Our Perspective

      • 'Neither a producer nor user be': Zambia and cluster munitions | Kanni Wignaraja

        09 Sep 2013

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        A survivor of two cluster bomb accidents in Iraq. Many communities around the world have suffered from the devastation caused by cluster munitions, the use of which Zambia is working to end. (Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti)

        Zambia is familiar with the issue of cluster munitions, a form of explosive weapon that can be air-dropped or ground-launched and releases smaller sub-munitions. Commonly known as cluster bombs, they are designed to kill people, destroy vehicles or buildings and disperse over wide swaths of land. The bombs that remain as unexploded ordnance stay dormant for years, and kill and maim children or farmers clearing forests and fields long after a conflict has ended. A national survey conducted in Zambia between 2006 and 2009 revealed that landmines, which pose similar threats, still existed in six border provinces, and remnants of cluster munitions were found in the western and northwestern regions of the country, a cruel legacy of neighboring conflicts. Cluster bombs are an impediment to development, and costly to locate and remove, a price borne by a country that was never a producer or a user of cluster munitions. This is not a new story, nor is it a Zambia story alone, as many communities around the world have suffered from the devastation caused by cluster munitions, across generations. But the motto “neither a user nor a producer be” accurately defines Zambia’s role as a standard-bearer on the issue, and should Read More

      • Why should companies care about human rights? | Heraldo Muñoz

        06 Sep 2013

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        Businesses must work together with governments and civil society to take protect human rights as they promote economic growth. Above, miners in Brazil. (Photo: Sebastiao Barbosa/UN Photo)

        What led more than 400 representatives of national and multinational companies, governments, trade unions, civil society and indigenous peoples’ organizations to gather to discuss the impact of business on human rights? I asked myself this question as I opened the first Regional Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean on the Business Impact of Human Rights in Medellin, Colombia this August. Hundreds of top executives from the mining, energy, oil, food, beverage, banking/finance and agriculture sectors held an open dialogue with local communities, including campesinos and indigenous peoples, NGOs and public sector officials. Certainly the region has grown in recent years, but investments, especially related to extractive industries and land tenure, tend to spark social conflicts. And that's a challenge we all have to tackle together for truly sustainable development in the economic, social and environmental spheres. The United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) recognizes human rights as a central component of human development. And of course, human development is linked to the universal rights to equality, non-discrimination, participation and accountability. So we convened this forum in partnership with the Government of Colombia and the UN High Commission for Human Rights to provide a regional platform to promote and help implement Read More

      • Employment and social protection for inclusive growth | Selim Jahan

        29 Aug 2013

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        A farmer and his family in India, beneficiaries of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, which has served as an effective social protection programme. (Photo: Samrat Mandal/UNDP India)

        We live in times that seem to be defined by shocks and crises, and these have the potential to slow down, or even reverse, impressive achievements in human development over the years. There is, in fact, evidence that certain human development indicators have suffered setbacks in the context of a crisis. For example, as a result of the Asian crisis of 1997, the poverty rate in the Republic of Korea went from 2.6 percent in 1997 to 7.3 per cent in 1998. Similarly, the poverty rate in Indonesia almost doubled in the same period.   Social protection can be an effective tool for helping people, households and economies to cope with vulnerabilities arising from economic shocks. Countries that had social protection programmes in place were better able to weather the recent economic downturn, and some economies were even able to recover faster. Brazil, for example, was one of the last economies to be hit by the recent crisis and one of the first to begin recovering from it. An important reason was an increase in cash transfers to families, which helped offset the negative effects of the crisis.   But social protection can only go so far unless it is linked Read More

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