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Human Development Report - Extreme poverty and exclusion amidst progress in Latin America and Caribbean

  • 21 March 2017 |

    Development gaps for women, indigenous peoples, remote dwellers and other groups set to widen unless deep-rooted development barriers, including violence, discrimination and unequal political participation, are tackled.

    Stockholm, 21 March 2017 – A quarter-century of impressive human development gains in Latin America and the Caribbean masks slow and uneven progress for certain disadvantaged groups. A stronger focus on dismantling key barriers to development is urgently needed to ensure sustainable human development for all. These are some key findings of the Human Development Report 2016, entitled ‘Human Development for Everyone’, released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

    The report finds that although average human development improved significantly across all regions from 1990 to 2015, one in three people worldwide continue to live in low levels of human development as measured by the Human Development Index (HDI). “The world has come a long way in rolling back extreme poverty, in improving access to education, health and sanitation, and in expanding possibilities for women and girls,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, speaking at the launch of the report in Stockholm today. “But those gains are a prelude to the next, possibly tougher challenge, to ensure the benefits of global progress reach everyone.”

    According to the report, the Latin America and Caribbean region enjoys high levels of human development among developing regions, second only to Europe and Central Asia. However, when adjusted for inequality, the region’s HDI drops by almost a quarter due to the unequal distribution of human development gains, particularly income.

    Download the report
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  • it is time to face up to deep-rooted barriers to development

    “By eliminating deep, persistent, discriminatory social norms and laws, and addressing the unequal access to political participation, which have hindered progress for so many, poverty can be eradicated and a peaceful, just, and sustainable development can be achieved for all," Helen Clark said.
    Marginalized groups often have limited opportunities to influence the institutions and policies that determine their lives. Changing this is central to breaking the vicious circle of exclusion and deprivation.


    For example, indigenous peoples account for five percent of the world’s population, but 15 percent of people living in poverty. And members of the LGBTI community cannot actively advocate for their rights when same-sex acts between men are illegal in more than 70 countries.


    The report calls for far greater attention to empowering the most marginalized in society, and recognizes the importance of giving them greater voice in decision-making processes.
    The report also calls for a more refined analysis to inform actions, including making a shift toward assessing progress in such areas as participation and autonomy. Key data, disaggregated for characteristics such as place, gender, socioeconomic status and ethnicity, is vital to know who is being left behind.


    Moreover, the report warns, key development metrics can overstate progress when they focus on the quantity, rather than the quality, of development. For instance, girls’ enrolment in primary education has increased, but in half of 53 developing countries with data, the majority of adult women who completed four to six years of primary school are illiterate.
  • Latest Human Development Index for CARICOM States ranked from Highest to lowest:

    (source UNDP HDI 2016 report)

    HDI Rank Country
    54  Barbados
    58  Bahamas
    62  Antigua and Barbuda
    65  Trinidad and Tobago
    74  Saint Kitts and Nevis
    79  Grenada
    92  Saint Lucia
    94  Jamaica
    96  Dominica
    97  Suriname
    99  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
    103  Belize
    127  Guyana
    163  Haiti

    Table showing HDI indices from 2010 to 2015 for CARICOM states


    HDI Rank
















    58  Bahamas 0.788 0.789 0.79 0.789 0.79 0.792
    62  Antigua and Barbuda 0.782 0.778 0.781 0.782 0.784 0.786
    65  Trinidad and Tobago 0.774 0.772 0.773 0.778 0.779 0.78
    74  Saint Kitts and Nevis 0.741 0.746 0.749 0.756 0.762 0.765
    79  Grenada 0.741 0.744 0.746 0.749 0.751 0.754
    92  Saint Lucia 0.733 0.735 0.734 0.723 0.735 0.735
    94  Jamaica 0.722 0.725 0.727 0.727 0.729 0.73
    96  Dominica 0.722 0.722 0.721 0.724 0.724 0.726
    97  Suriname 0.704 0.708 0.719 0.722 0.723 0.725
    99  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 0.712 0.713 0.717 0.72 0.72 0.722
    103  Belize 0.7 0.702 0.706 0.705 0.706 0.706
    127  Guyana 0.624 0.63 0.633 0.636 0.638 0.638
    163  Haiti 0.47 0.477 0.483 0.487 0.49 0.493

     HDI Progress for the last 5 years (top 4 countires)



UN expert urges more aid for Hurricane Matthew victims

  • 14 March 2017 |

13 March 2017 – An independent United Nations expert on human rights today welcomed the recent completion of the electoral process as “remarkable progress” for the island nation, while he also urged the authorities to address the situation in prisons, and redouble efforts to help Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew and the 2010 earthquake.

