‘Rethinking Poverty’ conference cites risks to children posed by rising global insecurity
By Chris Niles
NEW YORK, 22 April 2008 – Participants in an international conference here have been told that global uncertainty and rising terrorism and violence will lead to an increase in the number of people – including children – living in poverty.
UNICEF Deputy Representative in Turkmenistan Abdul Alim said the situation called for a new approach to the way poverty is defined and tackled.
“There’s a growing realisation that there’s a new dimension of poverty emerging because of food insecurity,” he said, “and there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that there’s a rise in the number of natural and man-made disasters. There’s a rise in conflict around the world.”
Policies that work for children
Mr. Alim was speaking at ‘Rethinking Poverty: Making Policies that Work for Children’, a conference hosted by UNICEF and the graduate program in international affairs at the New School university in New York. The three-day conference, which began yesterday, has gathered together some of the world’s leading experts on poverty.
“Poverty affects children in special ways,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Saad Houry said at the opening session. “These complexities are often not taken into account with policy.”
Mr. Alim told the conference that geopolitical shifts may present some of the most significant challenges.
“There is a change in the world that is taking place, a very significant change,” he said. “Given the rise in insecurity and the perception of it globally, it is more likely to shape poverty and human development than it did before the new millennium.”
‘A much larger debate’
Mr. Alim added that preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution will play an increasingly important role in the 21st century. He stressed the need to ensure that governments realise human security must be part of every national discussion.
“It’s a much larger debate than poverty. It’s a different debate now.” he said. “We need to recognise that the governments have very good reasons for rising defense needs. But we also need to let them know that unless their economic situation improves and human resource development takes place, they will always be insecure.”