As representatives of the United Nations gather in New York this week to assess the progress made towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), Christians are urging the leaders to be bold in making their commitments in spite of the recent economic crisis.
"With five years remaining until these Goals should be achieved, we call for clear and strong commitment to our promises," stated a letter signed by several Christian groups including the Anglican Communion, the World Evangelical Alliance, and the Salvation Army.
"We urge you to attend the September Summit in New York with bold plans for action, clear deadlines for their achievement and articulated financial contributions toward making them happen," the groups said, calling on negotiators to have "tenacious leadership" in pursuing the last five years of the MDG's.
In a video address to U.N. leaders, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams pressed leaders not to shrink back on their commitments because of financial difficulties stemming from the recent global crisis, noting that many governments are not in as dire straits as some may think.
"The fact is that even in the present climate, governments are not as short on resources as it's tempting them to think they are," Williams said. "More than that, there are resources with which they can cooperate, resources which they can build so as to make a difference together, and those are very often the resources to be found in civil society and not least in the communities of faith across the world."
Convening the MDG review summit on Monday, U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon made a similar emphasis saying that "being true means supporting the vulnerable despite the economic crisis."
"We should not balance budgets on the backs of the poor," he added
Adopted in 2001, the Millennium Development Goals represent "human needs and basic rights that every individual around the world should be able to enjoy" and include objectives such as reducing global poverty, achieving universal primary education, and promoting gender equality.
The latest report from the U.N. showed that several of the goals, including halving the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015, are on track to be met.