The True Meaning of United Nations

On UN Day, the international community looks inward, celebrating the anniversary of when the United Nations Charter first took effect in 1945. Indeed it is a chance to reflect upon what the charter represents in terms of promoting social and economic progress, fundamental human rights and tolerance, and peace and security throughout the world. Yet more and more, the UN appears to be focusing outward as it tackles the world's most pressing development issues.

The UN is increasingly emphasizing partnerships to spur progress for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and establish the post-2015 development agenda. It is stressing the urgency of member states to team up with businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and citizens in inclusive efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and facilitate sustainable development.

Ending Extreme Poverty by 2030 In September, shortly after al-Shabaab terrorists attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim addressed the Social Good Summit in New York. After reflecting on the victims of this tragic incident, Dr. Kim discussed the underlying cause of the attack, since al-Shabaab is linked to al-Qaeda but hails from Somalia.

"This was not about Kenya; it was about Somalia," Dr. Kim said. "Somalia is a country where 43 percent of the people live in extreme poverty." Dr. Kim echoed the words of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has said that in every country he has visited, development is critical for creating and sustaining peace. Therefore, unless the international community works to alleviate the stunningly high rate of extreme poverty in Somalia, as Dr. Kim assessed, "the prospects for peace simply won't be very good."

Due to UN-led efforts, extreme poverty was halved between 1990 and 2010--five years ahead of the MDG target. Yet while the percentage of people subsisting on less than $1.25 per day is now below 20 percent, there are still 1.2 billion people mired in extreme poverty globally. Moreover, as Dr. Kim maintained, the greatest difficulty will be in the next phases of eradication.

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