by Pojanee Fleury
Published Fall 2012
There is a war going on, one that reaches deep into the bellies of men. A war that, despite being fought on multiple levels claims the lives of thousands each year and has others living day in and day out in absolute misery. American PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley has declared that poverty is “the new slavery(1).” Poverty is the leading cause of violence, suffering, sickness and death all around the world. At the recent General Debate of the 67th Session of the Untied Nations General Assembly, leaders of nations ravaged by the effects of poverty, addressed their challenges and presented their plans to eradicate it, paving the way for true economic growth and stability.
Her Excellency Mrs. Joyce Banda President of the Republic of Malawi spoke candidly about poverty, its affects on the citizens of Malawi, and her plans on how to fix deep-rooted problems that exist in the country. President Banda quoted Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his re-election speech in which he stated that the “biggest threats to security and peace are poverty, lack of opportunity and lack of hope(2).” Poverty is the absence of peace, it is the absence of hope and it is the absence of growth. There are many reasons why poverty exists around the world but its eradication is essential to the survival of the future generations. There has been significant progress made around the world to raise the standard of living for those affected by poverty, however, natural disasters, climate change, and recent challenges in the global economy have setback the progress leaving some regions back at the bottom of the uphill battle of economic stability.
The Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Baldwin Spencer along with President Banda, and many other heads of nations, that struggle with poverty in their countries continue to speak out about the challenges faced by their citizens at recent Debates. They have articulated issues that have brought about deepening levels of poverty in recent years. Prime Minister Gonsalves stated that “in [the] Caribbean region, the global economic and financial meltdown continues to be felt most acutely by the poor, the youth, the elderly and the vulnerable, who bear no responsibility for the rampant financial speculation and unregulated movement of capital that spurred the [recent] crisis....[the] region is forced to contemplate the implications of a potential 'lost decade' of development(3).” This is a deep crisis for a country that has been struggling with poverty since its conception and independence; any set back in development can be fatal. This was seen in the case of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. It was a setback that will take an estimated 20 years from which to recover, meaning that during that time there would be very little to no growth and an extremely weak, fragile economy. The social effects of poverty dramatically increase in such a climate. PM Gonsalves continued to say that, “small, highly-indebted middle-income developing countries, like those in the Caribbean, which are very vulnerable to natural disasters and international economic convulsions have especial concerns(3).” The vulnerability of developing nations challenges the efforts of economic stability and security. Instability in the global economy, limited access to the multinational markets, climate change, and terrorism are some of the major threats to development and stability. Among these threats are circumstances that are out of human control while others are the direct result of human inequities.
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