need to be great. Since 2000, the Millenium Declaration and the development goals contained within, have aided our work. We pledge to step up our efforts to build support for the MDGs, and to bring the campaign to end poverty to the heart of our work. We know what needs to be done. Let's do it.

We wish to set a record today for the number of people standing up to demand action on poverty - but the record we really want to break is the world's record of breaking promises and just ignoring the poor. We don't want record numbers of people dying of poverty every year for the rest of our lives.

We are six billion voices. We want to end poverty in our lifetime.