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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Millennium Development Goals: The September 2010 U.N. High-level Meeting

Luisa Blanchfield
Specialist in International Relations

Marian Leonardo Lawson
Analyst in Foreign Assistance

From September 20 to 22, 2010, heads of state and government will convene at United Nations (U.N.) Headquarters for a High-level Plenary Meeting to review progress towards the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs are a group of measurable development targets agreed to by 189 U.N. member states—including the United States—as part of the 2000 Millennium Declaration. The MDGs, which governments aim to achieve by 2015, include (1) eradicating extreme hunger and poverty; (2) achieving universal primary education; (3) promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment; (4) reducing the under-five child mortality rate; (5) reducing the maternal mortality rate; (6) combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases; (7) ensuring environmental sustainability; and (8) developing a Global Partnership for Development.

Since 2000, governments have worked to achieve the MDGs with mixed results. Experts generally agree that while some MDGs are on track to be met, the majority of Goals are unlikely to be achieved by 2015. Many have also found that progress toward the Goals is unevenly distributed across regions and countries. India and China, for example, have made considerable progress in achieving the MDGs, while many countries in Africa have failed to meet almost all of the Goals.

President Barack Obama supports the MDGs and is expected to attend the September High-level meeting. In July 2010, the Administration published The United States’ Strategy for Meeting the Millennium Development Goals, which identifies four “imperatives” for achieving the Goals— innovation, sustainability, measuring outcomes, and mutual accountability.

Members of the 111
th Congress may be interested in the MDGs and the September High-level meeting from three primary perspectives. First, Congress may wish to consider the MDGs in the context of authorizing and funding broader U.S. development assistance efforts. Second, Members may wish to be aware of any commitments made or opposed by the Obama Administration at the High-level meeting. Additionally, Congress may wish to conduct oversight on international progress towards the MDGs, including U.S. efforts and the future of the Goals.

While evidence of MDG effectiveness in advancing global development is uneven a decade after the Millennium Declaration, the international community—and many policymakers in the United States—continue to use the Goals as a paradigm for development assistance. This raises a number of overarching questions for Congress about the role and future of the MDGs, including:

• In what areas, if any, have the MDGs been successful?

• Are the MDGs practical?

• What is the role of U.S. foreign aid in the MDGs?

• Who is accountable for MDG progress?

Date of Report: September 10, 2010
Number of Pages: 19
Order Number: R41410
Price: $29.95

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