Crisis Management & the Millennium Development Goals: Sara Savino


Crisis management is a key element of successful completion of Millennium Development Goals says Ban Ki-Moon.

Since its inception in 1965, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has made tremendous progress, and is now active in 177 states and territories working towards fulfilling its aims of poverty reduction, democratisation, crisis management and environmental security. This process has accelerated significantly since the United Nations’ Millennium Declaration in 2000. The Millennium Declaration led to the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals, a pledge made by 189 nations to ”free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations”. The eight objectives of the Millennium Declaration encompass ending poverty and hunger, achieving widespread universal education, promoting gender equality, child health, maternal health, combating HIV/Aids, pursuing environmental sustainability and the achievement of a global partnership for development.

The 2012 Millennium Development  Goals report shows that significant progress has been made in important areas such as increasing access to primary education and HIV , tuberculosis and malaria treatments, as well as extreme poverty reduction. Even more significant is the fact that the poverty reduction target (cutting down extreme poverty to half its 1990 level) and the water access target (halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water) have both been met.

However, the report also shows that these achievements were distributed unequally across regions and within countries. This point was  raised by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the International Conference on Development for All in Timor-Leste on Tuesday (February 26 2013). Mr. Ban established that ”the 1.5 billion people who live in fragile and conflict-affected areas have been largely left behind in our work towards the MDGs”. He followed this statement by establishing that ”Transforming violent conflicts and fragility into peace, justice and shared prosperity must be a central element of the post-2015 development deliberations”.

Mr. Ban’s statement is a reminder of the 2005 UN report ”In Larger Freedom  – Towards Security, Development and Human Rights”. This report shifted the United Nations’ policy focus to the link between development and security, claiming that ”we will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development, and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights”. The claim that security is a precondition for development therefore requires that, as Mr. Ban suggests, the pursuit of security and crisis management should play a larger role in the Millennium Development Goals framework.

This is true more than ever when looking at the current situation in Syria. With approximately 40,000 Syrians fleeing the country each week, Bashar al-Assad’s hostile attitude towards Non Governmental Organisations, and the continued escalation of violence, the situation is developing faster than the United Nations can respond. The volatility of the crisis and its resulting peaks in refugee flows mean that making progress in terms of development is infeasible, leading to a cycle in which conflict and  underdevelopment mutually reinforce each other.

While Mr. Ban’s statement aims to make crisis management a central aspect of the post-2015 development era, it is undeniable that the issue bears enormous significance today. 

Ban Ki-Moon’s statement:


2005 In Larger Freedom report:


2012 Millennium Development Goals report:


Syrian Humanitarian Crisis Stretching UN’s Response Capacity: