Growing inequality with and among countries a concern to Guyana

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Guyana's Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett chairs the High Level Session of the UN General Assembly Thematic Debate Inequality. [UN Photo/Rick Bajornas]

The Government of Guyana was concerned with the challenge posed by growing inequality both within and among countries and the implications of this phenomenon for the promotion of human development.

That's what Guyana's Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodriguez- Birkett told the UN General Assembly as it held a thematic debate on "Inequality".

She explained that the concept of a new global human order was first advocated by the late Guyanese President Dr. Cheddi Jagan to the agenda of the General Assembly.

“At its core, the new global human order represents a call for concerted multilateral action to reverse the persistent and considerable disparities between rich and poor, within as well as among countries, and to advance a people-centred development agenda. The pursuit of this objective entails, among other elements, the promotion of growth with equity, the eradication of poverty, the expansion of productive employment and decent work, the promotion of gender equality and social integration, as well as the social and economic welfare of people. Such a focus finds echo in the Millennium Development Goals.”

Foreign Minister Rodriguez-Birkett says it remains pertinent as we look to the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015, where the importance of considered attention to inequality is all the more evident, if the new agenda is to ensure equitable and sustainable social and economic development.

“The issue of inequality has therefore rightly assumed increasing prominence in global discussions. It is emerging as one of the most critical cross-cutting challenges of the development agenda. High levels of inequality – whether based on gender, income, access to social services and infrastructure, access to opportunities, land distribution, or health and education – are associated with higher unemployment, diminished contribution of growth to poverty reduction, higher average crime rates, lower average health and education status, social and political instability with more fragile democracy, and the worsening of existing fragilities and vulnerabilities.”

According to Foreign Minister Rodriguez-Birkett, numerous studies have persuasively shown that excessive inequality impacts negatively on economic and social development. She said notwithstanding, the Secretary-General has observed that efforts to achieve the MDGs have not adequately taken into account the impact of inequality on economic and social development.

“While a significant decline has been witnessed in world poverty since the Millennium Development Goals were adopted, the same cannot be said about inequality. On the contrary, the empirical evidence shows that particular inequalities have persisted or become even more severe. In the context of a new development framework, addressing inequality is crucial to the achievement of sustainable development objectives. No society can expect to achieve sustained and sustainable economic and social growth while significant numbers of its people are poorly nourished, in poor health, unemployed, and or lack the education, skills or resources needed for their own and their families' development and well-being. How the international community addresses the challenge of inequality will therefore be pivotal to the success of our efforts to achieve sustainable development.”

Guyana's Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who opened the debate warned that stark disparities and widening gaps between the world's rich and poor were a "reproach to the promise of the United Nations Charter".

He said those gaps were contrary to United Nations principles, adding that societies where hope and opportunity were scarce were vulnerable to upheaval and conflict. Social and economic inequalities bred crime, disease and environmental degradation, as well as hampered economic growth.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "We live in a time of profound change and considerable uncertainty," noting that successive global crises had shocked economies and brought severe distress to the world's poor and vulnerable. It was in that context that the international community would elaborate its post-2015 agenda.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 4’35″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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