News / Africa

Transparency Needed at September UN Development Summit

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

The United Nations is preparing for a summit on progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to be held later this month.  The eight goals – relating to such things as poverty, hunger and health – are due to be reached by 2015.

Interim assessments say progress on the goals varies, with some further along than others.

The watchdog group Article 19 is calling for openness at the summit proceedings and this week issued what’s called the London Declaration for Transparency.

Lip Service

Executive Director Agnes Callamard, currently on a mission in Baku, Azerbaijan, says, “Article 19 and a number of other organizations realized several months ago that the issue of transparency and access to information had been completely sidelined from the discussion around the renewal and the next action plan of the Millennium Development Goals.”

The draft of the summit document gives only “lip service” to these issues, she says.

“We are about to embark on the next five-year plan for the MDGs and the central question and commitment to transparency and access to information have not been included.”

Seeing is believing

“The reason why it is central to the MDGs’ realization,” says Callamard, “is that transparency, access to information and indeed the ability of civil society and the media to operate are essential to good governance.”

Agnes Callamard, Executive Director, Article 19
Agnes Callamard, Executive Director, Article 19

She adds that studies of the MDGs indicate that lack of progress is often attributed to a lack of commitment and bad governance, among other problems.

The London Declaration states: “The environment and space for civic engagement and civil society organizations are increasingly restricted, preventing active participation and monitoring and weakening demands for accountability.”

“What we are saying is that in many countries around the world, there has been for the last…two years now a global trend whereby governments are using restrictive laws to curtail the ability of civil society either to establish themselves or to operate.  This trend has been recognized by a large number of organizations now and it was actually one of the key concerns of the U.S. State Department report for 2009.”

Often, in countries receiving donor funds to achieve the MDGs, the governments allow “insufficient freedom to allow civil society to report on how the money is being used,” says Callamard.

She adds that despite donor commitment to aid transparency, “we still have a long way to go for the financial flows from countries to countries…to be fully transparent and readable by the general public.”

The group takes its name from article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

The U.N. summit on the Millennium Development Goals will be held in New York from September 20th to the 22nd.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More