Millenium Development Goals Awards Ceremony at the United Nations


GSI President Jonathan Granoff


On March 17, 2009, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Dr. Kevin Cahill, a world reknown physician and humanitarian, received lifetime achievement awards at the Millennium Development Golas (MDGs) Awards Ceremony at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations. GSI President Jonathan Granoff co hosted and was privileged to give a presentation on the MDGs.

» Click here for the full text of Mr. Granoff’s speech
» Click here for a report of the event
» Click here for more resources

The Millennium Development Goals: Real Family Values

Jonathan Granoff, President,
Global Security Institute,
delivered at the Millennium Development Goals Awards Ceremony

General Assembly, United Nations
March 17, 2009


The human family is one.

Like any family it needs a home, a place to come together.

The UN aspires to be that home.

That is why it is such an honor to be at the General Assembly tonight. Here one can say we and really mean everyone –everyone, all of us, without boundaries of race, religion, nation, or gender.

This is a place for real family values and policies that serve this one varied, fascinating and funny human family.

In our family tonight there are mothers who must choose which of their children will have enough calories to be alive tomorrow and which might not. Our aunts, our sisters, our mothers should not be in this plight.

We hear so much about Wall Street’s needs and the crisis on Main Street. But for nearly half the human family, their crisis relates to no street. For them, crushing poverty is a dead end.

Saadi, the Persian poet of the 13th Century sang:


The human family is one body with many parts

Creations arising from one unseen essence

Any harm to any part summons an awakening

A dis-ease and a healing response from all parts

Without feeling the suffering of others how can we call ourselves truly human?


Mahatma Gandhi said that to make good political policies one need only place before oneself the image of the poorest person and decide whether the policy will or will not help that person. Jesus said that what we do to the hungry and the least amongst us we do to him.

If we do not respond to the fact that nearly a third of humanity is without safe clean water, that half of our family is living on less than $2 per day, that thousands of children die each day from preventable diseases and starvation, and that the failure to protect the environment hits these innocent victims the hardest we are contributing to a gross injustice of enormous proportions. From such injustice only the whirlwind of chaos will be reaped.


The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) do address this crisis in our humanity. They are a landmark of compassion and justice in action. For the first time in human history all the nations of the world have committed to a set of interconnected goals:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

  • Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day.
  • Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.
  • Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

2. Achieve universal primary education

  • Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

3. Promote gender equality and empower women

  • Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015.

4. Reduce child mortality

  • Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.

5. Improve maternal health

  • Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio.
  • Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health.

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

  • Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.
  • Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it.
  • Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.

7. Ensure environmental sustainability

  • Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources.
  • Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss.
  • Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
  • By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers.

8. Develop a global partnership for development

  • Develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory. Includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction—nationally and internationally.
  • Address the special needs of the least developed countries. This includes tariff and quota free access for their exports; enhanced programme of debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries; and cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous official development assistance for countries committed to poverty reduction.
  • Address the special needs of landlocked and small island developing States.
  • Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term.
  • In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries.
  • In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications.

Fulfilling these commitments is far less expensive than war. The funds are there to accomplish this. It is for us to generate the political will. Each year about $1.3 Trillion dollars goes into military coffers. The best estimates are that a ten year commitment of around $76 billion per year, less than 7% of military expenditures, would lead to the MDG’s fulfillment.

If the method of war and militarism led to real human security I would say, terrific, spend away, but it does not. In fact, with respect to one weapons system, the more it is perfected the less security is obtained. That is why I believe in the abolition of nuclear weapons.

But there is another reason. Bridges of cooperation are needed to conquer poverty, protect the oceans, the climate and the rains forests. To address AIDS and other virus that do not carry passports, we need unity of purpose and practice. In the same way as apartheid in South Africa was a wall to human unity that Reverend Tutu helped tear down, in the same way as the Berlin Wall was a wall that divided the world, nuclear apartheid is a wall and its time to come down is now.

Whether the wall is racism, nuclear apartheid, or poverty, it is time we came together. It is time we separated from ourselves that which separates us from one another.

The MDGs are more than just the pursuit of human security. They help tell us who we are.

Our grand parents did not have two icons we take for granted. One, the mushroom cloud tells us about the abuse of science and technology and the end result of human arrogance, death to all we hold dear. The other, the image of planet earth from outer space reminds us of how wondrous, majestic, precious and miraculous every life actually is. It sits in infinite space, a home where we can learn the secret of life, to love and care for one another.

The Millennium Development Goals show us a way to express and learn that secret. Let us be the one’s who stand up and honor the family that lives in our one home, planet earth.

Thank you for your commitments. Thank you.

The MDG Awards Ceremony

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

The award ceremony was organized by the MDG Awards Committee in association with Humanitad.

