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This page was updated on: 01/26/10


Human Development Media Report Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2003; 2002





The United Nations family recently commemorated International Human Rights Day recognizing the critical role of human rights education. The General Assembly marked the conclusion of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004) with a plenary session that announced the World Programme for Human Rights Education. The first three years of this Programme seeks to integrate human rights issues into primary and secondary school curricula, and a new publication was launched offering practical advice to teachers and other educators who wish to foster human rights awareness and action among primary and secondary school children. Also at UN headquarters in New York., an exhibition was set up focusing on the struggle against slavery and its abolition, while panel discussions reviewed human rights issues in the past year and addressed human rights education in the school system.


In observance of the action day, the UN Human Rights Commission focused on the need to protect indigenous peoples through human rights education, and WHO collaborated with FIFA, the international federation of football associations, to address the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and promote awareness among young people.


Links to further information

UN Human Rights Day website

ABC - Teaching Human Rights: Practical activities for primary and secondary schools





The shift towards industrialization, privatization and export orientation of the fishing industry should consider the rights and resources of subsistence fishing communities, according to an interim report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food. The report examines the critical importance of fish and fishery resources for access to food and livelihoods in many Asian, African and Latin American countries, and expresses concerns regarding the ongoing restructuring of the fish trade and fishing industry, noting potential negative impacts on the livelihoods and food security of artisanal and subsistence fisherfolk. According to the report, there are approximately 842 million people suffering from under nourishment in a world that produces more than sufficient food to feel the world's population, and hunger levels have been increasing every year since 1996 when governments pledged to combat hunger at the World Food Summit. In addition to its focus on the linkages between fisheries and the right to food, the report also provides an overview of the current situation of world hunger, and highlights situations of special concern, including in Sudan, North Korea, Cuba and the Occupied Palestine Territories, urging respective governments to respect the human right to food. An Intergovernmental Working Group convened under the auspices of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is currently drafting "voluntary guidelines" that seek to assist governments in their efforts to implementation the right to food through a rights-based approach to food security.


Links to further information

Interim report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the right to food



World Habitat Day was celebrated around the globe on 4 October under the theme "Cities-Engines of Rural Development." The theme highlights the economic, social and environmental interdependence between urban and rural areas, and sought to generate ideas on integrated approaches that reinforce that inter-relationship.


In observance, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that "While there are obvious differences between urban and rural development that require different interventions, ultimately sustainable development cannot and should not focus exclusively on one or the other." Reiterating the importance of the urban-rural linkage, UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka said "it is imperative … that if we are to achieve sustainable economic and social development … governments must integrate their country's urban and rural areas as a matter of policy."


Established by the UN for the world to reflect on the state of human settlements and the basic right to adequate shelter and to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat, World Habitat Day has been observed on the first Monday in October since 1985.


Links to further information

World Habitat Day website


JULY 2004



UN urges greater commitment to women's rights on World Population Day: This year's World Population Day, celebrated on 11 July, also marked the 10th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994. While recognizing the significant progress made in improving the quality of life for women since the Cairo conference, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Thoraya Obaid stressed that more action was needed, especially with regards to safe motherhood. According to Obaid, safe motherhood entails addressing potential complications from pregnancy and childbirth, and protecting women from violence, abuse and HIV/AIDS. In his World Population Day statement, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed the need to promote women's rights and increase investment in education and health, including in reproductive health and family planning.


US joins Latin America and Caribbean countries in adopting population and development resolution: Delegates at the recent UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) session adopted a resolution endorsing a declaration that reaffirms commitment to the principles, objectives and actions in the Cairo ICPD Programme of Action. Adopted in March in Santiago during an Open-ended Meeting of the Presiding Officers of the sessional Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development, the declaration also urges countries to intensify actions in areas such as gender equity and women's rights, population, development and the environment, reproductive rights, and sexual and reproductive health. The United States, who was the sole dissenter of the Santiago declaration in March, joined consensus on the ECLAC resolution text following strenuous negotiations and agreement by participants to take note of the meeting's report, which includes a record of the US dissent. The ECLAC session took place from 28 June to 2 July in Puerto Rico.


US decides to withhold population funding: The United States administration has decided not to release the $34 million appropriated by Congress for the UNFPA, funds which according to the UN organization are urgently needed to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS, prevent maternal deaths, and provide family planning. The Bush administration's reason for withholding the funds are based on assertions that the UNFPA supports coerced abortion in China, an allegation that the UNFPA says is baseless. A recent report entitled "Global Implications of U.S. Domestic and International Policies on Sexuality" has analyzed and criticized the Bush administration's domestic and foreign policy on sexuality and reproductive health issues. The report notes that "Since President Bush came into power, the White House has adopted a host of policies and rules and reinforced existing measures that have systematically attacked human rights in matters of sexuality, at home and abroad."