Following his eight official mission, Gustavo Gallón, the Independent Expert praised “the transparency, professionalism and commitment of the Provisional Electoral Council, and the provisional government authorities in leading the elections.”

Even though not enough, the Independent Expert has noted the election of a female senator as well as three female parliamentarians to the lower Chamber. He also invited the authorities to intensify their efforts in continuing to promote the political participation of women.

He went on to say that detention conditions in Haitian prisons are extremely inhuman, cruel and degrading, according to the Independent Expert. Long pre-trial detention, which amounts to an average of 70 per cent at national level, is among the main causes of prison overcrowding, which reaches a rate of 358 per cent, equivalent to 1.43 square meters per prisoner.

There are prisons where the situation is even worse, according to a study conducted in 2016 of the National. “It can be said that 91 per cent of all detainees in this prison who are awaiting trial are illegally or arbitrarily detained, which represents an increase of 23 per cent since 2014,” Mr. Gallón explained, adding that the excessive level of overcrowding is also a factor, among others, that contributes to the high level of death in prison.

read more “If the current trend continues, projections for the year 2017 can result in the death of 229 prisoners, an annual mortality rate of 21.8 per 1,000," he said. Taking note of the establishment of a new Presidential Commission to assess the situation in prisons, he made an appeal to the authorities to implement urgent actions aimed at the abolition of prolonged pre-trial detention in order to improve prison conditions and to respect the rights of people deprived of their liberty.

The Independent Expert also called for efforts to continue to deal with the issue of people displaced following the 2010 earthquake, Hurricane Matthew last year, and the expulsions of Haitians from the Dominican Republic. “The dialogue between the Haitian authorities and their Dominican counterparts should be strengthened to ensure the rights to nationality and identity of Haitian people and their descendants,” he said.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

UN Secretary General launches report: “Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: A New Approach"

  • 09 March 2017 |

The Secretary-General today launched his report on Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse: A new approach, which sets out his new strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse. 

As the Secretary-General said in his video message  “the vast majority of UN personnel serve with pride, dignity and respect for the people they assist and protect, very often in dangerous and difficult conditions and at great personal sacrifice.   Yet our Organization continues to grapple with the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, despite great efforts over many years to address it. We need a new approach.” 

The Secretary General’s strategy makes recommendations on four main areas: putting the rights and dignity of victims first; ending impunity for those guilty of crimes and abuses; drawing on the knowledge and wisdom of external partners such as civil society, local communities and experts; and, raising awareness and sharing best practices.

New mechanisms will be set in place to enforce the policy of whistle-blowers and protect staff who report cases of sexual exploitation and abuse. Senior leadership will be instructed, system-wide, to issue management letters to their governing bodies certifying that all allegations have been reported and appropriate action is taken on them. Screening mechanisms prior to recruitment or upon extension of contracts will be strengthened and a system will be established to ensure that individuals terminated from service in one part of the UN system due to substantiated allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, will not be hired in any other part of the UN system.

All individuals assigned to UN field based activities will be required to carry the “no excuses’ pocket card that restates our rules and spell out how to report allegations. A new annual written attestation will be developed for every staff member to confirm that they have read and understood United Nations’ code of conduct and the consequences of failing to abide by it. Training on sexual exploitation and abuse will become mandatory for all categories of personnel, system-wide.

Finally, as revealed by the data contained in his report, nearly all victims of sexual exploitation and abuse are women and girls. The Secretary-General is convinced that increasing the number of women throughout UN activities, including service as uniformed peacekeepers, would help advance the UN efforts to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse – which is deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination. The UN must, moreover, do more to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality.

The Secretary-General calls on all parties to deliver on these goals together. “Let us do so in the name of all who look to the United Nations for life-saving protection and support – and on behalf of the tens of thousands of United Nations personnel around the world who deliver that assistance with courage and commitment to the highest ideals.”





click to read the text of the S-G's message


One of my most unforgettable experiences has been listening to the victims of rape, sexual violence, exploitation and abuse.
Their haunting stories and chilling testimony will stay with me forever. Such acts of cruelty should never take place. Certainly no person serving with the United Nations in any capacity should be associated with such vile and vicious crimes. Indeed, the vast majority of UN troops and personnel serve with pride, dignity and respect for the people they assist and protect, very often in dangerous and difficult conditions and at great personal sacrifice. Yet our Organization continues to grapple with the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, despite great efforts over many years to address it.

