UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka on Monday lauded non-governmental and civil society organizations saying they were playing a critical role in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Mrs. Tibaijuka said the goals had been instrumental in bringing cohesion to the functioning of the United Nations system at the country level and that these organization were uniquely placed to help in achieving them.
She was speaking in Nairobi during the official opening of the fourth annual meeting of the NGO and CSO focal points of international and regional organizations. She congratulated the organizers for bringing the meeting to Africa for the first time saying the continent provided a perfect backdrop for their deliberations.
Giving her own story as having come from the NGO world, Mrs. Tibaijuka said the advances made by these organizations were evident in the fact that those who years back looked at NGOs and CSOs with suspicion and skepticism, were now espousing many of the measures they fought for so hard.
“Thanks to the democratization process and the fight for good governance and human rights, African NGOs now have a voice that is being heeded by governments as well as multilateral agencies,” she said.
She pointed out to the participants the declaration of the MDGs undertaken by world leaders in September 2005. Mrs. Tibaijuka said the urban context was critical to meeting all of the other goals. She summarized the goals as those seeking to eradicate poverty, achieving universal primary education, empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, fighting AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and forging a new partnership for development.
She said UN-HABITAT was delighted to have so many NGOs and civil society partners working with it in the fight against urban poverty in many areas from housing rights, and security, to domestic violence, micro-credit or caring for AIDS sufferers.
“UN-HABITAT has extensive collaboration with UN agencies, the international lending agencies and regional associations. We have established Habitat Programme Managers in 30 African countries housed within the UNDP system to ensure that urban poverty remains high on the national agenda,” she said.
Giving the keynote address, the chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Maina Kiai, said NGOs should work hard in cultivating accountability both to their donors and constituencies as well as from the United Nations.
“You should hold the bureaucrats in the United Nations system accountable, although this will be hard to do. If you can hold your own elected politicians accountable you should have no problem doing the same with unelected UN bureaucrats,” he said.