The Center for FaithJustice has invited eight people to contribute to a monthly series about the United Nations Millennium Goals. On the first Tuesday of each month from November through June we will consider the progress and challenges of one of the eight Millennium Goals through the eyes of a writer involved in the particular issue, such as achieving universal primary education, improving maternal health, or eradicating HIV/AIDS.
Today, Camille Introcaso introduces us to the series.
Camille E. Introcaso, M.D.
In the fall of 2000, world leaders gathered in New York City for the Millennium Summit, a meeting seeking to define the role of the United Nations in the twenty-first century. Out of that gathering came the Millennium Declaration, a document which announced “a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity … [and] 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.” The Millennium Declaration resolved to “spare no effort” to end extreme poverty and its consequences, and to promote international relationships that allow all people to benefit from globalization. All 189 countries of the United Nations signed the Declaration, making it the most widely endorsed call to end poverty in history.
In order to turn the intentions of the Declaration into actions, leaders identified eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and agreed to achieve them by 2015. Each MDG comprises specific targets and measurable objectives for each target. Together the MDGs require nations to raise standards of living, empower women, curb infectious disease, protect the environment and develop sustainable infrastructure. Additionally, the MDGs require rich countries to take a leading role in helping the poor through debt relief, fair trade, monetary aid, and ensuring access to education, safe water, nutritive food, technology and medication.
With this blog series, the Center for FaithJustice aims to recognize and affirm that the MDGs reflect the basic tenets of social justice: they call for equality and opportunity for all people, and they hold the privileged responsible for sharing our wealth with the world’s poor. They stress the need for respect for our environment and the necessity of caring for the sick, empowering the marginalized, and educating the neglected in order to create a just and peaceful world. By recognizing that all people have rights and dignity, and that it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure those rights, the MDGs mirror God’s call to stand with the poor, vulnerable and oppressed.
At the heart of this series is a desire to involve each of us in achieving these goals. In order to be engaged, we need an intellectual openness to examine the MDGs for shortcomings in design and implementation. Despite their depth, the MDGs have been criticized for not being adequately specific or quantifiable enough, and for not focusing on local participation or political empowerment other than that of women. And although they include some assessable aims and requirements, they are general recommendations. Individual countries can choose to figure out how to achieve the goals…or not. Each guest writer in this series has been invited to look critically at the MDGs and to teach us about the bad as well as the good.
This past September marks 11 years since the Millennium Summit and the adoption of the MDGs. Throughout the last decade progress towards the achievement of the MDGs has been watched closely by many, from Pope Benedict (Pope Benedict’s 2008 appeal to developed countries to fulfill their commitments to the MDGs) to Bono (the lead singer of U2’s 2010 New York Times update on the MDGs). In the coming months, the Center for FaithJustice blog will feature each of the MDGs. Together we’ll learn about the scope of each goal, our progress towards achieving it, and what we can do to help.
This call to action, to live a faith that works for justice, is at the heart of the Center for FaithJustice. In a world that is too often violent, selfish and callous, it is inspirational to know we aren’t alone in our work for justice. Hundreds of countries have pledged to work to end extreme poverty, and in the near future! Recognizing that there is much to be done, let’s find ways to support and participate in this work.
Camille Introcaso, M.D., is a dermatologist with a focus on global health, and she has worked as a clinician in Africa and North and South America. She completed the Global Health Equities Residency Program at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 2010 and earned a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Peru in 2011. She is currently working as a public health practitioner in Atlanta, Georgia.