We need a new approach. In my inaugural speech as Secretary-General, I pledged to work closely with Member States on structural, legal and operational measures to make zero tolerance a reality. And in my first week as Secretary-General, I established a High-Level Task Force with an urgent task: To develop an ambitious new approach to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse committed by those serving under the UN flag. Today, I am presenting those proposals for consideration by the General Assembly .

My report outlines a victim-centered strategy rooted in transparency, accountability and ensuring justice. It is based on four tracks. First, to put the rights and dignity of victims first. Second, to focus on ending impunity for those guilty of crimes and abuses. Third, to draw on the wisdom and guidance of all those who have been affected, civil society, local communities and others to strengthen and improve our efforts. Fourth and finally, to raise awareness and share best practices to end this scourge. Since exploitation is also deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination, we must work to promote gender balance throughout the UN family and in our missions and peacekeeping forces. This will advance parity while decreasing incidents of abuse.

I am confident that we can meet these goals together. Let us do so in the name of all who look to the United Nations for life-saving protection and support – and on behalf of the tens of thousands of United Nations personnel around the world who deliver that assistance with courage and commitment to the highest ideals. Let us declare in one voice: We will not tolerate anyone committing or condoning sexual exploitation and abuse. We will not let anyone cover up these crimes with the UN flag. Every victim deserves justice and our full support. Together, let us deliver on that promise.





  Below: Watch the S-G's video message at the launch of the report  and download the report


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UN calls for women's full participation in labour force

  • 08 March 2017 |

8 March 2017 – As the rights of women and girls around the world are being reduced and restricted, the United Nations today marked International Women's Day with calls for empowering and educating women and girls to reach gender equality in the work place.

In messages for the Day and events around the world, senior UN officials reflected on the significant impact of women's participation and contribution to the global economy, and international goal of reaching 50-50 equality in employment around the world by 2030.

Secretary-General António Guterres noted that leadership positions are predominantly held by men, and “outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism” are widening the economic gender gap.

“Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women's rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices,” the Secretary-General said.

He underscored that denying women and girls their rights “is not only wrong in itself; it has serious social and economic impacts that hold us all back.”

Closing the gender gap, for example, would add $12 trillion to global gross domestic production (GDP) by 2025.

In her message, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director, decried the lack of opportunities for women and girls, saying “too many women and girls spend too many hours on household responsibilities.”

She called for construing a different world of work for women: “As they grow up, girls must be exposed to a broad range of careers, and encouraged to make choices that lead beyond the traditional service and care options to jobs in industry, art, public service, modern agriculture and science,”

This change needs to start at home and in the first days of school, and include adjustments in parenting, curricula, educational settings and cultural stereotypes propagated in entertainment and advertising.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said women and girls must be ready to be part of a digital revolution and study science, technology and math if they are to compete successfully for high-paying new jobs.

In her message, the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCOsaid equality lies in destroying stereotypes. It “lies in ridding the media and collective imagination of prejudice by highlighting the women scientists, artists and politicians who are moving humanity forward in all fields,” Irina Bokova said.

She called on governments to invest in education and training, and allowing women to exercise their own choices when it comes to their bodies and their lives – just as men do.

“Everywhere, women and men are determined to change things, to denounce discrimination and demand genuine equality, and we must support and accompany them,” said Ms. Bokova.

Learn more about the UN and Women 



10th ILO Caribbean Minister of Labour Meeting adopts its Conclusions

  • 01 March 2017 |

Kingston (ILO News) - Following two days of deliberation on realizing decent work under the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Ministers of Labour and other high-level representatives of the Ministries and Departments of Labour of the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, adopted their Conclusions  for action on key themes for the Caribbean growth, development and labour rights challenges:

  1. Elevating Decent Work to the national and regional policy level and the role of social partnership;
  2. Non-standard forms of employment;
  3. Harmonization of labour laws;
  4. Regional Initiative: Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour;
  5. Skilled Workforce for Sustainable Growth and Development;
  6. Improving productivity and competitiveness: the role of the labour management relations and transitioning to formality;
  7. Labour cooperation in the region.

