UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the international community to join in the struggle against poverty and make this "moral challenge of the present age" a calling for the many, instead of a task for the few.
The UN chief made the appeal in a message for the 14th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty which falls on Tuesday.
The UN chief noted that this year's theme "Working together out of poverty" highlights the need for a truly global anti-poverty alliance, which calls for the active participation of both developed and developing countries.
The world has made real but insufficient progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), Annan said, noting while extreme poverty declined significantly between 1990 and 2002 from 28 percent to 19 percent of the developing world's population, progress has been uneven both within and between regions and countries.
In much of Asia, economic and social progress has lifted nearly a quarter of a billion people out of perpetual poverty. But poverty rates in Western Asia and Northern Africa have remained stagnant. While the transition economies of Eastern Europe and Central Asia have registered increases, sub-Saharan Africa lags far behind, with the region unlikely to meet the MDG of halving extreme poverty by 2015, the Secretary-General said.
Annan stressed that more needs to be done to tackle poverty and underdevelopment. He urged developed nations to come through on their Official Development Assistance and debt relief commitments, and developing nations, for their part, to adopt national strategies to achieve the MDG.
For developing countries already on track to achieve the Goals, they can aim higher by adopting even more ambitious targets, Annan added.
The UN chief deplored that "global partnership for development "remains more phrase than fact. He urged all key development actors, governments, the private sector, civil society and people living in poverty, to undertake a truly collective anti-poverty effort that will lift living standards and alleviate human suffering.
In 1992, the UN General Assembly declared Oct. 17 the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The observance aims to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty in all countries, particularly in developing countries.
(Xinhua News Agency October 18, 2006)