Archive for October 17th, 2012


A World Day Also for the Poor: ‘End the Violence of Extreme Poverty’ … Please!

Human Wrongs Watch

With inequalities growing dramatically both within and between countries over the last 10 years, the UN marked the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October. This year’s theme, ‘Ending the Violence of Extreme Poverty: Promoting Empowerment and Building Peace,’ highlights the link between poverty and social unrest. Meanwhile, more than one billion people live in extreme poverty, living on less than $1 a day.

A woman and her children collect firewood and paper for baking bread in Ezbet Abd Rabbo, Gaza. Photo: Shareef Sarhan

“Poverty is easy to denounce but difficult to combat,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day. “Those suffering from hunger, want and indignity need more than sympathetic words; they need concrete support.”

Ban stressed that during times of economic austerity it is even more crucial to put policies in place that will protect the most vulnerable.

“As governments struggle to balance budgets, funding for anti-poverty measures is under threat. But this is precisely the time to provide the poor with access to social services, income security, decent work and social protection,” he said.

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‘One Dollar Invested in Youth Skills Can Pay Back Fifteen-fold in Economic Growth’ – UN

Human Wrongs Watch

Just as new data reveal that aid decreased for the first time in 2011, the tenth Education for All Global Monitoring Report shows that every $1 invested in education and youth skills in developing countries generates $10-$15 in economic growth, according to a UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report*.

© UNESCO/Jon Yamamoto – A young employee working at a family-owned bakery in Paris, France

“Around 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all students in poor countries had basic reading skills. The need for investing in these skills is just as urgent in rich countries. In some European nations, one in five young people drop out before reaching upper secondary school.”

The 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report calls on donors to sustain support to education to ensure that it prepares young people adequately for work. The Report calculates that it would cost $8 billion – less than half the cost of the 2012 Olympic Games – to send all young people to lower secondary school in poor countries to learn vital skills for work, UNESCO adds.

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EU in Crisis? But It Is a Major Arms Exporter!

Human Wrongs Watch

In the period 2007-2011, the United States was the largest exporter of major conventional weapons, accounting for 30 per cent of the volume of exports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)*.

**Baroness Ashton of Upholland, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy | Photo: World Economic Forum

“However, in the same period, EU member states’ combined exports from the EU area made up 32 per cent of the volume of global exports of major conventional weapons.”

Six of the top 10 exporters in the period were EU member states: Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy, according to according to SIPRI’s recent Data on the European Union.

Arms Production

Of the top 100 arms-producing and military services companies in 2010 (ranked by arms sales in 2010 and excluding China), 27 had their headquarters in an EU member state and one, EADS, was trans-European, SIPRI reports.

Military Expenditure

The combined military spending of the EU member states in 2011 was $293 billion in current US dollars, it adds

“Spending by the EU has gradually declined since its post cold-war peak in 2009: $294 billion (constant 2010 dollars) in 2009, $279 billion (constant 2010 dollars) in 2010, and $271 billion (constant 2010 dollars) in 2011.”

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Bangladesh: ‘Tanneries Harm Workers, Poison Communities’ – Report

Workers in many leather tanneries in the Hazaribagh neighborhood of Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital,  including children as young as 11, become ill because of exposure to hazardous chemicals and are injured in horrific workplace accidents, Human Rights Watch said in a report.

**© 2012 Arantxa Cedillo for Human Rights Watch

“The tanneries, which export hundreds of millions of dollars in leather for luxury goods throughout the world, spew pollutants into surrounding communities.”

The 101-page report, “Toxic Tanneries: The Health Repercussions of Bangladesh’s Hazaribagh Leather,” documents an occupational health and safety crisis among tannery workers, both men and women, including skin diseases and respiratory illnesses caused by exposure to tanning chemicals, and limb amputations caused by accidents in dangerous tannery machinery.

“Residents of Hazaribagh slums complain of illnesses such as fevers, skin diseases, respiratory problems, and diarrhea, caused by the extreme tannery pollution of air, water, and soil. The government has not protected the right to health of the workers and residents, has consistently failed to enforce labor or environmental laws in Hazaribagh, and has ignored High Court orders to clean up these tanneries.”

“Hazaribagh’s tanneries flood the environment with harmful chemicals,” said Richard Pearshouse, senior researcher in the health and human rights division of Human Rights Watch. “While the government takes a hands-off approach, local residents fall sick and workers suffer daily from their exposure to harmful tannery chemicals.”

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‘Cooperatives Movement Suits Women and Crisis’ – Research

Human Wrongs Watch

Special Report by EurActiv*, 17 October – Working in cooperatives is better for women’s chances of promotion, work- life balance, professional development and pay, according to research unveiled yesterday (16 October) in Brussels.

Boardroom voice – in the coop |  EurActiv

The findings come on the heels of a report published in the summer (26 June), which claimed that cooperatives also offer the most resilient form of organisational structure in the face of the economic crisis stifling Europe.

Representatives from Italian, French and Spanish cooperatives – usually classed as SMEs because they employ fewer workers than large companies – presented survey findings to a seminar held in conjunction with European SME week, which has taken female employment as one of its themes this year.

Giving results from research conducted by the French cooperative organisation, CGS Coop, Catherine Friedrich said that three-quarters of respondents to the survey had indicated that they were content with their promotion opportunities within cooperatives.

She said that the findings were especially significant because cooperatives are generally too small to fall under French rules requiring larger companies to ensure that women receive equal promotional treatment.

Almost the same number (72% of respondents) said that there was no difference between pay levels for men and women within their workplaces.

“Although 20% recorded that there were differences on the payscale, the result must be put in the context of the French average, in which men receive salaries 9% higher than women for equivalent labour across the board,” Friedrich said.

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World Food Day – Economic Crises, Climatic Shocks, High Prices…Voracious Consumption

Human Wrongs Watch

Amid economic crises, climatic shocks, and high and volatile food prices in a world of plenty where nearly 870 million people still go hungry, the UN on 16 October marked World Food Day by highlighting agricultural cooperatives as vital weapon in the war on poverty and hunger.

**Image: Photo: World Bank/Julio Pantoja | Source: UN News Centre

Owned by their members, they can generate employment, alleviate poverty, and empower poor and marginalized groups in rural areas, especially women, to drive their own destinies,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message, stressing that the number of people still going hungry is unacceptable in a world where every person would have enough to eat if food were distributed properly.

“As enterprises with a social conscience, cooperatives have also proven to be an effective vehicle for social inclusion, promoting gender equality and encouraging the involvement of youth in agriculture.”

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