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UN independent expert warns economic growth in Mongolia is not benefiting the poor

Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Magdalena Sepúlveda.
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Magdalena Sepúlveda.

UN independent expert warns economic growth in Mongolia is not benefiting the poor

While the Mongolian economy has experienced continued growth, this has not benefited the country’s poor, a United Nations independent expert warned today, urging the Government to adopt poverty reduction strategies based on human rights approaches.

“While some parts of the country are being transformed, poverty remains very high and is becoming entrenched not only in rural areas but also in urban centres as the income gap widens and inequality increases” said the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda, following a visit to the Central Asian country.

She added, “The fact that poverty levels remain high and there are increasing inequalities is a clear demonstration that the benefits of economic growth have not trickled down to the poor.”

Ms. Sepúlveda expressed concern about the challenges faced by vulnerable groups affected by poverty and social exclusion in Mongolia, such as women, children, persons with disabilities, older persons, migrants, herders and nomadic communities; ethnic minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; persons living with HIV/AIDS, and stateless persons.

During her five-day visit, Ms. Sepúlveda met with senior Government officials, donor agencies, international organizations, financial institutions, civil society and communities living in poverty both within the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and surrounding districts, as well as Erden soum in the Tuv province.

The Special Rapporteur urged the Government to immediately address the critical needs of the poorest and most marginalized, ensuring that their rights are protected and they are provided with adequate resources and access to basic services.

“I have found that, for the most part, Mongolia has established a robust legal framework, recognizing that everyone must enjoy the rights to education, health, housing, food, etc. –however, the laws do not necessarily translate into the everyday reality for many Mongolians,” she said, stressing that “there are severe implementation gaps in almost all social policies, ranging from domestic violence to trafficking.”

Accountability mechanisms to monitor the implementation and progress of poverty reduction strategies will be necessary, Ms. Sepúlveda noted.

“Mongolia must foresee the necessary budgetary implications and ensure sustainability in the long term and implement the strategy with strong cross-sectorial coordination through the leadership of a designated ministry,” she said. “Those living in poverty in Mongolia can wait no longer.”

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work. Ms. Sepúlveda is scheduled to report her findings during this visit to the Council in June 2013.