Millennium Development Goals Are Failing World's Poorest People

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World leaders are meeting next week at a United Nations Summit in New York to review progress made to alleviate poverty around the world since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set a little over a decade ago.  Unfortunately, the MDGs are failing the world’s poorest people because governments are ignoring and abusing human rights.

More than a billion people living in slums are not even included in MDG efforts because the MDG target on slums only commits to improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers.

Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, will be leading Amnesty’s delegation to the summit.  He said:

“Unless world leaders agree to take urgent steps to uphold the human rights of people living in poverty, the poorest and most disadvantaged people around the world will continue to be left out of the MDGs.

“But language alone is not enough, people must be able to hold governments accountable when they fail to uphold human rights. They should be able to challenge corruption or neglect through courts and regulatory bodies to ensure governments actually fulfil their obligations.”

An estimated 70 per cent of those living in poverty are women. Yet MDG efforts in many countries fail to address the wide-spread discrimination women face in accessing food, water, sanitation and housing, while discriminatory policies, laws and practices that underpin gender-based violence and undermine progress on all the MDGs, have been left to fester.

Kenya is one country whose policies have ignored the needs of women living in slums © Amnesty International

Many states are carrying out mass forced evictions that drive slum dwellers even deeper into poverty and violate their right to housing.

For example, in just one city in Nigeria over 200,000 people are currently facing eviction because the authorities plan to demolish more than 40 informal settlements in Port Harcourt’s waterfront area. Thousands will lose their livelihoods as well as their homes if the demolitions go ahead.

Kenya is an example of another country whose policies have ignored the needs of women living in slums while trying to meet its MDG targets. Women living in slums risk being attacked when trying to use communal toilets, particularly after dark. The lack of effective policing to prevent, investigate and punish gender-based violence or provide an effective remedy to women and girls, means violence against women goes largely unpunished.

Another case is Nicaragua, which despite committing to the MDG target on improving maternal health, has outlawed abortion in all circumstances. The overwhelming majority of pregnancies as a result of rape or incest are amongst girls aged between 10 and 14, whose health and life are put at risk by unsafe abortions or by having to give birth at an early age.

But effective mechanisms to hold governments accountable can strengthen MDG efforts. In 2001 the Indian Supreme Court ruled that a programme to provide mid-day school meals must meet minimum quality standards and be available to all school children. Since then an estimated additional 350,000 girls are enrolling in school every year because of the increased availability of meals.

A global promise to tackle poverty cannot leave the poorest and most vulnerable people behind.

But that is what is happening – and will continue to happen – unless world leaders commit to take the action necessary to achieve real change, and to uphold the human rights of the poor. This Summit is the last chance; failure here and now all but guarantees failure in 2015.

Work on the MDGs is part of Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity campaign, which aims to end the human rights violations that drive and deepen global poverty.

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4 thoughts on “Millennium Development Goals Are Failing World's Poorest People

  1. Where is the statistical correlation for your assertion that MDG and human rights are related? There is none.

    Using Sri Lanka's example where due to a brutal 30-year terrorist campaign, human rights were regularly and necessarily abused in winning that war, we can easily disprove AI's absurd assertion.

    Sri Lanka's MDG are on track and this was all achieved during wartime conditions, with the country being regularly assailed by human rights organisations. Don't take my word for it, read the UN's own report here by Transparency International: http://www.tisrilanka.org/?p=6163

    – Lowest maternal mortality rate in South East Asia,
    – Universal primary education target achieved,
    – Lanka has reduced child mortality rate.

    "Sri Lanka is in the forefront of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agenda. It has already achieved several MDGs, especially in the health and education sectors. Sri Lanka has also made great strides in poverty alleviation, child and maternal mortality rates and gender equality. Sri Lanka is on track to achieve the targets for most of the indicators by 2015, the Second Millennium Development Goals Progress Report said.

    "… Sri Lanka has the lowest maternal mortality rate (MMR) in South East Asia …Sri Lanka has been extraordinarily successful in reducing the child mortality rate over the last half century. At its current level of 11.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, IMR is lower than that achieved by countries considerably wealthier than Sri Lanka."

