Good afternoon. Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen.
In the Charter of this United Nations, our countries pledged to work for "the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples." In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we recognized the inherent dignity and rights of every individual, including the right to a decent standard of living. And a decade ago, at the dawn of a new millennium, we set concrete goals to free our fellow men, women and children from the injustice of extreme poverty.
These are the standards we set. Today, we must ask -- are we living up to our mutual responsibilities?
I suspect that some in wealthier countries may ask -- with our economies struggling, so many people out of work, and so many families barely getting by, why a summit on development? The answer is simple. In our global economy, progress in even the poorest countries can advance the prosperity and security of people far beyond their borders, including my fellow Americans.
When a child dies from a preventable disease, it shocks our conscience. When a girl is deprived of an education or her mother is denied equal rights, it undermines the prosperity of their nation. When a young entrepreneur can't start a new business, it stymies the creation of new jobs and markets -- in his country and in ours. When millions of fathers cannot provide for their families, it feeds the despair that can fuel instability and violent extremism. When a disease goes unchecked, it can endanger the health of millions around the world.
So let's put to rest the old myth that development is mere charity that does not serve our interests. And let's reject the cynicism that says certain countries are condemned to perpetual poverty. For the past half century has witnessed more gains in human development than at any time in history. A disease that had ravaged the generations, smallpox, was eradicated. Health care has reached the far corners of the world, saving the lives of millions. From Latin America to Africa to Asia, developing nations have transformed into leaders in the global economy.
Nor can anyone deny the progress that has been made toward achieving certain Millennium Development Goals. The doors of education have been opened to tens of millions of children, boys and girls. New cases of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are down; access to clean drinking water is up. Around the world, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted from extreme poverty.
Yet we must also face the fact that progress towards other goals has not come nearly fast enough. Not for the hundreds of thousands of women who lose their lives every year simply giving birth. Not for the millions of children who die from the agony of malnutrition. Not for the nearly one billion people who endure the misery of chronic hunger.
This is the reality we must face -- that if the international community just keeps doing the same things the same way, we will miss many development goals. That is the truth. With ten years down and just five years before our development targets come do, we must do better.
Now, I know that helping communities and countries realize a better future isn't easy. I've seen it in my own life. I saw it in my mother, as she worked to lift up the rural poor, from Indonesia to Pakistan. And I saw it on the streets of Chicago, were I worked as a community organizer trying to build up underdeveloped neighborhoods. It's hard. But I know progress is possible.
As President, I have made it clear that the United States will do our part. My national security strategy recognizes development as not only a moral imperative, but a strategic and economic imperative. Secretary of State Clinton is leading a review to strengthen and better coordinate our diplomacy and development efforts. We've reengaged with multilateral development institutions. And we're rebuilding the United States Agency for International Development as the world's premier development agency. In short, we're making sure that the United States will be a global leader in international development in the 21st century.