Foreign Policy Blogs

Poverty erodes human rights

Daily Mail photo

Yesterday, Amnesty International released their global survey report on the state of human rights around the world.  Iren Khan, Sec-Gen of Amnesty, made a salient observation when she attended a high-level meeting in New York on MDGs last September. 

Countries are hard pressed to back up their rhetoric on meeting the MDG goals set for 2015 she writes.  But as she left the UN building, a ticker tape was announcing the crash of one New York’s largest investment banks. 

We all know what happened next.  Within a record time, billions were being pumped into these financial institutions whose reckless abuse of power and web of deceit will push another 53 million (from an already astounding 150 million in 2008 alone) into poverty according to the World Bank. 

The report says the global financial meltdown is compounded by the rise of food costs.  Hunger breeds desperation, violence, and a profound sense of injustice as the world’s elite dine on the excess of their bailouts.  francisbacon

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says that for the first time in history, 1 billion people will go hungry.  Years of progress and efforts by international aid organisations, by local communities, by ordinary people seems to have been swept away by the flood of greed  of society’s “elite.”

The G-20 summits are  feigned efforts to right the wrongs.  Instead, governments are focusing on fighting off terrorism and spending resources on internal security.  The perversion of fear that weaves policies in a risk aversive society becomes irrational in its stated goals of eradicating that fear.

Neglecting the well-being of a nation’s children, of its women and men, and then treating individuals and whole groups as suspects, breeds contempt and further feeds the machine of injustice and hatred.

A new system,  a new order that is grounded in humanism and not the zealous pursuit of wealth at all costs, is needed so that the 200,000,000 people who have lost almost everything can begin to have faith in humanity.  And in us.



Nikolaj Nielsen

Nikolaj Nielsen has a Master's of Journalism and Media degree from a program partnership of three European universities - University of Arhus in Denmark, University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and Swansea University in Wales. His work has been published at Reuters AlertNet,, the New Internationalist and others.

Areas of Focus:
Torture; Women and Children; Asylum;