In UN meeting, world leaders to discuss global poverty fight

(CNN) — World leaders convene in New York on Monday for a United Nations summit on global goals to fight poverty, hunger and disease.

They will discuss the Millennium Development Goals they signed up for a decade ago, including halving extreme poverty by 2015.

In a report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the summit is “crucially important” for meeting the eight anti-poverty goals. Progress reaching the targets has been uneven, he said, and several of the goals are likely to be missed in many countries if additional efforts are not made.

Almost 150 heads of state are expected to attend the meeting, the UN said, which comes as many donor countries are tightening purse-strings in the wake of large fiscal deficits, rising debts and the global economic crisis.

“But economic uncertainty cannot be an excuse for slowing down our development efforts,” Ban said in the report.

The meeting to discuss Millennium Development Goals is a major agenda item in a week that will include high-level discussions among international leaders as the United Nations General Assembly annual debate begins Thursday.

United Nations officials are urging leaders to use the meetings as an opportunity to ratify dozens of international treaties ranging from protecting human rights to fighting terrorism to preserving biodiversity, a statement released by the organization said.

Last year, 64 countries took 103 treaty actions, the highest participation in four years, according to the UN.

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