Our Perspective

      • Women can be the best agents of peace — if we let them | Roma Bhattacharjea

        20 Sep 2013

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        A WOMAN WHO MANAGES A MILK-CHILLING CENTRE IN INDIA. A GREATER ROLE FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS HELPS PROMOTE LONG-TERM PEACE AND STABILITY. (PHOTO: GRAHAM CROUCH/UNDP)

        It is 21 September 2013 and the buzzword is peace. But when we talk about peace, we often think of men laying down weapons, signing treaties and rebuilding countries. On this International Day of Peace, however, we need to remember the fundamental role of women in countries affected by conflict. Remember women not as hapless victims, but as agents of change who invest in their families and communities and who have the potential to build peaceful and prosperous societies. The international community can do more to support women in accessing employment, property, markets and new skills. Supporting their financial independence may go a long way towards giving women a voice and the power to negotiate when it comes to making decisions within families and communities in even the most remote, war-torn corners of the Earth. Improving women's access to education, capital, jobs and markets promotes balanced and inclusive growth. The Asia-Pacific region loses $42 billion to $47 billion per year because of restrictions on women’s access to employment opportunities. This hurts social cohesion, stability and trust in institutions, which are fundamental for long-term peace. Women with jobs are also far more likely than men to invest their income in food, education and health care Read More

      • Chile's 9/11 shows political freedom is crucial for development | Heraldo Muñoz

        11 Sep 2013

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        Portrait of a child taken in the Juan Pablo II camp in Santiago, Chile. Photo: Nicolas Pinto Tironi / UNDP

        Forty years after Chile’s 9/11, when General Augusto Pinochet overthrew democratically elected President Salvador Allende, many people still ask me: Wasn’t he responsible for the economic miracle that made Chile a success story? After the coup in Egypt in July, a Wall Street Journal editorial argued that "Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile's Augusto Pinochet," who, it said, "took power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy." Indeed, Pinochet personified a disturbing contradiction. He won praise for transforming the economy into one of the most prosperous in Latin America. The main problem for Pinochet's apologists was his brutality and corruption. If only he had modernized Chile's economy without assassinating, torturing and exiling tens of thousands of dissidents and getting caught hiding offshore bank accounts. But the groundwork for Pinochet's economic modernization was laid by his predecessors—under democratic rule. Land reform in the 1960s and early '70s allowed the military regime to boost agroindustry and an export-oriented economy. By 1970 the illiteracy rate was below 10 percent, malnutrition and infant mortality had been declining for decades and Chile had several solid state institutions. The return Read More

      • Why should companies care about human rights? | Heraldo Muñoz

        06 Sep 2013

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        Businesses must work together with governments and civil society to take protect human rights as they promote economic growth. Above, miners in Brazil. (Photo: Sebastiao Barbosa/UN Photo)

        What led more than 400 representatives of national and multinational companies, governments, trade unions, civil society and indigenous peoples’ organizations to gather to discuss the impact of business on human rights? I asked myself this question as I opened the first Regional Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean on the Business Impact of Human Rights in Medellin, Colombia this August. Hundreds of top executives from the mining, energy, oil, food, beverage, banking/finance and agriculture sectors held an open dialogue with local communities, including campesinos and indigenous peoples, NGOs and public sector officials. Certainly the region has grown in recent years, but investments, especially related to extractive industries and land tenure, tend to spark social conflicts. And that's a challenge we all have to tackle together for truly sustainable development in the economic, social and environmental spheres. The United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) recognizes human rights as a central component of human development. And of course, human development is linked to the universal rights to equality, non-discrimination, participation and accountability. So we convened this forum in partnership with the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (supported by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) and Read More