“The objectives have been realized. You have defined a clear set of priorities and we as ILO depart with a much clearer understanding of the challenges, how to address them and what your expectations are” ...

  ILO Director-General, Mr Guy Ryder




ILO Director-General,congratulated  the delegations stating that he was encouraged by the assets constituents brought to the process and the “strength of the determination of Governments, Employers and Workers to come together to deal with the challenges. This is not a given in many parts of the world.” He was committed to make sure the distinctive nature of the Caribbean constituency forms part of the ILO global community. He expressed sincere appreciation to the host country Jamaica and all participants.



Small Island Developing States meet in Bahamas to take stock of progress towards the 2030 development agenda

  • 20 February 2017 |


The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Symposium, organized by the Government of Bahamas with support of the United Nations, focusing on the specific development challenges faced by SIDS, will kick off on 21 February 2017 in Nassau, the Bahamas. 

The three-day Symposium will take stock of how SIDS can fast track towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the SAMOA Pathway – a global commitment which highlights the unique development needs of SIDS due to their particular vulnerabilities, including to the impact of climate change.

At the Symposium, participants, including high-level government and UN officials, will also discuss partnerships for development, the role of public institutions as well as the need to mobilize information and communication technology, and strengthen monitoring and statistical capacities.

For more information on the Symposium, please visit: http://bit.ly/2kh6Fch. Join us online by using the hashtag #SIDSSymposium2017. The Symposium will be streamed live: http://bit.ly/2kR2pwc


Speakers will include:  

  • H.E. Mr. Perry G Christie, Prime Minister, the Bahamas
  • Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, UN



PAHO Director to visit Guyana for new country cooperation strategy

  • 07 February 2017 |

Georgetown, Guyana, 5 February 2017 (PAHO/WHO) — The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, plans to visit Guyana from Feb. 5 to 8 to meet with high-level government officials and sign a new strategy for technical cooperation in health.

Her visit will include working meetings and courtesy visits with Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Nagamooto, First Lady Sandra Granger and Minister of Public Health, Hon. Dr. Volda Lawrence and her staff. 

Dr. Etienne will be accompanied during her visit by PAHO Chief of Staff Dr. Merle Lewis and PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana Dr. William Adu-Krow.

A top subject for discussion will be the reconstitution and relaunch of Guyana’s National Non-communicable Diseases Commission, which PAHO/WHO considers especially important since noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for 70% of deaths in Guyana. Other subjects that are expected to be discussed include universal health coverage and health financing, tobacco control legislation, health systems strengthening, human resources in health, and the health of women, adolescents, and older adults.

During her visit, Dr. Etienne is also scheduled to meet with Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Carl Greenidge, Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, and Deputy Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) Dr. Douglas Slater, among others. Her agenda also includes a visit to a health center.

The country cooperation strategy (CCSs) that is expected to be signed is a mutually agreed instrument to guide PAHO’s work in the country. PAHO CCSs, which are developed with each PAHO Member State, are aligned with country priorities and also with the work plans of the World Health Organization (WHO), PAHO, the United Nations and other collaboration platforms, which facilitates an intersectoral approach to priority health problems. The agreements also incorporate core PAHO principles such as the right to health, equity, solidarity and diversity. 

Guyana is one of eight “key countries” where PAHO places greater emphasis on its technical cooperation to ensure that equity gaps are closed.  

About Dr. Etienne


official photo of PAHO DirectorDr. Carissa F. Etienne, a native of Dominica, was elected Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on September 2012. From March 2008 until 1 November 2012, Dr. Etienne served as Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Services at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to that, as Assistant Director of PAHO from July 2003 to February 2008, she led five technical areas: Health Systems and Services; Technology, Health Care and Research; Health Surveillance and Disease Management; Family and Community Health; and Sustainable Development and Environmental Health.

During her tenures at WHO and PAHO, Dr. Etienne led the efforts to renew primary health care and to strengthen health systems based on primary health care, promoting integration and improved functioning of health systems. She has also spearheaded policy directions for reducing health inequalities and advancing health for all through universal coverage, people-centered care, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership.



United Nations in Trinidad and Tobago supports efforts to end Child Marriage

  • 17 January 2017 |

Monday 16 January 2016 - The United Nations System in Trinidad and Tobago (UNTT) welcomed the resurgence of the debate on child marriage in Trinidad and Tobago and reaffirmed its support for all efforts to end this practice. the UN in T&T  said that it was looking forward to "Trinidad and Tobago’s adoption of a bill that would protect girls from child marriage and promote gender equality, for such action could enhance the well-being of its citizens and advance achievement of its sustainable development vision".

