Mullings Describes Anti-Poverty Fight As Key Element Of OAS Agenda

Calling the fight against poverty “the most critical task” facing the hemisphere, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Seymour Mullings, has reiterated Jamaica’s intent to keep the issue “at the very forefront of the agenda” of the Organization of American States (OAS).
He declared that the increasing cooperation among member states to stem the “corrosive impact of extreme poverty,” would be a key focus of the Jamaican Permanent Mission to the OAS in 2004.
Ambassador Mullings’ comments came during an interview with JIS News after a recent meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS, which discussed the issue of poverty reduction, as well as efforts to further promote and consolidate democracy and to strengthen democratic governance throughout the Americas.
Describing the elimination of poverty and social exclusion as well as the need to promote equitable economic growth as “fundamental to the very stability of our hemisphere,” Mr. Mullings affirmed that social stability and overall progress in the region were “extremely dependent on the implementation of new strategies that promote greater social mobility, foster equal opportunity, and allow for greater access of ordinary citizens to education, affordable health and meaningful employment.”
The Jamaican envoy noted that with the convening of the High Level Meeting on Poverty, Equity and Social Exclusion three months ago in Venezuela, the Inter-American community has “served notice that the questions of poverty, of marginalization, of lack of access and opportunity, would now be in sharp focus and efforts would be made to grapple with these problems with great urgency.”
Calling the Millennium Declaration (in which Heads of State and Governments around the world declared a renewed commitment to liberate men, women, and children from the abject, dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty) an indication of a new global thrust to confront this challenge,Mr. Mullings urged that public pronouncements be matched with credible and well-funded programmes that would successfully alleviate poverty.
He also noted that agreements such as the Monterrey Consensus, which resulted from the United Nations-sponsored International Conference on Financing for Development held in Monterrey, Mexico in 2002, as well as the recent Special Summit of the Americas which was also held in Monterrey two weeks ago, represented “useful steps in fashioning programmes and initiatives that will make a difference” in reducing poverty.
Ambassador Mullings also warned that efforts to eliminate poverty would be undermined if the underlying causes responsible for the phenomenon were not adequately addressed, and if favourable conditions were not created that would promote equitable socio-economic development, ensure social justice, and engender greater respect for human rights.
Pointing to the special vulnerability of the working poor in small, developing countries in the region, Ambassador Mullings asserted that open, fair and balanced trade, which was transparent and sought to promote both economic and social development, was key to diminishing the ranks of the disadvantaged and marginalized within the hemisphere.
He also called for the adoption of development approaches which focused on improving the living standards of the general population, while simultaneously enhancing trade opportunities and increasing the overall competitiveness of the agricultural and service sectors, for example, through greater market access.

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