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Senior UN official urges rights-based approach to achieving anti-poverty targets

Senior UN official urges rights-based approach to achieving anti-poverty targets

Louise Arbour
The United Nations human rights chief has called on States to ensure that strategies to achieve the world’s shared anti-poverty goals be grounded in the internationally recognized human rights to which all countries have subscribed.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour made her call in a statement released on Saturday, the mid-point between the adoption in 2000 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the 2015 deadline for achieving them.

She cited sobering statistics on child mortality, saying it remains “deeply troubling” in parts of Africa, while the number of people dying of HIV and AIDS worldwide increased to 2.9 million in 2006. In addition, sub-Saharan Africa is presently not on track to achieve any of the global anti-poverty targets, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), she noted.

“The disturbing midpoint snapshot must serve as a call to action on behalf of us all,” Ms. Arbour said. “Despite progress in some areas and in some parts of the world, it appears that governments are not honouring the commitments they have made.”

Ms. Arbour noted that while high economic growth rates drive overall gains in some regions, “the rising tide doesn’t lift all boats – not everyone is benefiting,” adding that in many cases entire communities and populations are sidelined.

She warned that gross inequalities often not only fuel violent conflict and frustrate the prospects for sustainable development, but frequently constitute a violation of fundamental human rights.

Poverty is frequently a cause, as well as consequence, of human rights violations, she added. “A focus on global average progress glosses over entrenched patterns of discrimination and inequality that can sentence communities to generations of poverty.”

She called for data that is disaggregated to capture disparities and patterns of discrimination, and effective redress for those whose rights are ignored or violated.

Ms. Arbour also stressed that more must be done globally, including increasing international aid and strengthening development partnerships.

“Citizens in developed countries must understand that global injustices are cause for common concern, that development, security and human rights are indeed inextricably linked, and they must pressure their politicians to respond,” she said.