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Human rights - the facts

Civil and political rights

At the last count, in 2006: ^1^

Torture and terror

The death penalty

Violence against women


Economic and social rights ^2^

Proportion of totalgraph of population living on less than $1 a day

Extreme poverty

*Target:* halve the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day.

*Comment:* the target may almost be hit by ‘developing regions’ as a whole – but it will be missed spectacularly by sub-Saharan Africa.

graph of Under-five mortality rate per 1,000 live births

Child mortality

*Target:* Reduce the rate by two thirds.

*Comment:* Painfully slow progress. To meet the target the rate should fall by roughly 50 points in the 10 years between 2005 and 2015. It fell by just 23 points in the 15 years between 1990 and 2005.

graph of Proportion of children under age 5 who are underweight


*Target:* halve the number of people who suffer from hunger.

*Comment:* progress is far too slow. Every 5 seconds a child still dies from hunger-related causes. In Bangladesh, India and Nepal nearly half of all children under 5 suffer from malnutrition.


*Target:* Halt or reverse spread.

graph of Proportion of population using improved sanitation


*Target:* Halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water.

*Comment:* The target will be missed by 600 million people. An estimated 1.6 billion people will need access to ‘improved sanitation’ – not the same as safe drinking water - by 2015. Access to safe drinking water is likely to be even more restricted.

Maternal Mortality

*Target:* Reduce by three quarters.

There are no reliable figures. An estimated 500,000 women die each year from treatable or preventable complications of pregnancy or childbirth. In sub-Saharan Africa a woman’s risk of dying from such complications over the course of her lifetime is 1 in 16, compared with 1 in 3,800 in the rich world.

graph of Total net enrolment in primary education


*Target:* Ensure that by 2015 children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary education.

*Comment:* In sub-Saharan Africa 30% of primary school age children are still out of school. Worldwide, 77 million children do not go to school; 781 million adults cannot read or write, of whom two-thirds are women.

graph of Proportion of world land area covered by forest


*Goal:* Reverse loss of environmental resources.

*Comment:* Forests are still being lost rather than renewed.

Carbon dioxide emissions – billions of metric tons

*Comment:* Emissions continue a relentless rise. Counter measures have been ineffective. Projections suggest that unless the rise is not just halted but reversed by 2015, then changes to the climate will be both uncontrollable and catastrophic.

  1. _Amnesty International Annual Report 2007_.
  2. The statistical tables are taken from the UN _Millennium Development Goals Report 2007_, available online at http://mdgs.un.org Other data and comment are taken from _Social Watch Report_, also available online at www.socialwatch.org

New Internationalist issue 408 magazine cover This article is from the January-February 2008 issue of New Internationalist.
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