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States Must Not Ignore Human Rights in Efforts to End Poverty

LONDON - Governments risk failing some of the world’s most impoverished and
vulnerable groups unless human rights are put at the centre of efforts
to eradicate poverty, Amnesty International warned today.

In a new report looking at how to strengthen the Millennium
Development Goals [MDGs], the organization highlights how key targets
fall short of existing international human rights standards. The report,
From Promises to Delivery, outlines crucial steps governments can take
to deliver meaningful progress on the MDGs over the next five years.

“The MDGs promised some of the worlds most impoverished and excluded a
fairer future but it is now painfully obvious that unless urgent action
is taken governments will fail the most vulnerable communities,” said
Claudio Cordone, interim Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“The message for world leaders when they come together in September
to review progress on the MDGs is clear:  they must act now to put human
rights at the centre of efforts to improve the lives of those living in

The report calls on governments to ensure all MDG initiatives are
consistent with human rights; address discrimination experienced by
women; set national targets for delivery; fulfill the right of
participation and strengthen mechanisms for accountability.

It was launched today in New York, where representatives from
governments, civil society and the UN are gathering at an Amnesty
International and Realizing Rights conference to discuss the importance
of human rights in achieving the MDGs. 

Three main issues – gender equality, maternal health and slums –are
highlighted in the report to illustrate the gulf between the current
MDGs framework and international human rights standards.

On gender equality the report shows how the MDGs fail to ensure that
governments address women’s human rights across all targets despite it
being an essential element in tackling poverty. Where gender equality is
listed in the MDGs it is limited to a single target to eliminate
disparities in education.

It is estimated that 70 per cent of those living in poverty are
women. The report documents how women and girls continue to suffer from
gender discrimination, violence and further human rights violations in
all societies.

Improving maternal health is an area that has seen far too little
progress according to the report. The MDGs fail to take into account a
variety of underlying factors that contribute to maternal deaths and

Human rights issues such as early or forced marriage, violence
against women and girls prevents women from making decisions about their
own lives.  The MDGs also do not pay sufficient attention to sexual and
reproductive rights. From Peru to Serria Leone, the report illustrates
the barriers women in poverty face when trying to access maternal

The MDG target to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum
dwellers is described as ‘grossly inadequate and weak’ given that an
estimated 1.4 billion people will live in slums by 2020. The target also
falls short of existing obligations on states under international human
rights law.

Amnesty International has documented forced evictions of communities
living in slums in all regions of the world. The effects of these forced
evictions is catastrophic for people who were already living in
poverty. The MDGs ignore the crucial obligations of states to prevent
and protect people from these violations.

From Burkino Faso to the favelas in Brazil, the report show how an
accountability deficit exists which makes it hard for people living in
poverty to access justice. Mechanisms to ensure accountability do not
exist or are inaccessible to people living in poverty.

“Human rights are central to making the MDGs effective,” said Claudio
Cordone. “Governments must be held to account to ensure their efforts
to achieve the MDGs are consistent with human rights.”


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Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.

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