    AI has to beat the HR drum to stay in business, but you should at the least employ a fact checker or you'll continue to embarrass yourself.

  2. Where is the statistical correlation for your assertion that MDG and human rights are related? There is none.

    Using Sri Lanka's example where due to a brutal 30-year terrorist campaign, human rights were regularly and necessarily abused in winning that war, we can easily disprove AI's absurd assertion.

    Sri Lanka's MDG are on track and this was all achieved during wartime conditions, with the country being regularly assailed by human rights organisations. Don't take my word for it, read the UN's own report here by Transparency International: http://www.tisrilanka.org/?p=6163

    – Lowest maternal mortality rate in South East Asia,
    – Universal primary education target achieved,
    – Lanka has reduced child mortality rate.

    "Sri Lanka is in the forefront of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agenda. It has already achieved several MDGs, especially in the health and education sectors. Sri Lanka has also made great strides in poverty alleviation, child and maternal mortality rates and gender equality. Sri Lanka is on track to achieve the targets for most of the indicators by 2015, the Second Millennium Development Goals Progress Report said.

    "… Sri Lanka has the lowest maternal mortality rate (MMR) in South East Asia …Sri Lanka has been extraordinarily successful in reducing the child mortality rate over the last half century. At its current level of 11.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, IMR is lower than that achieved by countries considerably wealthier than Sri Lanka."

    AI has to beat the HR drum to stay in business, but you should at the least employ a fact checker or you'll continue to embarrass yourself.

  3. Where is the statistical correlation for your assertion that MDG and human rights are related? There is none.

    Using Sri Lanka's example where due to a brutal 30-year terrorist campaign, human rights were regularly and necessarily abused in winning that war, we can easily disprove AI's absurd assertion.

    Sri Lanka's MDG are on track and this was all achieved during wartime conditions, with the country being regularly assailed by human rights organisations. Don't take my word for it, read the UN's own report here by Transparency International: http://www.tisrilanka.org/?p=6163

    – Lowest maternal mortality rate in South East Asia,
    – Universal primary education target achieved,
    – Lanka has reduced child mortality rate.

    "Sri Lanka is in the forefront of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agenda. It has already achieved several MDGs, especially in the health and education sectors. Sri Lanka has also made great strides in poverty alleviation, child and maternal mortality rates and gender equality. Sri Lanka is on track to achieve the targets for most of the indicators by 2015, the Second Millennium Development Goals Progress Report said.

    "… Sri Lanka has the lowest maternal mortality rate (MMR) in South East Asia …Sri Lanka has been extraordinarily successful in reducing the child mortality rate over the last half century. At its current level of 11.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, IMR is lower than that achieved by countries considerably wealthier than Sri Lanka."

    AI has to beat the HR drum to stay in business, but you should at the least employ a fact checker or you'll continue to embarrass yourself.

  4. Where is the statistical correlation for your assertion that MDG and human rights are related? There is none.

    Using Sri Lanka’s example where due to a brutal 30-year terrorist campaign, human rights were regularly and necessarily abused in winning that war, we can easily disprove AI’s absurd assertion.

    Sri Lanka’s MDG are on track and this was all achieved during wartime conditions, with the country being regularly assailed by human rights organisations. Don’t take my word for it, read the UN’s own report here by Transparency International: http://www.tisrilanka.org/?p=6163

    – Lowest maternal mortality rate in South East Asia,
    – Universal primary education target achieved,
    – Lanka has reduced child mortality rate.

    “Sri Lanka is in the forefront of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agenda. It has already achieved several MDGs, especially in the health and education sectors. Sri Lanka has also made great strides in poverty alleviation, child and maternal mortality rates and gender equality. Sri Lanka is on track to achieve the targets for most of the indicators by 2015, the Second Millennium Development Goals Progress Report said.

    “… Sri Lanka has the lowest maternal mortality rate (MMR) in South East Asia …Sri Lanka has been extraordinarily successful in reducing the child mortality rate over the last half century. At its current level of 11.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, IMR is lower than that achieved by countries considerably wealthier than Sri Lanka.”

    AI has to beat the HR drum to stay in business, but you should at the least employ a fact checker or you’ll continue to embarrass yourself.