"The story of America is about the actualization of freedom."
Dr. Don Betz offered this comment to illustrate the values of the United Nations as they are expressed in the UN Millennium Declaration. He encouraged his listeners to compare the fundamental values of the United Nations to the goals and aspirations of all Americans.
The fundamental goals of the UN, Dr. Betz said, are Freedom, Equality, Solidarity, Tolerance, Respect for Nature, and Shared Responsibility.
"The world has said these are our priorities as an international community," Betz observed. He went on to describe the progress that has been made since the adoption of the Millennium Declaration in the year 2000.
Dr. Betz was speaking at our UN Day luncheon at the University of Central Oklahoma. About 50 members and friends of the United nations Association gathered to enjoy a good meal, excellent company, and a timely message delivered by the president of the university.
The UN Millennium Development Goals were launched in 2000, the result of an international development conference convened by the UN General Assembly. The launch of the "MDG's" has been described as "...the most effective anti-poverty campaign in history."
Dr. Betz offered a thumbnail sketch of the progress that has been made so far:
On Goal Number 1 -- the UN's goal to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger -- the UN has scored a "huge global win." Extreme poverty rates have been cut in half since 1990.
Reporting on Goal Number 2 (focused on the achievement of universal primary education), Dr. Betz noted that enrollment in primary education in developing regions of the world has reached 90%.
On a related goal -- Goal Number 3, to promote gender equality and empower women -- Betz reported that, with only a few exceptions, the world has achieved equality in primary education between girls and boys.
A complete report on the success of the MDG's can be found on the UN's website.
"These are astonishing statistics that you don't read on the front page of the newspaper," Dr. Betz commented.
He outlined the progress that has been made on each of the UN's 8 Millennium Development Goals -- measures which deal broadly with health, education, poverty reduction, environmental sustainability, and promoting a global partnership for development.
President Betz acknowledged that the UN has been able to achieve these successes -- but only with the help of others.
In this regard, he described the UN's relative weakness as an international organization. It has no army. It has only a meager budget. It is dependent on contributions from its 193 member nations.
Moreover, it relies on support from thousands of international non-governmental organizations (NGO's) which have sprung up over the course of decades. The Millennium Declaration expresses the UN's resolve, "...To develop strong partnerships with the private sector and with civil society organizations in pursuit of development and poverty eradication."
Despite the UN's relative weakness, the men and women of the UN are empowered by a common vision which is the realization of two axioms:
<> None of us are smarter than all of us; and
<> All of us are in it together.
Taken together, these thoughts form the fundamental precept of the United Nations.
"We are inextricably interwoven" with the rest of the world, Dr. Betz said. Our lives and our fortunes are tied up with the lives and fortunes of the people who co-habit our planet.
And, even though the UN is a human institution (with inevitable human foibles and failings), it continues to represent our best hope for the future.
In introducing his topic, Dr. Betz recalled a quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881 - 1955), a French scientist and philosopher:
"The Age of Nations is passed. If we are not to perish, we must set aside our ancient prejudices and build the Earth."
Each of us is part of the effort to create a shared future, based on our common humanity in all its diversity.
For more news about the world's progress on meeting the MDG's, see the website of the UN Millennium Campaign ... www.endpoverty2015.org/