Highlight of the Humanitad produced event was the presentation of a Lifetime of Humanitarian Achievement Award to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who serenaded the audience with his rendition of ‘Sentimental Journey‘ after bitterly criticizing governments who spend billions on buying arms, when so many of their own people live in squalor. He also accused the world’s powers of misplaced priorities in the so-called war against terror, fighting the symptoms when the root causes should rather be addressed. “We will never win a war against terror as long as there are conditions in the world that make people desperate,” said Tutu. That desperation, in many cases, is what drives people to engage in violent conflicts, he added.

Dr. Kevin M. Cahill was presented with a Lifetime of Humanitarian Achievement Award for his


Dr. Kevin M. Cahill

life-long dedication of extraordinary service. Dr. Kevin Cahill, is a leading specialist in tropical medicine who worked in the streets of India with Mother Teresa. For more than 45 years he has been a driving force in humanitarianism assistance and relief efforts around the world.

With President of the 63rd UN General Assembly H.E. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann presiding the hall was filled with government officials from over 100 nations, international luminaries, renowned artists, astute members of society and celebrated figures. Head of the UN Office for Global Partnerships Mr. Amir Dossal called MDG Awards Executive Director Michael Jacobson and Humanitad Founder and Executive Producer Sacha Stone to the General Assembly stage in recognition for their accomplishment in staging the ground-breaking event. He also recognized the tireless efforts of the GA event Producer & Director Chris Wangro and his team.

Actor, anti-land-mine Activist and Humanitad Ambassador Armand Assante opened the ceremony at the United Nations General Assembly Hall remarking “I am pleased to be among some of the most extraordinary humanitarian minds in the world. Many have to negotiate through hatred to get things done, these men negotiate through peace.”


Armand Assante

MDG Awards Committee co-Chair H.E. Ambassador Francis Lorenzo of the Dominican Republic stated that to achieve the MDGs, we need to develop a global partnership for development with the full commitment and cooperation of governments, business, non-governmental organizations, academia, community groups individuals and United Nations entities.

Secretary-General of the World Federation of United Nations Associations Pera Wells thanked Humanitad as did evening co host President of the Global Security Institute Jonathan Granoff whose rousing speech summed up the MDG messaging by stating: “Fulfilling these commitments is far less expensive than war. The funds are there to accomplish this. It is for us to generate the political will. Each year about $1.3 Trillion dollars goes into military coffers. The best estimates are that a ten year commitment of around $76 billion per year, less than 7% of military expenditures, would lead to the MDG’s fulfillment“.

Macy Gray rocked the full house with her message of love, getting everyone moving to her hit “Say Good-Bye,” a perfect Millennium message for us all: “my world crumbles if you are not here.” Sol Guy, the co-founder of DCM, and host of MTV’s 4REAL teased the audience to let loose and not give “diplomatic claps” when applauding.

Former child-soldier turned rapper K’naan – deftly climbing the billboard charts – belted out his memories of growing up in war torn Somalia. Njakatina – the heart throb singer from Madagascar melted the hearts of the audience whilst Mick Hucknall from Simply Red sang “Come to My Aid” in a cappella .

The MDG Awards house-band was made up of multi-instrumentalist and musical director for Paul Simon; Mark Stewart; Steve Jordan on drums, and seven times Grammy Award winner David Paich from TOTO on keyboard. Music Direction was expertly overseen by drummer. Percussionist, music director and producer Robin DiMaggio. The show also featured Keaton Simmons on guitar, and other award winning artists.

Sol Guy said, “We have a collective chance to make a radical change.” It was a treat to see the Junior Fountain Gospel Choir perform amongst great world artists.


Macy Gray


MDG Awards founding Goodwill Ambassador Scarlett Johansson adds: “As a Goodwill Ambassador for the Millennium Development Goal Awards, I intend to use my status as a public figure to bring attention to our intention and cause – necessary to make the world sustainable for all human kind”, and international chart-topping hip-hop sensation Akon states: “The MDG Awards are tremendously important as they shed light on those whose humanity leads a path against the inhumanity we see each day, and whose valiant efforts will one day change the world.”

The awards program – positioning itself as an annual “Oscars of world nations” will recognize individuals, organizations and nations most impacting the MDGs as established in 2000 by the United Nations. The eight goals are to be achieved by 2015 in response to the world’s primary development challenges. The speeches and songs reinforced the qualities and commitments we must all bring to bear to meet these challenges. The organizers and now the inspired participants will continue to spread the message that the commitments of the nations of the world set forth in the MDGs must be fulfilled.

The planetary Millennium Development Goals conversation has begun.


More resources:

» Click here for a full video of the ceremony
» Click here for a video of Mr. Granoff’s presentation
» Click here for a photo gallery of the Ceremony
» Click here for a photo gallery of the Luncheon
» Click here for the full text of Mr. Granoff’s speech

From the press:

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list and receive regular updates, insights, and expert opinions from leaders in nuclear disarmament and world peace.

Unlock the power of positive change with the Global Security Institute. We conduct groundbreaking research, engage in impactful advocacy, and collaborate with leaders across the globe, from heads of state to the public. Your generous support is the key to our success in creating a safer world. Donate today and be a catalyst for global security.

Most Popular