Clegg dons statesman cap for UN summit

by Peter Wozniak

Nick Clegg is to fly to New York to represent Britain at the UN meeting on the Millenium Development Goals, 24 hours after his speech to Lib Dems at their conference.

In his first appearance representing the UK at a major international event, the deputy prime minister will emphasise the UK’s commitment to international development and urge rich countries to do more to fulfil the goals promised in 2000.

Mr Clegg will argue that Britain has taken a lead on the provision of aid amongst rich countries, and will point to the coalition government’s commitment to ring-fence international development from spending cuts and increase the share of GDP spent on aid the UN goal of 0.7%.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown, also in New York, has stated that he is “angry” the lack of progress on the goals, specifically that of providing universal access to primary education.

The UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon has expressed optimism that the Millenium Development goals can still be achieved by the deadline of 2015, though he argued that more political will was needed.

“We should not balance budgets on the backs of the poor. We must not draw back from official developmental assistance, a lifeline of billions for billions”, he said.

Analysts fear that in the wake of the global recession, countries are reluctant to take the necessary action to achieve the ambitious goals set out a decade ago.