In September 2000, the 189 countries of the United Nations unanimously agreed to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty,” specifically hunger and the “major diseases that afflict humanity.”
To accomplish this great objective would be expensive, and the price was later estimated at about $195 billion a year. It would be very difficult for this amount of money to be raised by private charities or individuals. It would require the combined efforts of governments throughout the world to do it.
|COUNTRY||For each $100 earned in the country, how much is donated in aid||Aid as % of income||How close the country is to reaching the 0.7% goal|
|Sweden||98 cents||0.98||Already reached goal|
|Luxembourg||92 cents||0.92||Already reached goal|
|Norway||88 cents||0.88||Already reached goal|
|Denmark||82 cents||0.82||Already reached goal|
|Netherlands||80 cents||0.80||Already reached goal|
|Ireland||58 cents||0.58||Scheduled to reach in 2012|
|Belgium||47 cents||0.47||Scheduled to reach in 2010|
|Spain||43 cents||0.43||Scheduled to reach in 2012|
|United Kingdom||43 cents||0.43||Scheduled to reach in 2013|
|Finland||43 cents||0.43||Scheduled to reach in 2010|
|Austria||42 cents||0.42||Scheduled to reach in 2015|
|Switzerland||41 cents||0.41||No schedule yet|
|France||39 cents||0.39||Scheduled to reach in 2012|
|Germany||38 cents||0.38||Scheduled to reach in 2014|
|Australia||34 cents||0.34||No schedule yet|
|Canada||32 cents||0.32||No schedule yet|
|New Zealand||30 cents||0.30||No schedule yet|
|Portugal||27 cents||0.27||Scheduled to reach in 2015|
|Greece||20 cents||0.20||Scheduled to reach in 2015|
|Italy||20 cents||0.20||Scheduled to reach in 2015|
|Japan||18 cents||0.18||No schedule yet|
|United States||18 cents||0.18||No schedule yet|
Countries Agree to 0.7% in International Aid
In the March 2002 Monterrey Conference, 22 of the world’s wealthiest countries (listed above) agreed to make “concrete efforts” towards the goal of each giving 0.7 per cent of their national income as aid to the poorest countries. This conference was attended by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, U.S. President George Bush, French President Jacques Chirac, and many other world leaders.
In the September 2002 Johannesburg Summit, these same 22 counties re-affirmed their commitment to reach the 0.7% goal. This would provide enough money to raise the $195 billion per year.
Why the 0.7% Agreement?
The countries made this agreement because they realized that it was hard for each country on its own to give a consistent, minimum level of aid each year. Despite good intentions, a country would find that the aid it wanted to give was eaten away by competing political interests, concern about budget deficits, “problems at home,” “problems abroad,” and so on. So they agreed to a minimal, flat rate that each country could afford each year regardless of its current political or economic state.
The 0.7% figure may sound complicated, but it is actually quite simple. You take the total income earned by all the people in the country and then the government gives 0.7% (seven tenths of one percent) of that as aid. Or to look at it another way: for every $100 earned in the country, the country gives 70 cents in aid.
How are the countries doing?
As the chart above shows, five countries have already met the goal to give 0.7% of their income in international aid: Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
In 2002 and 2003, five other countries set up a schedule to give 0.7%: Belgium, Ireland, Finland, France, and Spain.
In July 2004, the United Kingdom set up a schedule to give 0.7%.
In April 2005, Germany set up a schedule to give 0.7%.
In May 2005, Austria, Greece, Italy, and Portugal set up a schedule to give 0.7%.
It was not easy for many of the countries to set up a schedule to reach the 0.7% goal. In some cases, such as Britain and Germany, it took the combined effort of many thousands of citizens writing and petitioning their government to get it done.
The remaining six countries
Only six countries have not yet set up a schedule to give 0.7%. These are Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United States. To raise the $195 billion a year, these six will need to reach the goal.
These six countries are all democracies. All that is necessary for them to reach the 0.7% goal is for enough of their citizens to show their support.
Sources: UN Millennium Project, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), The End of Poverty (Jeffrey D. Sachs), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).