May 12, 2011, 9:50 AM
Having been around the UN maze for some years as an NGO representative, I can testify to both the thrills and the frustrations that come with work in this massive international body. The United Nations can, rightfully, claim the mantle of the last best hope for sustaining global peace and human development on a truly planetary scale.
And the United Nations does good work, of course. Witness the declaration of eight very ambitious United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), formulated to confronting the need to reduce world poverty, address child health issues, deal with the health of mothers, lift up gender equality, promote universal literacy and basic education, tackle the AIDS/HIV pandemic, insure environmental sustainability, and strengthen the global partnerships that are engaged in these issues.
But Ajarat Bada, a young Nigerian-born nurse and Muslim activist, has reminded all of us about one glaring omission in this list of objectives: the need for solidarity and cooperation among the religions of the world to insure that these goals are realized.
Ajarat, as one of the key leaders of an international team of youth activists, was one of the major presenters at the One Young World youth summit in London last February, where she presented the outline of the idea about the “missing” Millennium Development Goal. While some might say that “missing” is too strong an adjective, Ajarat and her colleagues are determined to press the essential point that the MDG’s cannot be realized without a major shift in the attitudes, and level of cooperation, among the religious communities of the earth.
She plans, indeed, to be at a major meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations, an international interfaith and intercultural initiative linked to United Nations objectives, later in May to press the case for the urgency of deeper inter-religious collaboration. In the mean time, the Missing MDG group has a very important online petition that everyone should sign and support. It can be located at:
MAS Freedom has long been an advocate of national policies that address the underlying global problems that the Millennium Development Goals seek to solve, and we are proud that a young Muslim leader is at the forefront of building the interfaith action network that must push the urgency of a massive response to the issues. In the United States, for example, faith traditions must advocate for the U.S. government contribution of more of our national wealth for development assistance; while the MDG goal is 1.5% of the U.S. Gross National Product, America is woefully short of the target contribution amount, and significantly behind nations like Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.
But more than that, we celebrate the fact that a Muslim is taking a central role in reminding us all of our obligation to Allah (SWT) to be good caretakers and guardians of the earth and all who dwell on it.
We urge you to look at the Millennium Development Goals, sign the petition in support of the “Missing MDG’s”, and help Ajarat and her colleagues in their noble effort to uplift youth, and push our faith communities toward greater engagement in global efforts to eradicate poverty in the most seriously affected communities in the world.
This piece was written by Ibrahim Ramey of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation