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Eliminate "Obscene Inequality", GCAP Co-chair Amitabh Behar tells UN

World leaders must address "the current context of obscene inequality" if we are to truly eliminate poverty and create a life of dignity for all, as promised in recent reports by the UN Secretary-General and his High-Level Panel on Post-2015.

This was the key message of GCAP co-chair Amitabh Behar as he addressed the United Nations General Assembly during a 'special event' on the Millennium Development Goals organised by UNGA President John Ashe.

"We have enough for everybody's need, but not for everybody's greed," Behar told UN leaders, while making a reference to a famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi.

This is a video of the entire UN Roundtable session. 
To watch Amitabh Behar's presentation, go to 2hr 39min 45sec into the stream.

The United Nations is considering how to accelerate efforts to meet the MDGs and define a new Post-2015 global development agenda. Behar was one of just eight civil society leaders invited to formally address the UN General Assembly at a roundtable on the MDGs.

There are two narratives that we see: one is a narrative of anger, people's anger, and on the other hand, you also have the narrative of people's aspirations and hope," Behar notes. "We need to set the bar much higher and look at the structural causes of poverty and not only at (its) manifestations."

As a start, justice should be the primary principle of any development paradigm.

Behar also advised UN members to embrace five key principles:

  1. Place the socially excluded at the heart of development
  2. Gender Justice, including sexual and reproductive rights
  3. Envinronmental Justice (not just 'environmental sustainability')
  4. People's right to land, water and forest
  5. Just and accountable governance - both for nations and in the global trade, aid and financial architecture.

Moving forward, Behar reminded UN members that while the private sector has a role to play in development, the central responsibility belongs to the State.  He also called for "process indicators" - such as a WHO recommendation that 5% of a country's GDP be spent on health - in addition to the MDG-like results indicators.

On the sidelines of the General Assembly, Greenpeace Int'l Executive Director and GCAP Ambassador Kumi Naidoo echoed this call, remininding us that "not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted".

"There are potential dangers in focusing excessively on measurability as opposed to ensuring and strengthening community participation," Naidoo says.

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