In September 2000, representatives from 189 Member States of the United Nations met at United Nations headquarters in New York and adopted the Millennium Declaration, a series of collective priorities on peace and security, the eradication of poverty, the environment and human rights. Following this declaration, a set of eight goals, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were drawn up as the blueprint to achieve noticeable results by the target date of 2015.
The 8 MDGs include specific, measurable targets and timelines, for developing countries as well as for donor countries, civil society organizations and funding institutions such as the World Bank. All nations agreed to undertake specific follow-up measures to ensure that these goals were achieved in their own countries. One form of advocacy is for national NGOs to monitor their governments’ adherence to these measures.
The MDGs Set Priorities For Children
The MDGs are especially important for the well-being of children: they promote health; quality education; protection against abuse; exploitation and violence; and the fight against HIV/AIDS. More than a billion people are estimated to live below the poverty line, and the majority of those are children, who are suffering the most. A UNICEF-sponsored study by the University of Bristol and the London School of Economics concluded that:
- One in every three children in the developing world – over 500 million children – has no access whatsoever to sanitation facilities; one in five has no access to safe water.
- Over 140 million children in developing countries – 13% of whom are 7 to 18 years old – have never attended school. This rate is 32% among girls in sub-Saharan Africa, where 27% of boys also miss out on schooling, and 33% among rural children in the Middle East and North Africa.
- AIDS has killed one or both parents of an estimated 15 million children worldwide; 12 million of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of orphaned children is projected to exceed 25 million by the end of the decade. (UNAIDS, July 2004)
Each child is born with the right to survival, food and nutrition, health and shelter, an education, and to participation, equality and protection. These rights, among others, were agreed to in the 1989 international human rights treaty, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The MDGs must be met for these basic human rights to be realized.