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Last Updated: Monday, 20 September, 2004, 22:12 GMT 23:12 UK
Call to action on world poverty
Jacques Chirac and Lula da Silva
Chirac and Lula want wealth to be a vehicle for integration
The French and Brazilian presidents have called for new action to fight poverty in the developing world.

At a New York meeting ahead of the UN General Assembly, they urged radical steps to raise the $50bn UN officials say is needed to tackle the problem.

Money could come from new charges or taxes on such things as greenhouse gas emissions, arms sales, airline tickets and credit card purchases.

More than a billion people live in absolute poverty (less than $1 a day).

'Positive force'

The meeting focused on a report by a UN commission which said that the global imbalances were morally unacceptable and politically unsustainable.

There is no future in globalisation that tolerates predatory behaviour and the hoarding of its profits by a minority
Jacques Chirac
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and French President Jacques Chirac said world leaders should ensure that the world's unprecedented wealth became a vehicle for the integration - rather than the exclusion - of the most underprivileged.

"We must harness globalisation, we must turn it into a positive force for all peoples of the world," Mr Lula told the meeting.

Mr Chirac said they needed new approaches to the problem of poverty.

"It is up to us to give globalisation a conscience," he said. "There is no future in globalisation that tolerates predatory behaviour and the hoarding of its profits by a minority. There is no future in globalisation that destroys the social and economic balances, crushes the weak and denies human rights."

UN Secretary General Annan also supported the initiatives, saying it was in nations' power to manage globalisation better than they did.

The meeting was followed by another summit on hunger and poverty, organised by Lula.

The BBC's Brazil correspondent Steve Kingstone describes it as Lula's attempt to export the philosophy that he has made the main priority of his administration.

Worldwide, more than 800 million people are chronically malnourished, according to the UN.

Bush absent

Among the fundraising options included in recommendations by a UN expert group for the globalisation meeting were global taxes on arms sales, greenhouse gas emissions and multinational corporations.

There were other proposals such as taxes on ships passing through key routes, airline tickets and credit purchases, and an international lottery.

US President George W Bush was invited but failed to attend the meetings.

A US representative at the UN, Sichan Siv, praised the UN recommendations for their commitment to democracy and human rights, but said that less rather than more government might be the solution to some of the world's problems.

World growing hungrier, says UN
25 Nov 03  |  Health
Lula proposes hunger fund
02 Jun 03  |  Americas
World failing to reduce hunger
15 Oct 02  |  Science/Nature

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