Child marriage – defined by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as a formal or informal marital union engaged in by a person under age 18 – violates human rights and threatens the health and prospects of, in particular, young girls. In this way, it slows progress towards gender equality, and towards ending poverty – in all circumstances and at all levels; and it undermines all dimensions of sustainable development.   

It has been shown that child marriage undermines the rights of freedom of expression, protection from all forms of abuse, and protection from harmful traditional practices identified in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  It deprives the girl child of an education, exposes her to violence and abuse, and can lead to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth that are life threatening for both mother and baby – contravening State obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

 These violations against children’s human rights and opportunities for personal development, also slow achievement of globally established Sustainable Development Goals, particularly as they relate to ending poverty, ensuring good health and well-being, attaining quality education and realising gender equality. Failure to achieve such goals can also directly undermine national development aspirations.  



 Learn more about  the UN and Child Marriage  extdoc




New UN manual aims to address management of violent extremists in prison

  • 16 January 2017 |

16 January 2017 – Highlighting the challenges brought on by and the need to address violent extremism and radicalization in prisons, the United Nations agency mandated to prevent international crime and assist criminal justice reform unveiled a new manual that offers practical advice on managing violent extremist prisoners, disengaging them from violence and facilitating their social reintegration upon release.

The Handbook on the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalization to Violence in Prisons, launched today by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) aims to strengthen key components of prison management, including training of prison staff, risk management and rehabilitation efforts.

“It also cautions against generalized assumptions regarding a very complex topic, as well as against 'quick fix solutions' when it comes to the management of violent extremist prisoners,” said UNODC in a news release announcing the manual.

In addition to loss of life and economic damage, violent extremism – a challenge confronting many countries around the world – can divide communities and give rise to increasingly reactionary and extremist views. On top of these challenges, management of such violent elements who end up in custody of the State is equally important and urgent.

Speaking at the launch, the Deputy Executive Director of UNODC, Aldo Lale-Demoz, drew attention to the need to integrate interventions for violent extremist prisoners in broader prison reform efforts.

“Overcrowding, poor prison conditions and infrastructure, insufficient prison management capacity as well as corruption, for example, are all factors which will poison attempts to effectively prevent and counter violent extremism in prisons,” he said.

Also at the launch event, held in the Austrian capital, Vienna, participants underscored the importance of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners – informally dubbed the Nelson Mandela Rules – for prison management.

They added that the overarching framework equally applied to violent extremist prisoners.

The Standard Minimum Rules constitute the universally acknowledged minimum standards for the management of prison facilities and the treatment of prisoners. Originally adopted by the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in 1955, the revised Rules were launched in October 2015.


This story was originally posted on the UN News Centre link goes to a UN website


2016 Year in Review: Challenges and milestones for the international community

  • 29 December 2016 |

28 December 2016 – The year 2016 was a challenging one for the international community, with the conflict in Syria worsening despite efforts to end the fighting, escalating violence and insecurity in South Sudan and Yemen, and a five million increase in the number of refugees worldwide.

Yet 2016, the hottest year on record, was also marked by critical breakthroughs, such as the historic Paris Agreement on climate change entering into force faster than any other UN treaty, Colombia clinching a historic peace deal to end 50 years of civil conflict, and governments as well as stakeholders from the private sector agreeing on a plan to control carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also came into force this year, with calls for greater efforts towards their implementation.

Also this year, which marks his last at the helm of the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apologized to the people of Haiti for the world body’s role in failing to properly address the cholera epidemic that has claimed the lives of at least 9,000 Haitians since 2010. In addition, he announced a $400 million two-track plan to stem the outbreak and provide long-term support for those affected.

Serious challenges remain on the international community's agenda – especially in Syria, South Sudan and Yemen – with Secretary-General Ban calling for unity and consensus among UN Member States in order to resolve these and other conflicts around the world.

Meanwhile, at the United Nations, the former Prime Minister of Portugal and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, was selected as the new UN Secretary-General and pledged to move away from fear and focus on rebuilding trust globally.The “UN Year in Review 2016,” produced by the UN Department of Public Information, takes a look at the milestones and challenges that marked the past 12 months.



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