Human rights under financial crisis

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The global financial slowdown has not only affected development, but also human rights. And developed nations should make good on their commitments of assistance to developing nations to tackle the common challenges. This was the consensus of participants at the opening of a human rights forum in Beijing.

Falling stocks, shrinking incomes, and rising unemployment, the global financial crisis has worsened the situation of human rights worldwide.

Samuel Kofi Woods, Liberian Minister of Public Works, said, "It has affected us more than developed countries. Already, we have been affected by heavy debt burden, issue of aid flows, questions we wanted to be addressed."

Palan Mulonda, vice-president of Zambian Human Rights Committee, said, "Now once inflows are going down, it basically reduces the ability of government to raise efficient money to make social investment. "

China has already taken measures to stimulate growth. The government has also made employment a top priority.

Luo Haocai, president of China Society for Human Rights Studies, said, "The kind of development that is capable of supporting human rights must be comprehensive, harmonious and sustainable, not the unbalanced and false economic prosperity of a bubble economy. "

Though much remains to be done, China's efforts have been acknowledged by many participants.

Professor Sirkka Korpela, Columbia University, USA, said, "Since China took very strong and timely measures to contact the crisis through a stimulus package that has helped China to overcome the situation and in this way China is also helping the rest of the world to overcome."

They say the international community should take joint measures in eliminating the negative influence of the financial crisis on human rights.

And the rich nations should fulfill their commitments for aid.

Ibrahim M. Kazaure, Nigerian Minister for Special Duties, said, "If they cannot, they shouldn't promise. Promise is one thing, acting is another thing."

Professor David Kinley, University of Sydney, Australia, said, "It's not just a question of moral and obligation. Rich countries have often become rich by virtually their relations with poor countries, maybe by exploitation to poor countries. But more than that, rich countries do not ensure that other countries are developing alongside them, and they are left poor. That's where the problems arise."

The forum provides an open debate for human rights issues. Scholars and officials from nearly 30 countries and regions are taking part in the two-day event.

The UN Millennium Development Goals aim to cut poverty by half by 2015. However, the financial crisis - and soaring energy and grain prices - loom as key threats to these goals. Human Rights experts are calling for effective measures to soften the blow against the world's most disadvantaged people.


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