Links to further information

World Population Day website

30th session of ECLAC website

The Santiago Declaration

Featured stories on the ECLAC session on

UNFPA press release, 16 July 2004

Global Implications of U.S. Domestic and International Policies on Sexuality



Australians John Caldwell and Catherine Hamlin were recently bestowed the United Nations Population Award, conferred annually to individuals and institutions for outstanding work in the field of population and the improvement of health and welfare of individuals. Caldwell, a demographer, was recognized for his extensive research on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, and Hamlin, a doctor, for co-founding the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. According to the UN news centre, the two experts urged the world to pay greater attention to the "largely forgotten plight of victims of health problems … exacerbated by poverty."


Links to further information

UN News Centre, 6 July 2004

Press conference on 2004 Population Award, 6 July 2004


MAY 2004



The international community recently reached a landmark agreement to adopt a unified global response to tackling HIV/AIDS. Co-hosted by UNAIDS, the UK and the US, a high-level meeting saw key donors reaffirm their commitment to enhancing national responses to AIDS and endorse the "Three Ones" principles aimed at ensuring rapid action and achieving effective and efficient use of resources. While global political will exists toward combating the epidemic, the crisis has continued to worsen. The "Three Ones" comprises three principles aimed at coordinating national AIDS responses with: one agreed HIV/AIDS Action Framework providing the basis for coordinating the work of all partners; one national AIDS authority with a broad-based multisectoral mandate; and one agreed country-level monitoring and evaluation system. The three principles were initially identified through a preparatory process at the global and country levels, initiated by UNAIDS in cooperation with the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.


Meanwhile, the recently released World Health Report 2004 notes that in light of political will and increased global investment in health, the international community has a "unique opportunity to change the course of history" by using HIV treatment programmes, previously neglected in many developing countries, to strengthen existing prevention programmes and improve health systems.


Links to further information

WHO press release, 11 May 2004

UNAIDS press release, 25 April 2004



ECOSOC recently took up elections for several of its subsidiary bodies, including the Commission on Population and Development, the Commission for Social Development, the Commission on Sustainable Development, the Commission on the Status of Women, and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.


Among the highlights of the ECOSOC organizational session was the election of Sudan to the Commission on Human Rights – the United Nation's highest forum for examining civil rights in the world. In light of the recent human rights and humanitarian crisis in Darfur, the United States expressed concern that Sudan's admission to the Commission would undermine its work and its credibility. The US called on ECOSOC to consider the consequences of the Commission becoming a "safe haven for the world's worst human rights violators, particularly one engaged in ethnic cleansing," and excused his delegation from the meeting following the submission of the Sudan's candidacy. He was reported saying that he was "perplexed and dismayed that the African Group had submitted, for the third time, a country that massacred its own citizens."


Sudan responded by stating that his government had acknowledged fully the humanitarian problem in Dafur and had urged assistance from the international community. He further noted it was "ironic that the United States delegation, while shedding crocodile tears over the situation in Darfur, was turning a blind eye to the atrocities committed by American forces in Iraq," adding that "those who live in glass houses should not throw stones."


A high-level UN fact-finding mission in Darfur is finalizing its report, while information is currently being collected for a report on civil liberties in Iraq to be completed by the end of May.


Links to further information

ECOSOC press release, 4 May 2004





Despite economic growth in the latter half of last year, global unemployment rose to a record 185.9 million in 2003, says the International Labour Organization in its Global Employment Trends 2004 report. The number of unemployed men rose from 2002, while the number of unemployed women decreased slightly. Most severely affected were young people aged 15-24, who experienced an unemployment rate of 14.4 percent. The report also notes that while recent economic recovery did not prevent last year's record levels of unemployment, which constituted 6.2 percent of the total labor force, it has slowed the aggravation of the worldwide unemployment situation.


ILO Director-General Juan Somavia expressed concern that many countries will fail to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015 if economic recovery falters and jobs are not created, but added that "we can reverse this trend and reduce poverty if policymakers stop treating employment as an afterthought and place decent work at the heart of macroeconomic and social policies."

In addition to providing regional overviews of the global employment situation, the report also makes a number of policy recommendations, including adopting pro-poor policies, reducing youth unemployment rates, and increasing international assistance aimed at improving access to developed-country markets and reducing external debts and debt servicing.


Links to further information

ILO press release, 22 January 2004

ILO's Global Employment Trends 2004

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