Our Perspective

      • Chile's 9/11 shows political freedom is crucial for development | Heraldo Muñoz

        11 Sep 2013

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        Portrait of a child taken in the Juan Pablo II camp in Santiago, Chile. Photo: Nicolas Pinto Tironi / UNDP

        Forty years after Chile’s 9/11, when General Augusto Pinochet overthrew democratically elected President Salvador Allende, many people still ask me: Wasn’t he responsible for the economic miracle that made Chile a success story? After the coup in Egypt in July, a Wall Street Journal editorial argued that "Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile's Augusto Pinochet," who, it said, "took power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy." Indeed, Pinochet personified a disturbing contradiction. He won praise for transforming the economy into one of the most prosperous in Latin America. The main problem for Pinochet's apologists was his brutality and corruption. If only he had modernized Chile's economy without assassinating, torturing and exiling tens of thousands of dissidents and getting caught hiding offshore bank accounts. But the groundwork for Pinochet's economic modernization was laid by his predecessors—under democratic rule. Land reform in the 1960s and early '70s allowed the military regime to boost agroindustry and an export-oriented economy. By 1970 the illiteracy rate was below 10 percent, malnutrition and infant mortality had been declining for decades and Chile had several solid state institutions. The return Read More

      • '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

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