Correspondence with Financial Times


20 December 2014

Proposal for correction: Wrong impression by FT over many years as to Millennium Summit commitments

To: corrections@ft.com

A blog post of 21 August and article of 27 August give examples of a misleading impression that at the Millennium Summit, UN member states committed themselves to development targets with a generally easier baseline than is in fact the case.

The backdated 1990 baseline is in the Millennium Development Goal framework proposed in 2001.  However, it forms no part of General Assembly Resolution 55/2 of 2000, the Millennium Declaration.   World leaders committed to child and maternal mortality reductions from "current rates". 

The specific set of eight "Millennium Development Goals" and targets was proposed by the Secretary-General in September 2001.   In that year and subsequently, some "MDG" targets were proposed which were additional to the leaders' pledges in the 2000 resolution.  For some targets civil servants now proposed 1990 baselines - generally easier than from "current rates" and what was implied by the Secretary-General's recommendation document to the Summit and by a common-sense reading of the Declaration. 

The pledges of 2000 have not been revised or rescinded:  they were "reaffirmed" by the General Assembly in 2005. 

In relation to the specific statements in Financial Times items of August 2014, the MDGs' "baseline of 1990" formed no part of what was "adopted by UN members in 2000".  The MDG targets were not "agreed in 2000".  The symbolic nature of the date 2000 adds to the wrong impression that leaders were committed to the easier targets.

The Financial Times appears to have given a similar impression about the leaders' commitments over a period of many years.   I consider it appropriate for staff to search the archive to verify this.  I propose appropriate remedial action. 


Matt Berkley

...

21 August 2014

http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2014/08/21/the-new-un-development-goals-still-missing-the-point/

"The MDGs, adopted by UN members in 2000

[sic]

 with a baseline in 1990

[sic]

 and a target date of 2015, set eight goals including reductions in extreme poverty..."

 

27 August 2014

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d321500c-2e27-11e4-b760-00144feabdc0.html

"The previous targets, the Millennium Development Goals, were agreed in 2000 with objectives for 2015."

[conflates MDG targets proposed in 2001 with the pledges]

 

17 April 2014

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/23232010-c5d9-11e3-a7d4-00144feabdc0.html

"When the UN in 2000 set a millennium development goal (MDG)

[sic]

 of halving the percentage of humans living in extreme poverty by 2015, it sounded like just pompous verbiage. ...But despite economic crisis, the world hit that target five years early, says the World Bank."

"The eight MDGs adopted in 2000..."

 

14 September 2014

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/bbcd03f6-3a89-11e4-bd08-00144feabdc0.html

"Millennium Development Goals, which have shaped aid policy since 2000

[sic]

and expire in 2015."

[sic - seems to refer to the dated targets rather than the undated goals]

 

"The promises

[sic]

 in question this week are the Millennium Development Goals"

http://blogs.ft.com/mdg/2008/09/23/aid-is-a-leg-up-not-a-hand-out/

 

 

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FT:  No comment.

 

 

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21 January 2015

Reminder: Correction on Millennium Summit commitments

To: corrections@ft.com

 

[appended complaint of 20 December ]

 

 

..................................................................................

 

 

FT:  No comment.

 

 

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28 January 2015

 

Message for Greg Callus. Reminder: Correction on Millennium Summit commitments

To: corrections@ft.com

 

Dear FT staff,

 

Please pass the complaint below to Mr Callus.

 

Thank you.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Matt Berkley

 

[appended complaint of 20 December and reminder of 21 January]

 

 

..........................................................................................................

 

 

FT:  No comment.

 

 

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Fwd: Message for Greg Callus. Reminder: Correction on Millennium Summit commitments

 

28 January 2015

 

To: editor@ft.com, complaints.commissioner@ft.com

 

Dear Mr Barber,

 

I wish to add the following articles to the complaint.

