By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
12 September 2005
The scheduled high-level review of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the United Nations (UN) on 14-16 September is merely another attempt to further legitimize the sham being peddled by the UN and the international financial institutions (IFIs) under the auspices of the most predatory imperialist powers.
Far from promoting global economic and social justice, the MDGs is a shrewd scheme of the imperialist powers to distract attention from structural issues that are the root cause of the chronic and worsening poverty which afflicts billions of people around the world today. Worse, the MDGs is being used to promote the same policy prescriptions of imperialist globalization that have hastened and aggravated the massive destruction of livelihood and economic opportunities in poor countries where more than 1 billion people are forced to survive on less than US$1 a day.
Originally conceived by the imperialist countries through the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1996 and picked up by the UN in its 2000 Millennium Declaration, the MDGs conveniently distorted the issue of poverty, and ignored its causes and conditions. Thus, it did not only set token and selective targets to eradicate poverty but also twisted the very concept of poverty eradication to accommodate the corporate agenda of imperialist globalization while avoiding such crucial demands as unconditional cancellation of debt of all poor countries, the reversal of World Trade Organization (WTO)-type international trade regime, and the reversal of International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Bank-imposed neo-liberal economic reforms.
The scale of debt in the poorest countries has so crippled their economies that development has become impossible because much of the limited resources are being deflected to debt servicing. In 2002, the level of debt of the poorest countries was almost 21 times its size in 1970. The international usury perpetrated by the IFIs has siphoned off US$550 billion in interest and principal payments for US$540 billion of loans, yet the poorest countries still owe foreign creditors US$523 billion as of 2002. 
The declaration last June of the Group of Seven (G7), the principal cabal of imperialist powers, to cancel 100% of the US$40 billion owed by 18 heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) is a vain attempt to fend off criticisms on the sincerity of their much-ballyhooed ‘making poverty history’ publicity stunt. By imposing the terms of the debt cancellation including disastrous neo-liberal reforms, the G7 initiative merely legitimized the odious and illegitimate debt incurred by the puppet regimes of these poor countries and debt which facilitated their economic plunder by imperialist corporations and banks.
In fact, the MDGs systematically makes semi-colonial and colonial countries even more beholden to their imperialist patrons rather than promoting self-reliance through genuine national industrialization. While the MDGs commit to achieve universal access to primary education and improve health services, it promotes the same post-Washington consensus ( i.e. liberalization, deregulation, and privatization plus ‘good governance’) policies that have, in the first place, intensified the bankruptcy and indebtedness of national governments in the Third World, and obliterated their capacity to provide vital social services including health and education. To finance such services, the rich countries promised to provide more aid money such as the US$5-billion Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) of the US. But the problem with the MCA is not simply the doubtful commitment of the US to the MDGs with the Bush administration’s recent statement that it only supports the Millennium Declaration but not the specific targets of the MDGs. 
Worse, poor countries have to first implement US-imposed preconditions including economic liberalization to have access to the MCA.
The liberalization of trade and investment, the drastic reduction in government spending on vital social services, the privatization and deregulation of strategic economic activities all have pushed the workers, peasants, urban and rural poor, indigenous people, women, youth, and other marginalized sectors not only in poverty but also in unspeakable desolation while generating unimaginable wealth and power for the few. According to the UN’s Human Development Report 2005, in 1990, the average American was 38 times richer than the average Tanzanian while today, the average American is now 61 times richer. 
It is clear from the onset that poor countries should never hope that the MDGs will truly address the issue of poverty precisely because the MDGs was designed to deodorize the imperialist plunder that has impoverished and dehumanized the people of the poor world. The MDGs runs counter to the peoples’ fight against poverty precisely because it does not attend to the structural issues of global poverty, namely the neocolonial relations between the rich and the poor in terms of development cooperation, trade, diplomacy, etc. that is at the core of the permanent crisis of backwardness and poverty in the semi-colonies and colonies, but even perpetrates the exploitative relations between the semi-colonies and colonies and their imperialist masters.
The only way to fight poverty is the assertion of the poor people’s inalienable human right not simply to live but to live decently and this entails the struggle to bring to an end all structures of exploitation and poverty. At the minimum, this means freeing all the poor countries from the debt bondage without conditions, reversing all WTO and IMF-World Bank neo-liberal policies, and creating a global environment which recognizes and respects the sovereign right of poor countries and their people to determine their own development agenda and needs. Any effort to combat poverty should not be without these minimum requisites.
But we should recognize that these reforms will not be given to the poor on a silver platter by imperialist institutions including and even the UN. Like all the hard-earned victories of the people in the past, it can only be borne out by the militant and uncompromising struggle for national liberation, social justice and peace of the anti-imperialist movement. This is what the International League of Peoples” Struggle is striving to advance. #
————————————————————————  ‘The scale of the debt crisis’ by Anup Shah, Global Issues website, page last updated on 2 July 2005.
 ‘US, UN escalate global aid squabble’ by Column Lynch, The Washington Post, 2 September 2005.
 Chapter 1: The State of Human Development, Human Development Report 2005, United Nations Development Program (UNDP).