presented at the Millennium Development Goals Awards
Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City
Heads of State and Government, Your Excellencies, Friends,
World War I ended with a myopic vision that pressed crushing reparations upon Germany, causing poverty and resentment. Add to this the failure of global cooperation and governance evidenced by the incapacity of the League of Nations. The result was World War II.
But lessons were learned and that horrible war ended with vision and even generosity, leading to successes upon which today we must build. Out of the ashes of World War II the United Nations was born.
The United Nations gives us the promise of global cooperation and shared purposes. Wisdom and generosity brought us the practical successes of the Marshall Plan which turned what could have been long term disasters into stable, peace pursuing and very successful states.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) express the same values as the Marshall Plan, wisdom and generosity, and evidence the critical value of the UN to realize our most basic human values and our ability to pursue shared and good purposes. The MDGs in a sense are a cooperative global Marshall Plan.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called this moment the Age of Interdependence. Recently we have seen, even in the financial world, how Wall Street, Main Street, and for so many, No Street, are integrated into a system in which conduct on any level impacts all levels.
Technology, science and social organization have extended and accelerated our capacity to create as well as destroy.
The MDGs are a modest allocation of resources to create and must be compared to the $1.3 Trillion spent last year on military expenditures. How we expend resources is essentially a values statement.
A recent edition of Lancet, the distinguished medical journal, highlighted that for $5 Billion per year 6 million children could be saved using 23 proven interventions which are universally available. This constitutes less than 1/2 of 1% of military expenditures.
I ask each of us to think of the brilliant light of promise in the eyes of one child we know and to reflect on the unnecessary darkness of death that engulfs so many children left neglected in the midst of these gross disparities of expenditures.
The Secretary General has identified three interconnected issues requiring global cooperation:
Protecting the earth’s climate;
Eliminating nuclear weapons; and,
Meeting the MDGs.
He has described effectively addressing these critical matters as moral and practical imperatives.
They are practical imperatives because our survival depends upon success.
They are moral imperatives because our humanity depends upon success.
How can we call ourselves developed if we fail to address the suffering of half the human family unnecessarily living in impoverished conditions when the resources and skills needed to alleviate these conditions are readily available? Is this the kind of civilization worthy of our humanity?
We are gathered here to tonight to honor MDG successes, and the MDG Award Committee should be thanked for convening this event. For here we affirm our commitment and assert what we know can and must be done, ensure the fulfillment of the MDGs. Thank you.
Jonathan Granoff is the President of the Global Security Institute, a representative to United Nations of the World Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates, a former Adjunct Professor of International Law at Widener University School of Law, and Senior Advisor to the Committee on National Security American Bar Association International Law Section.