31 January 2002
to Tell Global Elite Not to Ignore Poverty
Nations, Jan 30 - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
will tell political and business leaders at the World
Economic Forum that they ignore extreme poverty at
their peril, a senior UN official said Wednesday.
official said Annan had decided to attend the forum's
annual meeting in New York, rather than the anti-globalization World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, because the rich
more than the poor needed to hear his message.
rival meetings run from Thursday to Monday. Annan,
on a private visit to The Netherlands this weekend,
agreed to speak on the final day of the New York meeting after talking to forum President Klaus Schwab. "This is the
audience he needs to reach," the UN official
said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It
is more important and useful for him to address these
fat cats than for him to go to Porto
Alegre, where he would find many friends."
why Annan could not address both meetings by video
link, he said there had been "misunderstandings"
when other senior United Nations officials did that
at last year's forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
link was set up with Porto
Alegre, "but the Davos people rather ran away from the idea," creating
the impression that the UN spoke in the forum's name,
not part of the UN's job to defend the rich against
the poor, if anything it's the reverse," the
1999 at Davos, Annan launched an initiative called
the Social Compact, defining ways in which transnational
companies could improve their record on human rights,
workers' conditions and environmental protection.
since 1999 have proved the secretary general's wisdom;
the strength of the backlash against globalisation has become much more evident to everybody," the official
message to this year's meeting will contain little
new, but it has acquired more urgency, he went on.
has said forum leaders decided to meet outside Davos
for the first time in 32 years after New
York's World Trade Center -- an icon of capitalism -- was destroyed in the September 11 terrorist
making a facile link between poverty and terrorism,
the secretary general will emphasise that the existence
of widespread deprivation is not something that can
be safely ignored for long," the UN official said.
said Annan would also say something on public health
issues, including malaria and HIV/AIDS.
Global Fund to fight these diseases and tuberculosis, established last year at Annan's initiative, became operational Tuesday.
in Geneva, its newly-appointed board said it had so far received 1.9 billion dollars
in pledges, of which 700,000 million dollars was earmarked
to fight HIV/AIDS,in 2002.
Piot, director of the joint UN initiative on AIDS,
has said the fund will need 9.2 billion dollars three
years from now.
is also likely to give a plug for the UN conference
on financing for development, which takes place in Monterrey, Mexico, from March 18 to 22 and is to formally adopt a document completed here
European diplomat who took part in the drafting of the document described it as a "pale"
text that fell short of the expectations of poor nations.
commitment to a level playing field in international
trade is something we need to see much more clearly
spelt out," the UN official said, giving a hint
of another theme Annan might develop at the New York meeting.