Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Doha meetings are over, nothing much done

The meetings on international aid and free trade in Doha, Qutar are over. Nothing much was done except wondering why no one showed up, and going over development documents from 2002.

Ann Ninan of the IPS surveyed reaction from anti-poverty, and human rights groups on the meetings,

"The world urgently needs effective decisions and follow-up which are inclusive and decisive. Instead of action plans, (they) spent four days going back and forth on language, not on the food, energy, gender, climate, moral crises," says Sylvia Borren of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP).

As Borren put it, "What is disappointing is there is no bailout plan for the vulnerable peoples of the world, but huge bailouts for banks and financial institutions."

The review conference, however, reaffirmed the Monterrey goals. It also moved forward in some important areas, chiefly with regard to gender equality. The document commits to the promotion of gender equality and women’s economic empowerment as essential to achieving equitable and effective development.

"But this is not enough," asserts the Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development, a network of nine coalitions including the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) and the International Gender and Trade Network (IGTN).

"The commitments to gender equality in the document will only truly be meaningful if the systemic issues that underpin poverty are decisively addressed," say activists representing the 250 civil society groups and networks that participated in a two-day forum in Doha, Nov. 27-28, ahead of the official meeting.

The Doha conference was called by the U.N. not as a pledging conference but to review progress made in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2002, on commitments for new development aid from rich countries as well as agreements on debt relief, the fight against corruption, public-private partnerships and official development assistance (ODA).

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