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Civil Society demands 'better aid' on International Day for Eradication of Poverty


Nearly 20 years have passed since the United Nations General Assembly declared October 17 as International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. That more progress has not already been made on this issue is a sad reflection of the gap between rhetoric and practice in the international community's commitment to making poverty a thing of the past. Civil society’s determination to build a better future for poor communities remains as resolute as ever, though, and a new campaign is being launched to improve the quality and quantity of aid delivered to developing countries.

Over the past two decades the use of the human rights framework, to address poverty as both cause and effect of systemic violations of people's fundamental rights and dignity, has become a critical facet of the anti-poverty agenda. Challenging the inevitability and quasi-natural character of such deprivation has galvanized social movements and pushed the international community to adopt global political commitments and recognize - albeit timidly - the responsibilities of states and international actors in delivering effective and timely responses to poverty within and across countries.

Many less developed countries still depend heavily on aid to guarantee the basic economic and social rights of their population. Providing international cooperation and assistance to such countries is a human rights obligation, yet many wealthy states have yet to meet the modest aid targets they committed themselves to decades ago. As well as providing better aid - aid that respects human rights principles such as non-discrimination, accountability and participation - richer states must also ensure that their policies in areas such as trade, debt and financial regulation do not hamper the efforts of poorer countries to realize economic and social rights. 

In a time when financial crisis is combining with food emergencies and climate change to exacerbate poverty in many areas, it is crucial that every dollar of international aid is put to the best possible use. With the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals just four years away, it has become clear that even the target of halving extreme poverty is unlikely to be met in some regions.

With these facts in mind, the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, of which CESR is a member, has joined forces with BetterAid and the Open Forum for CSO Effectiveness to launch a new initiative entitled “Better Aid for the World We Want”. The campaign aims to pressure governments to redouble their efforts and make sure aid reaches the people who need it most. Organizers have also organized a petition with the objective of pressuring political leaders who will come together for the High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in South Korea in November.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect ths position of CESR. Photo by Kibae Park, (c) UN Photo.