[JURIST] Corruption, abuse of power, and a focus on short-term security goals in Afghanistan have intensified the issue of poverty, affecting more than two-thirds of the population, according to a Tuesday report [text, DOC; press release] from the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website]. According to the report 36 percent, or nine million people, live in absolute poverty and cannot meet basic needs. Additionally, 36 percent were found to live just above the poverty line. While the report said that many Afghan leaders shape public policy for their own personal or vested interests, it said that the lack of security, the disparate allocation of resources, and discrimination were also reasons for the extreme poverty. The report focused on the need to address human rights issues in order find a solution to hardships facing the Afghan people:
Poverty is neither accidental, nor inevitable in Afghanistan: it is both a cause and consequence of a massive human rights deficit including widespread impunity and inadequate investment in, and attention to, human rights.The information for the report was provided by a survey given to some of the poorest communities in the Afghan provinces, along with interviews of local and national experts.
Understanding the human rights dimension of poverty is critical to the identification of underlying structural problems and processes that, left unaddressed, run the risk of undermining poverty reduction initiatives. A human rights perspective and analysis helps ensure that causes, and not just consequences, inform the design and implementation of programmes geared to the alleviation or elimination of chronic poverty.
Afghanistan has received much criticism for its human rights record. Earlier this month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] delivered a report [text, PDF; JURIST report] to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] that said Afghanistan's human rights progress has been thwarted by armed conflict, censorship, abuse of power, and violence against women. In February, the US State Department (DOS) [official website] released its annual 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices [DOS materials], criticizing Afghanistan [JURIST report] for its continued use of child labor. In November, Pillay urged [press release] Afghan President Hamad Karzai to put a stop to executions [JURIST report] and join nations calling for a death penalty moratorium after five prisoners were executed over the course of four days.