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Vol 46 No 19

Published 23rd September 2005

The good, the bad and the ugly rumours

An anti-genocide agreement, fine words on development and failure on human rights and disarmament mark the world's biggest summit

As delegations from 191 governments choked New York's narrow streets, diplomats and United Nations' bureaucrats tried to craft an accord that tackled critical security and development issues and set the UN on the path to reform. The accord was meant to synthesise the conclusions of a high-level panel which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had set up in 2003 to examine threats to peace and security with a detailed report by economist Jeffrey Sachs on the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of reducing global poverty by half by 2015. The aim was a security consensus, a diplomatic trade-off mediated through the UN: rich countries would provide more aid, open markets and debt relief and poor countries would do more to counter terrorism, instability and proliferation of the deadliest weapons. For Africa, the timing was critical. It was a chance to build on the pledges made by the Group of Eight (G-8) countries at July's Gleneagles summit (AC Vol 46 Nos 10 & 14) and extract a clearer commitment from rich countries to end agricultural subsidies and widen market access in the run-up to December's World Trade Organisation talks in Hong Kong.

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