IMAGE: British PM Gordon Brown
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British Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks to reporters Tuesday after delivering an address at U.N. headquarters in New York.
updated 7/31/2007 8:01:45 PM ET 2007-08-01T00:01:45

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown moved to build new international alliances for a fight against global poverty Tuesday, pressing nations, businesses and individuals to back ambitious plans to revive a stalled global development plan.

“It’s time to call it what it is, a development emergency which needs emergency action,” Brown said in a speech at the United Nations. He pressed an audience of business leaders, non-governmental organizations and international delegates over failures in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

Brown said he had won support from 12 world leaders and 20 leading businesses, including Microsoft Corp., Google Inc. and Wal-Mart, to back his drive toward meeting the goals.

Achieving the standards would help the international community “eradicate the great evils of our time: illiteracy, disease, poverty, environmental degradation, underdevelopment,” Brown said.

His call for a push on aid and diplomacy followed a two-day summit with President Bush, where the new British leader pledged support for military action in Iraq and Afghanistan and tough measures to tackle terrorism.

Balancing ‘hard power and soft power’
British officials have insisted Brown’s foreign policy will be marked by his desire to mix the use of force and sanctions with backing for development and economic aid programs. Brown has called it a balance of “hard power and soft power.”

His attempts to lead the international community in efforts to break an impasse on stalled world trade negotiations and on halting violence in Sudan’s Darfur region are read by some as a bid to atone for predecessor Tony Blair’s unpopular backing for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Officials said Brown hopes to harness the popular global support won by campaigns such as Make Poverty History and Live Earth to support his development drive.

A report card published earlier this month showed that progress toward achieving the benchmarks on reducing global poverty and increasing access to childcare and education, agreed to at a U.N. summit in 2000, was poor, Brown’s aides said.

“We are off track on some of the goals,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “Some say we will not make it, I say we still can.”

Ban insisted the “goalposts cannot be moved,” on meeting the targets by 2015.

A failure to meet the objectives would leave current world leaders “remembered as the generation that betrayed promises rather than honored them,” Brown said in his speech.

Brown has held talks with U2 singer and anti-poverty campaigner Bono about the goals and plans to enlist businesses to help governments achieve the development goals, British officials said.

‘Greatest coalition of conscience’
The prime minister’s plan to corral industry, government, individuals and religious organizations would “summon into existence the greatest coalition of conscience in pursuit of the greatest of causes,” he said.

Brown compared the plan to President Kennedy’s 1960 call for a new international Peace Corps.

European leaders and heads of state from India, Japan, Ghana and Brazil are backing the project, Brown’s office said.

President Bush was expected to give his consent later Tuesday after Brown outlined the plan during the weekend summit.

World leaders will meet for emergency talks on the development goals next year to discuss progress.

Darfur on the agenda
Brown also was hoping to win a first foreign policy success, with U.N. security council members expected to vote on a joint British-French resolution on Darfur within 24 hours.

The resolution calls for a hybrid U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force to begin deploying by October in an attempt to halt the fighting between ethnic African rebels and the pro-government janjaweed Arab militia in the western Sudanese region, and for peace talks to begin in Tanzania on Friday.

“It’s no a slam-dunk, or in the bag, but we hope it will be voted on Tuesday afternoon,” said a British official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.

In his speech, Brown warned he would back new sanctions against the Sudanese government, if efforts to halt bloodshed in Darfur failed.

Former President Clinton held brief discussions with the British leader at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Monday evening about his U.N. speech and work to helping developing nations, Brown told reporters.

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