A new campaign is afoot to “make poverty history.”

The ONE Campaign, launched at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in May, aims to help deliver the death blow to poverty. The campaign’s Web site, www.one.org, targets Americans and uses celebrity appeal in a call to action.

The campaign relies on the notion that one person, one voice and one vote can make a difference. It also argues that one percent of the U.S. budget would significantly transform the lives of millions in poverty-stricken countries.

The campaign’s Web site allows visitors to do several things.

First, visitors can sign The ONE Declaration, which emphasizes three areas: belief that the United States should join with other countries to deliver justice and compassion to the world’s poor; recognition that fair trade, debt relief, and health and education reforms could transform millions of lives with that one percent budget increase; and commitment by individuals to do their part in making the world better for everyone.

Second, visitors can send an e-mail to President Bush asking him specifically to focus on poverty and urge world leaders at the G8 meeting in Scotland July 6-8 to cancel 100 percent of the debt of the poorest countries and reform trade rules, among other things.

Third, visitors can learn more about Live 8, a series of global concerts on July 2 to fight poverty. According to concert promotions, the event involves “5 concerts, 100 artists, a million spectators, 2 billion viewers, and 1 message,” which is to persuade G8 leaders to commit to fight poverty.

Visitors can also watch The ONE Campaign video, which features a slew of celebrities espousing the campaign’s cause. Celebrities include Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Alfre Woodard, Antonio Banderas, Holly Hunter, Orlando Bloom, Bono, Dennis Hopper, Ellen Degeneres, George Clooney, Jamie Foxx and Pat Robertson.

“Every three seconds, one person dies” say the litany of recognizable voices. “The situation is so desperate in parts of Africa, Asia and even America that aid groups, just as they did for the tsunami, are uniting as one.”

“We’re not asking for your money,” says Oscar-winner Tom Hanks in closing. “We’re asking for your voice.”

Visitors can even order ONE t-shirts and white wristbands.

The ONE Campaign is actually the U.S. arm of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. This worldwide movement wants the year 2005 to be a banner year for fighting poverty. It views the G8—the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia—and its July summit as a pivotal moment in world history.

G8 stands for “Group of Eight” countries and began in 1975. It has a rotating presidency, which belongs to Britain this year. Prime Minister Tony Blair has already fingered Africa and climate change as priorities during his presidential tenure.

“Africa is a wonderful, diverse continent with an extraordinary, energetic and resilient people,” wrote Blair last December. “But it is also plagued with problems so serious that no continent could tackle them on its own.”

G8 finance ministers have already hammered out a plan for international lending institutions to forgive 100 percent of the debt owed by 18 poor countries, according to a BBC story. Poverty campaigners have hailed the decision and called for its extension to other countries needing debt relief.

The ONE Campaign’s Web site lists about two dozen partners, including Bread for the World, DATA, World Vision, American Jewish World Service, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, Heifer International and Sojourners.

DATA, co-founded by U2 front-man Bono, stands for Debt, AIDS, Trade Africa. Bono remains an outspoken leader on the moral obligation of developed countries to help those with fewer resources.

Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.

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