Social Watch Press Conference in Germany

Berlin/Osnabrück. On the occasion of the commemoration of the Tenth Anniversary of the Copenhagen World Summit (1995), German NGOs called for strengthening the fight against poverty and social exclusion. Last March 11, the Social Watch Germany representatives handed over to the Development Minister of that country, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (of the SPD), a catalogue of claims, which also included a protest for the insufficient actions undertaken regarding the resolutions adopted at the Copenhagen summit.

According to the spokesman for the NGOs network Social Watch Germany/Forum on the World Summit for Social Development, Klaus Heidel, “still after 10 years, none of the obligations undertaken at the summit with regards to social development have been materialised”. It should be remembered that the Head of States that were present at this summit had agreed to fulfil 10 commitments related to social development at a global level. Among them was the commitment aimed at achieving full employment, and the fight against discrimination and poverty.

The Executive Director of the organization “Terre des hommes”, a Swiss NGO engaged in the defence of children’s rights, Meter Mucke, considered the outcome of these 10 years as disappointing. Although some progress has been made in certain areas, 174 out of every 1,000 children die in Sub-Saharan Africa before their fifth birthday, and during this period, the number of poor people has increased in the region. Across the world, more than 2.7 billion people live submerged in poverty. According to Mucke, during this year, governments have their last chance to take the political decisions that would enable them to reach the Millennium goals by the year 2005.

Already in 1970, industrialized countries had undertaken the commitment to increase their development aid to a level equivalent to 0.7% of their GDP through a United Nations resolution. Up until today, this goal is far from being reached: the US devotes a share of 0.12% while Germany one of 0.28%. In mid-February, the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced that spending on development aid was going to be gradually increased until that 0.7% was reached. According to the plan developed by the Development Ministry, next year the spending on development aid would represent 0.33% of the German GDP, in 2010 it would be 0.5% and by 2015 the 0.7% would be finally reached.