Globalisation is failing world's 700m poorest people, says UN

The economic benefits of globalisation are not filtering down to the most disadvantaged, and 700 million people in 50 of the world's poorest countries are being forced to choose between migration or poverty, senior UN officials have said.

The plight of the least developed countries was highlighted at the annual meeting of the Economic and Social Council in New York yesterday.

Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said that it was "vital to support and strengthen local markets and communities" in the least developed countries (LDCs) so that people could live and work where they are, instead of being forced to migrate in search of greater opportunity.

The ILO chief pointed to studies indicating that the advantages of globalisation were not reaching the most vulnerable; so jeopardizing the Millennium Development Goals, a series of antipoverty targets set at a UN summit in 2000.

A recent UN report estimated that if current trends continued, the number of people living in poverty in the weakest economies will rise from 334 million in 2000 to 471 million in 2015.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette urged wealthy nations to eliminate or at least reduce "the crippling effect" of agricultural subsidies on the world's poorest and least developed nations.

"Giving with one hand will not work as long as the world takes away with the other - and that is exactly what is happening with quotas, subsidies and tariffs that stunt growth in poor countries and stifle their ability to trade," she said.

Ms Fréchette also said that poor States were also "suffering badly from massive debt burdens", and invited creditor countries to consider forgiving the debts of the poorest nations.

But for poor countries, she said, they "must spare no effort to strengthen the efficiency, transparency and accountability of governance", and invest more in health, education and infrastructure.

Rubens Ricupero, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, also voiced concern that economic assistance to the poorest States has become increasingly devoted to human and social needs instead of building the countries' infrastructure and means of economic development.

Mathieu Kérékou, the President of Benin, which holds the presidency of the coordinating bureau of the least developed countries (LDCs), said they were tired of donor nations and organizations not matching promises of increased support with deeds.

Calling for "real political will", Mr Kérékou said wealthy nations continued to harm poor States by subsidising their exports and by failing to increase development aid as pledged.


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