 

I think it is not difficult so see that the difference between the General Assembly pledge in 2000 to reduce child mortality from "current rates" and the 2001 MDG target with a 1990 baseline amounts to several million child deaths.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Matt Berkley

 

 

 

http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2014/11/06/guest-post-the-un-needs-to-overhaul-its-development-vision/

Nov 06 2014

 

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/df2c6ff0-8447-11e4-bae9-00144feabdc0.html

January 2, 2015

 

http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2015/01/15/guest-post-2015-should-be-the-year-of-real-action-on-extreme-poverty-and-climate-change

January 15, 2015

 

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/0e4cd3de-9bfd-11e4-b6cc-00144feabdc0.html

January 15, 2015

 

 

 

 

---------- Forwarded message ----------

 

From: Matt Berkley <mattberkley@gmail.com>

Date: 28 January 2015 at 12:42

Subject: Message for Greg Callus. Reminder: Correction on Millennium Summit commitments

To: corrections@ft.com

.....

 

 

 

.........................................................................................................

 

Re: Message for Greg Callus. Reminder: Correction on Millennium Summit commitments

30 January 2015

Dear Mr Berkley,

The Editor has asked me to acknowledge receipt of your complaint.  He will respond shortly once he has had the chance to look into the matter.

With best regards,

Sally Kennedy

Executive Assistant to Lionel Barber

 

.........................................................................

 

24 February 2015

From: Nigel Hanson

Dear Mr Berkley,

I refer to your complaint emails of 21 and 28 January,

[Misleading - in fact the original request was

which the Editor has considered.

The ‘Millennium Development Goal’ framework of 2001 originated from General Assembly Resolution 55/2 of 2000, the ‘Millennium Declaration’.  Broadly, the MDGs were established by that Resolution, and the aims adopted in 2000 have become widely known simply as the MDGs.

 

Although it might be preferable to be more precise in certain circumstances, in many contexts there is no significant inaccuracy in referring more loosely to the aims adopted in 2000 as the MDGs.  This is a convenient and appropriate ‘shorthand’ with which to summarise the key information in the right context, and bring it to the attention of readers without undue complexity.

We consider you have raised unnecessarily pedantic points in relation to a number of our articles.  We are satisfied that the wording of the following five articles is unobjectionable: the mention of the MDGs in the context of these pieces does not create any significant inaccuracy or misleading impression:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/df2c6ff0-8447-11e4-bae9-00144feabdc0.html

2 January 2015


http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2015/01/15/guest-post-2015-should-be-the-year-of-real-action-on-extreme-poverty-and-climate-change

15 January 2015

 

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/0e4cd3de-9bfd-11e4-b6cc-00144feabdc0.html

15 January 2015

 

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/bbcd03f6-3a89-11e4-bd08-00144feabdc0.html

14 September 2014

 

http://blogs.ft.com/mdg/2008/09/23/aid-is-a-leg-up-not-a-hand-out/

23 September 2008

 

In relation to the following four articles your points are also marginal, but having regard to the particular context we have nevertheless considered it appropriate to amend a few words, as shown below in bold, to ensure sufficient accuracy:


http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2014/08/21/the-new-un-development-goals-still-missing-the-point/

21 August 2014

 ‘…The MDG [DELETED:s] aims, adopted by UN members in 2000 with [DELETED: a baseline in 1990 and] a target date of 2015, [DELETED: set] led to eight goals including reductions in extreme poverty and…'

 

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d321500c-2e27-11e4-b760-00144feabdc0.html

27 August 2014

‘…The previous targets, which led to the Millennium Development Goals, were agreed in 2000 with objectives for 2015.’

 

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/23232010-c5d9-11e3-a7d4-00144feabdc0.html

17 April 2014

‘…The eight MDGs adopted in [DELETED: 2000] 2001 didn’t mention disability, not even in the small print. ….’

 

http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2014/11/06/guest-post-the-un-needs-to-overhaul-its-development-vision/

Nov 06 2014

‘…The conventional wisdom behind the renegotiation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – eight targets for reducing poverty and its attendant woes that[DELETED: were agreed by all] followed a resolution by United Nations members in 2000 – is that there were not enough of them…’

 

Yours sincerely

Nigel Hanson

--

Senior Legal Counsel

Legal Department

 

...............

[end of email from Financial Times legal counsel]



See also:

http://millenniumdeclaration.org/financialtimes.htm