UNITED NATIONS — The UN Commission for Social Development wrapped up its 44th session Feb. 17 after reviewing poverty eradication efforts over the past decade, reaffirming the Millennium Development goals and urging all countries to adopt plans to fulfill them, especially the overriding goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

Many of the participating nations spoke against neoliberal trade agreements, saying that they stood in the way of poverty reduction.

“The international financial bodies demand indiscriminate cuts to the developing countries’ social programs,” said Ileana Nuñez Mordoche, representing Cuba, “while they guarantee a flow of $500 billion a year from the South to northern coffers.”

Cuba emphasized integration and cooperation, but not in the “neoliberal conception,” which “only guarantees profits for the huge multinationals.”

Vusi Madonsela of South Africa emphasized the importance of a commitment by the richest countries to devote 0.7 percent of their GDP to development — something the U.S. has failed to do.

Representing China, Zhang Yishan said that while some of the reasons for the poverty of developing nations were domestic, it is “also closely related to the unjust and inequitable world social order.” He also said wars pose a major obstacle, noting that “peace and stability are prerequisites for the eradication of poverty.”