Saturday, February 11, 2006

1. The impact of poverty, hunger and disease

The following summarises the impact of poverty, hunger and disease on global mortality:

• 22 million people died of preventable diseases in 2001 , i.e., 60,273 people died a day.

• 33,000 children die a day from preventable disease and malnutrition.

• 2.8 billion people suffer from poverty, ill health, illiteracy and other maladies .

• 27 times more people die from poverty than war .

UN Commission on Human Security May 2003

To address this issue the global community has had conferences, set up international days and decades to eradicate poverty and created deadlines.

In September 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, world leaders agreed to a set of timebound measurable goals and targets for combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women by 2015. These formed the heart of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

However, the Millennium Development Goals are a bit of a repeat to the 1960s and 1970s. The first United Nations Development Decade was 1960-1970. This was followed by the second United Nations Development Decade (1970-1980) .

In 1970 the UN General Assembly made the following resolution: "Each economically advanced country should endeavour to provide by 1972 annually to developing countries financial resource transfers of a minimum net amount of 1 per cent of its gross national product at market prices in terms of actual disbursements, having regard to the special position of those countries which are net importers of capital...Those developed countries which are unable to achieve this target by 1972 will endeavour to attain it no later than 1975 (Item 42)."
Resolution 2626 (XXV). General Assembly 25th . 24 October 1970.

As you can see the difference between the current war on poverty is there has been a drop in aid committment from 1% of GDP to 0.7% and an increase in time to reach this target from two years (i.e. 1970-1972) to 15 years (2000-2015). So don't be too optimistic on these goals being achieved without enormous pressure on business and governments.

By the way the third development decade was called ironically the ‘First’ United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty 1997-2006 .

Human rights, poverty, food and health

The UN Declaration of Human Rights (1948) regards food and health care as a basic human right. For example, article 25 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states "(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services..."

In 1966 the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights clearly recognises freedom from hunger is a human right. Article 11 no. 2 of this covenant states: “The States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually and through international co-operation, the measures, including specific programmes, which are needed” .
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Dot point 4. Using the figures from the UN Commission on Human Security divide the number of people who died from poverty with those killed by violence.


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