For One of World's Poorest Nations, Summit May Be a Bust
Mar. 09, 1995
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ Afsarul Qadar got $50 a day for food and a chance to see Denmark. Unless things change fast, the Bangladeshi doctor thinks that's all he'll get out of this week's global poverty summit.
``If there really is debt relief, and if there really is an effort to give Third World countries access to markets, then maybe something can come from this,'' the Bangladeshi delegate said Wednesday, midway through the summit.
``But most things are being done on the basis of politics,'' Qadar complained. ``It's just talk, not backed up by substance. Of course, it will be a waste of our time and money.''
Qadar's disappointment reflected the wide gulf still yawning before delegates to the U.N. meeting _ convened to find consensus on fighting poverty and social inequality worldwide.
The 193-nation summit of world leaders and experts was heading toward rejection of firm conditions for debt relief, expanded foreign aid and social spending. Donors may be asked only to give more aid money on a ``case-by-case'' basis.
``Of course it's a defeat,'' Qadar said.
Initiatives to fight female illiteracy and unemployment might help. But for developing countries like Bangladesh, the whole reason for making the expensive trip to Copenhagen was to get something tangible from wealthy countries.
``It isn't anybody's fault in particular,'' Qadar said. ``But there is an expression in Western philosophy: Noblesse oblige. They have an obligation to help.''
Average income in Bangladesh two years ago was $220. It was about 100 times higher in the United States _ $23,300.
Bangladesh has 45 delegates at the World Summit for Social Development. Back home, there are 120 million others who need more than hopeful words of support, Qadar said.
``You can ask for many things. But it's easier said than done,'' he said.