Kitt praises UN report on human development

A MUCH wider concept of global human security, embracing economic, social and environmental concerns is advocated in the United Nations’ Human Development Report for 1994, published simultaneously in capitals around the world yesterday.

The report, compiled for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) by a panel of independent experts gives enthusiastic backing to a dramatic strengthening of the UN’s powers in the social economic and environmental areas.

It calls for the establishment of an Economic Security Council, similar to the existing UN Security Council.

This year, Canada comes out on top of the world, ahead of Switzerland and third-placed Japan, in the Human Development Index (HDI) which ranks 173 countries in terms of life expectancy, educational level and basic purchasing power.

Ireland is ranked in 21st position, ahead of Italy (22nd), Spain (23rd), Hong Kong, (24th) and Greece (25th). Britain is ranked 10th in the index. The US is in eighth place.

In Dublin, the report was welcomed in a statement by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tom Kitt, Just back from the refugee camps on the borders of Rwanda.

Mr. Kitt said it was not “a bland, comfortable publication. Quite the opposite. It is disquieting and uncomfortable in many ways; cautiously hopeful in others; and constructively controversial in pointing the way forward.

“It makes sense that much of the material, conclusions and proposals contained in this years report should be combined with the efforts towards the reform of the UN itself.”

Ireland has Europe’s second highest, level of scientists and technicians, with 236 per 1,000 persons. It is the world’s second safest country for women to give birth with three maternal deaths per 100,000.

The report also reveals that Ireland, in spite, of its urban development, still possesses the greatest proportion 68 per cent of permanent grasslands in the industrial world.

The report defines its broader concept of human security in simple terms:”It means safety from the constant threats of hunger disease crime and repression. It also means protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the pattern of our daily lives.

“Famines, ethnic conflicts, social disintegration, terrorism, pollution and drug trafficking are no longer isolated events, confined within national borders. Their consequences travel the globe.

Arguing for stronger UN machinery, the report says: “It is less costly and more humane to meet these threats upstream rather than downstream, early rather than late. Short-term humanitarian assistance can never replace, long-term development support.

Other highlights of the UNDP report:

The $ 160 billion in debt servicing paid by the developing countries in 1992-was two and a half times the development aid they received:

As South Africa begins a new post-apartheid era, it must cope with a black-white gap in human development as wide as that between Spain and the Congo, says the report: “These are not just two different peoples. These are almost two different continents.”

The five permanent members of the Security Council those entrusted with the peace and security of the world are also the world’s main arms exporters. Military spending rose three times as fast in developing countries as in industrial countries between 1960 and 1987 from $ 24 to $ 145 billion.At the beginning of the century, 90 per cent of war casualties were military. Today, 90-per cent are civilian.

Some 800 people die each month from landmines. Although a landmine costs as little as $ 3 to make, it costs up to $ 1,000 to clear.

It took one million years to produce the earth’s first billion people. It will stake only 10 years to add the next billion to today’s estimated 5.5 billion.

More than one billion people live on a daily income of under $ 1. Political repression, systematic torture, ill-treatment or “disappearances” take place in 110 countries.Up to one-third of wives in developing countries are physically battered. The global cost of HIV and AIDS by 2000 will be at least Pounds 500 billion a year or over per bent of global GDP.