Danes nominate Millennium Development Goals for Nobel Peace Prize

Christian Friis Bach

Christian Friis Bach [United Nations Economic Commission for Europe]

Denmark’s Minister for Development Aid, Mogens Jensen, together with eight predecessors, has nominated the so-called 2015 goals, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The eight MDGs – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. These goals have also contributed to unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.

The Danish ministers behind the nomination have all worked with and tried to implement the MDGs over the past 15 years. The ministers include Christian Friis Bach, who is now Executive Secretary at the UN Economic Commission for Europe, Anita Bay Bundegaard, who now works as director and UN Representative for Save the Children in Geneva, as well as Poul Nielson, a former EU Commissioner for Development.

On behalf of the ministers, Jensen said in a statement that the the 2015 goals, since they were set up around the turn of the century, have played a big and remarkable role in creating development globally.

“This was the first time world leaders came together on this kind of declaration. The goals have contributed to very concrete results such as halving extreme poverty and that nine out of ten children go to school today. The goals have gathered world society on creating a vision on creating development, stability and better conditions in many corners of the world. They have contributed in the fight for a more peaceful world and therefore deserve to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize,” Jensen said.  

Globally, the MDG target for the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has been met five years ahead of the target date. About 700 million fewer people lived in extreme poverty conditions in 2010 than in 1990. For universal primary education, the goal has almost been achieved with an enrollment rate growing from 83% to 90% from 2000 until 2011. The number of out-of-school children also dropped by almost half from 102 million in 2000 to 57 million in 2011. The United Nations says that achieving gains in education will have an impact on all MDGs.

However, when it comes to “promote gender equality and empower women”, gender gaps in access to education have narrowed, but disparities remain among regions in all levels of education, particularly for the most excluded and marginalised.

Though there has been major progress across all developing regions in reducing gender gaps in primary school attendance, girls continue to face barriers to schooling, particularly in North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia.  

The 2015 goals are expected to be replaced by new goals at the United Nations’ general assembly in September. The Danes said they want the next 15 years to focus on education, women’s rights, peace, security and sustainable development with a focus on green growth, water, energy and the climate. 

The deadline for nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize was 1 February.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson was asked yesterday (3 February) about the nomination of the MDGs for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“I was around already when the MDGs were established in 2000 and at that time, we were rather modest about the role they would play. But if you look at what MDGs have achieved since, this is quite remarkable,” Eliasson said, stressing the “mobilising effect” of the initiative for global development.

He said that he has been personally particularly active in the field of water and sanitation and that he has seen that by the fact that MDGs have set goals and targets, and that they had been measurable, has helped achieving a lot in this area.

Eliasson added that he hoped that the post-2015 MDGs would play a similar role. 

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes created by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature.

Since 1901, it has been awarded annually (with some exceptions) to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".

The EU won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.

  • Sept. 2015: High-level summit to adopt a new set of goals building on the achievements of the MDGs.

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