The MPH strategy - put into effect in 2005 - was to mobilize enormous peaceful demonstrations, in coordination with the international movement called "Global Campaign Against Poverty" - and rock concerts - in many nations, to show the world (through media) that this was an international movement to end poverty. The MPH mission was not to send people out into the world's hunger spots to pass out food, or fund food-related charity organizations. The thrust of the movement was to not only call attention to poverty, but to pressure members of the G8 - presidents and prime ministers from Canada, UK, U.S., France, Germany, Russia, Japan and Italy - to forgive debt in developing nations where poverty is the most severe.
The purpose of MPH's effort was also to help reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - with particular attention to the first goal - established in 2002 by the United Nations. Those goals include: eradicating "extreme poverty and hunger"; achieving "universal primary education"; promoting gender equality and empowering women; "reduce child morality"; "improve maternal health"; fight AIDS/HIV, malaria and other diseases; ensure "environmental sustainability"; and "develop a global partnership for development."
In a strategy that would help reach its goal, the MPH concerned itself with creating solidarity with activists involved in peace groups, justice and anti-poverty organizations around the world in a massive show of strength. This, according to the strategy, would put pressure on the G8 meeting (held in July, 2005 in Scotland; the G8 finance ministers met in June, 2005, in London).
According to the literature, on July 1st, 2005, the MPH's organizing efforts resulted in 10,000 people attending the South Asian People's Summit Against Poverty in Delhi; 20,000 gathered in Dublin; thousands rallied in Kenya, in Rio de Janeiro, and in Korea and Ghana, where concerts took place. Writing in the journal International Affairs, Anthony Payne reports that in addition to the pop concerts and rallies, "hundreds of thousands of people" wore white wristbands, symbolic of the campaign against poverty.
What was accomplished? The finance ministers from the G8 nations coaxed the World Bank into writing off $40 billion in debt owed by eighteen poor countries. That might sound like a positive thing, but several journalist are reporting that the efforts to reduce debt for impoverished nations was something of a failure. The G8 leaders did agree to "double aid to all developing countries by around $50 billion a year" (with at least $25 billion earmarked for Africa), Payne writes. And those at the meeting created a working committee to explore "innovative financing mechanisms" that could generate more aid for poor countries.
Tony Blair, then the Prime Minister of the UK (and chairman of the G8 meeting), concluded the session by declaring, "...We do not simply by this communique make poverty history... [but] we do show how it can be done, and we do signify the political will to do it" (Payne). There were those who criticized the MPH movement for creating a "mellow atmosphere" while other mobilizations "had been more confrontational," Payne writes.
Meanwhile, an editorial in the UK journal Lancet raged that despite "impressive rhetoric" the G8 "achieved almost nothing new" when it came to the first MDG (the "eradication of extreme poverty"). And the investment made by the G8 "translates into only an additional $1.5 billion per year in resources for development" (Lancet 2005). Jonathan Glennie, writing in the journal Globalizations, said "waiting for rich countries to act in the interest of the poor..." was a mistake on the part of MPH. The new language should embrace the idea of "an end to injustice," not giving money to poverty-related charities or pressuring the G8 to reduce debt in developing nations.
Baptist, Willie; & Damico, Noelle. (2005). Building the New Freedom Church of the Poor.
Cross Currents, 55(3), 352-262.
Chambers, Clarke a. (2001). Poor People's Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail.
American Historical Review, 83(3), 841-843.
Glennie, Jonathon. (2006). The Myth of Charity: A 2005 Reality Check. Globalizations. 3(2),
Lancet. (2005). Editorial: G8 2005: a missed opportunity for global health. Vol. 365.
Payne, Anthony. (2006). Blair, Brown and the Gleneagles agenda: making poverty…