Millennium Development Goals

We [heads of state] recognize that...we have a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality, and equity at the global level. As leaders we have a duty therefore to all the world's people, especially the most vulnerable and, in particular, the children of the world, to whom the future belongs. United Nations Millennium Declaration, Article 2

Near the end of the 20th century, a decade of planning, summits, and conferences involving member governments of the United Nations culminated in the UN Millennium Document. This document, adopted by UN member nations at the 2000 Millennium Summit, serves as a multinational commitment to reduce extreme poverty around the world. It outlines specific targets and measurable results to be met by the year 2015: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"The Goals represent human needs and basic rights that every individual around the world should be able to enjoy," United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon writes in his foreword to the 2010 Millennium Development Goals Report, "freedom from extreme poverty and hunger; quality education; productive and decent employment; good health and shelter; the right of women to give birth without risking their lives; and a world where environmental sustainability is a priority and women and men live in equality." (The Millennium Development Goals Report 2010). Leaders who signed the document pledged to forge a wide-ranging global partnership for development to achieve these universal objectives.

Faith communities can become significant partners with the United Nations in achieving these goals. On the continent of Africa, for instance, where national governments struggle to meet the goals, faith-based organizations sponsor 40 percent of the health facilities operating today. A number of renowned United Methodist medical institutions have already been tapped by African governments to anchor outreach and training programs to help national health systems fill gaps. The goals for reducing infant and maternal mortality and for combating disease are all advanced by United Methodist health institutions.

Likewise, Methodist schools--including institutions established in the last two centuries and new schools founded more recently--have helped to educate girls in countries where such education was not traditionally accepted. An education helps young women better understand their choices regarding marriage and when to have children. It also positions them to help girls in their communities become better educated, which tends to lift women out of poverty while improving gender equality--two more goals.

In fact, all the Millennium Development Goals give The United Methodist Church an opportunity to partner with government efforts in working toward them. The church ministries need not accept government support in order to work in the same areas of concern. Rather, church and state can augment and anchor one another's efforts to improve life for all people, upholding human dignity and equality throughout the world.

Christie R. House is the editor of New World Outlook.

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