Sept. 22, 2004 – The US refused to sign a UN declaration to fight hunger and poverty because part of the discussion surrounding the statement called for levying a global tax on financial transactions as well as arms sales. The declaration was signed by 110 heads of state and was the result of a meeting of leaders from 50 nations on Monday ahead of the 59th UN General Assembly. The declaration followed the release of a UN study that found that over one billion people in the world live on less than $1 per day.
President George W. Bush, who was invited to participate, did not attend World Leaders Summit on Hunger, which was organized by Brazilian President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva, France's President Jacques Chirac, Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez and Chilean President Ricardo Lagos. Attendees of the meeting agreed that an additional $50 billion a year was needed to implement anti-poverty measures and that other measures, such as a global tax, were needed to more aggressively fight poverty.
"How many more times will it be necessary to repeat that the most destructive weapon of mass destruction in the world today is poverty?'' asked Lula. "We must harness globalization. We must turn it into a positive force for all peoples of the world."
The tax proposal was only one point of discussion, but Agriculture Secretary Ann Venemen, who spoke in Bush's place, called the proposal "inherently undemocratic."
In response, Chirac said: "However strong the Americans may be, in the long term, you cannot successfully oppose a position taken by 110 countries. You can't oppose that forever."