UK Politics

David Cameron calls on UN to end 'extreme poverty'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDavid Cameron: "It's important we look at the things that keep countries poor.

David Cameron has told a UN meeting in Liberia that "eradicating extreme poverty" should be the focus of a new set of international development goals.

The British PM was co-chair of the panel, which met on Friday to discuss new targets to replace the millennium development goals which expire in 2015.

Mr Cameron said the UN must focus on ending poverty factors, including "corruption [and] lack of justice".

If agreed later this year, the new pledges will run until 2030.

Mr Cameron - who chaired the high-level panel jointly with Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Indonesia's Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - said the north African country had been "absolutely devastated by conflict and civil war".

But he insisted more than just financial aid was required to lift countries in a similar situation out of poverty.

'Rule of law'

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Cameron said: "[Liberia] is now recovering but there is still desperate poverty... one in 10 children do not make it to the age of five.

"It is important we look at those things that keep countries poor. Conflict, corruption, lack of justice, lack of the rule of law. These things matter as well as money."

During the press conference, the Prime Minister was also forced to defend his commitment to dedicate 0.7% of British gross domestic product to foreign aid.

Mr Cameron has pledged to protect the international development budget but conceded on Thursday that the UK defence budget could be cut further in 2015-16.

He said: "I am proud of the fact that Britain has kept its promises. We will achieve 0.7% of our gross national income in aid as promised. And I am proud to be the PM who has helped deliver that."

The GDP commitment has yet to be enshrined in law.

UN goals

The millennium development goals, designed to be completed by 2015, are pledges by UN member countries to increase living standards in poorer parts of the world.

The first of the targets - halving poverty among some of the very poorest - has been achieved, due largely to big increases in income in recent years in China and India. But attempts to reach other goals have been less successful.

Mr Cameron was selected by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as joint chair the meeting. The next set of UN goals will be drafted with input from charities and advocacy groups.

More than 60 groups were in the Liberian capital Monrovia - where the meeting took place - to air their views.

Earlier, Mr Cameron visited the Anna F Whisnant elementary school with President Sirleaf.

He said many of the children he spoke to in the playground "wanted to be doctors, lawyers and even government ministers.

"If you ask children in the UK, all they want to be is pop stars and footballers," he joked.

The next meeting will be in Indonesia. followed by a final gathering in New York in May - where the findings will be presented to Ban Ki Moon.

More on this story