When it comes to the UN many find that it is easier to criticize than advocate. The UN is swiftly pushed aside as merely a naive idealist organization that is full of words and not action, that calls for grand ideas but not concrete specifics. Talk surrounding the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals is not much different.
These goals, set out and adopted in 2000, are a tall order for the world to meet. By 2015 all United Nations members have pledged to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDs, encourage environmental sustainability and strengthen global partnerships in development. On the grand scale progress has been made on each goal, but this progress is nowhere near fast enough and is not being made evenly throughout the world. When faced with continually bleak statistics about these global issues, such as the fact that 1/5th of the world still lives on less than $1 a day and that in some countries the situation has actually worsened, it is difficult to believe in the effectiveness of this UN initiative.
No one claimed that these goals would be easy to meet. The Millennium Development Goals are truly a tall order, but just because now, in 2010, not enough progress has been made to reach them by 2015, doesn’t mean that we should collectively turn our backs on them. It is all too easy to simply write off the goals as wishful thinking and pretty words which are never backed by real political will from UN member states. Placing all the blame on our governments allows us to wash our hands of the failure to reach the targeted MDG’s. It is much more difficult to admit that such global issues require global solutions, and not just from a handful of governments but from ordinary citizens who refuse to let these issues fall to the wayside.
Tufts prides itself on being a university “whose education and research has a global reach” and whose students are destined for global leadership. If that is truly to be a reality then it is up to individuals in our community to seek out opportunities to help further the MDGs. There are numerous organizations, including many student organizations on our campus, already tackling the issues of poverty, global health, environmental sustainability and woman’s rights. Some may influence only a few small locales, but a drop in the bucket is still a drop that wasn’t there before. Call me an idealist for believing that each of us can make a difference, but as long as even one person’s life was made a little better because of my minuscule contribution, then all my effort is worth it.
This post was written by Quinn Connors, a senior at Tufts University majoring in International Relations.