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‘Entrenched Inequality’ Must Be Tackled

‘Entrenched Inequality’ Must Be Tackled Says Annan At Ibero-American Summit

New York, Nov 4 2006 4:00AM

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today highlighted the need to deal with “entrenched inequality,” noting in particular the problems in Latin America where over 200 million people live in poverty, as he called for balanced development and fair distribution of gains from international trade.

In a speech to the Ibero-American Summit in Uruguay, Mr. Annan also stressed the links between development and international migration and said the experiences of Latin American countries with migration would be essential in preparing for next summer’s Global Forum on the issue.

“One of these challenges is entrenched inequality… Here in Latin America, inequality and poverty are persisting challenges. The region has the world’s highest degree of inequality in terms of income distribution, with 220 million people living in poverty.”

“Achieving balanced, sustainable development also means addressing global inequities. For most countries in this region, that is not about aid. It is partly about debt and volatile capital flows. But most of all, it’s about the fair distribution of gains from international trade. That includes revenues from primary commodity exports, and the free movement of goods, people and ideas.

Mr. Annan said September’s High-Level Dialogue in the General Assembly on migration and development showed how closely they were linked, and added that the world is now ready for a “serious global debate.”

“International migration is one of the great issues of this century. Globalization, with advances in communication and transportation, has dramatically increased the number of people who have the desire and capacity to move to other countries. We have entered a new era of mobility. It is essential that we grasp its ramifications,”she said.

“Participation in the Dialogue was overwhelming… [Participants recognized] that international migration, development and human rights were intrinsically interconnected; that reaping the full benefits of international migration required countries to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all migrants.”

He noted that last year alone Latin America and the Caribbean generated a total of 26 million international migrants, 13 per cent of the world total, and said that such “rich experience” has generated “best practices and policies, which can serve as a valuable point of reference for the international community,” particularly in preparing for next year's first Global Forum on International Migration and Development.

In a related development, the UN refugee agency today called on the 22 member states attending this weekend’s Summit to reaffirm their commitment to refugees during their discussions on migration, which will include trying to establish a framework to handle migration movements within their region.

“While migration and asylum are distinct experiences, they are becoming increasingly linked, with many refugees travelling alongside migrants to reach a place of safety. Recognising this link is essential to ensure that migration management is consistent with human rights and refugee protection,” said UN High Commissioner for Refuῧees (UNHCR) spokesperson Ron Redmond at a press conference in Geneva.

“We welcome all efforts to find solutions that foster development and uphold the rights of refugees and others in need of international protection. We also stress that the right to asylum must be an integral part of any migratory framework.”

Ends

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