A Global Challenge
01 August 2005

We the peoples of the United Nations determined...to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,’ begins the UN Charter. These words of 60 years ago are at once a declaration and a reminder that the global fight against poverty and social injustice remains the responsibility of every one of us.

On the eve of September’s ministerial summit to review progress on the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), this responsibility is again in the spotlight. Indeed, these last few months have seen a renewed intensity in the debate on global poverty and welcome moves are now being made by governments across the world to make firm commitments on debt relief and aid provision. Genuine progress on trade justice, however, is yet to materialize.

Ringing in my ears are the first three words of that declaration: ‘We the peoples...’
In a sense, the Charter is a declaration of will. What the MDGs ask us to do is glimpse the possible. The people featured in the following pages are transforming that vision of the possible into reality: the women of Creators of Peace, standing up and speaking out; the volunteers of Deep Griha; the youth workers of Tower Hamlets, London.

The valuable work of these individuals provides us with useful insights into how to meet the diverse challenges that communities are facing in today’s world. Their work challenges us to give form and purpose to our good intentions—intentions that may often, if you’re anything like me, never amount to anything more. Understanding how to play our part can often be the biggest hurdle to assuming the responsibility that we share. Is it joining a march? Is it taking the time to find out more about these issues? Is it delving into our pockets to make a donation? Is it building relationships in a fractured community? Maybe it is all these. What lies at the heart of the matter is the recognition that we can no longer afford to sit by in indifference. Less a call to arms then, more a realization that we already bear them: now is the time to use them.

Mark Perera