Our Perspective

      • A Visionary for a Better Tomorrow - Celebrating Nelson Mandela | Helen Clark

        18 Jul 2012

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        Nelson Mandela addresses the Special Committee Against Apartheid in the General Assembly Hall. UN Photo/P. Sudhakaran

        Nelson Mandela International Day is an occasion for us all to celebrate the vision of this extraordinary man for freedom, peace and justice; his service to humanity; and the hope for a better tomorrow which he represents to this day. Many in my generation in my country were inspired by Nelson Mandela’s vision, and were appalled and disgusted by the apartheid system in South Africa which grossly discriminated against people on the grounds of race. Dismantling that system and building a new free and democratic South Africa is the cause to which Mr. Mandela has devoted his life. In faraway New Zealand, the struggle for freedom in South Africa divided our small nation for many years. The major link between the two countries was rugby football, with the two national teams usually considered the best in the world. But South Africa’s team had a fundamental flaw – it was racially selected. In New Zealand, Maori players had long been prominent at all levels of the game. Yet up to and including the All Black tour of South Africa in 1960, Maori players were left at home when the All Blacks played there. A citizens’ movement to oppose that injustice and eventually Read More

      • South Sudan: Reflections on one year after independence | Lise Grande

        11 Jul 2012

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        Computer training programme for women in South Sudan. Photo: UNDP South Sudan.

        This has been an impressive year, but a difficult one. Let’s first recognize South Sudan’s achievements. South Sudanese are building their country from scratch. During the six-year Comprehensive Peace Agreement period, South Sudanese made huge progress. Nowhere else have so few people working from such a low base done so much. 29 ministries, 21 commissions, ten state governments, a national parliament and ten state legislatures were established. More than two million people returned to South Sudan, the number of children attending primary school tripled, measles was reduced from epidemic levels and 6,000 kilometers of roads were opened, connecting major cities and towns. Despite this progress, the state building exercise facing South Sudan is the largest of this generation. The human development indicators are amongst the worst in the world, with 80 percent of the population living on the equivalent of less than 1 USD a day. 4.7 million people are estimated to be food insecure this year. Less than half of the civil servants have the qualifications needed for their post. Much more needs to be done to ensure that proposed measures of accountability and transparency deter any mismanagement of public resources. During this first year of statehood, the UN agencies Read More

      • Renewing commitments for Afghanistan’s sustainable development | Rebeca Grynspan

        10 Jul 2012

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        Today, more than 20 percent of public civil servants in Afghanistan are women, and girls make up 34 percent of the seven million children in school. Photo: UNDP

        The international community and the Government of Afghanistan have just agreed on how to engage further in Afghanistan. This was a crucial outcome at a conference I recently took part in, gathering representatives from over 70 countries, civil society and international organizations in Tokyo on 8 July. Participants decided to renew and monitor mutual commitments for Afghanistan’s long-term social and economic development by pledging US$16 billion in aid through 2015, with the Afghan Government pledging to tackle corruption resolutely. This is a vital boost as Afghanistan continues its path towards assuming full responsibility for its future—including its security, governance and development. The country has made huge strides comparing to its own recent past, when girls did not go to school at all, few boys got past third grade and incomes were at the bottom rungs of international subsistence levels.  Afghanistan has experienced a four-fold improvement in the number of expected years of schooling and per capita income tripled in the past 10 years. Women have seen advancements. Today, more than 20 percent of public civil servants are women, and girls make up 34 percent of the seven million children in school. From 2000-2011, adolescent fertility rates decreased 40 percent and maternal Read More

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