The Amnesty International, the well-known human rights organization, is to launch a global campaign called "Demand Dignity" to protest abuses that fuel poverty.
Releasing its "Report 2009: State of the World's Human Rights," the organization's Secretary General Irene Khan said, "... we will mobilize people to seek accountability of national and international actors for human rights abuses that drive and deepen poverty. We will challenge discriminatory laws, policies and practices, and demand concrete measures to overcome the factors that impoverish and keep people poor. We will bring the voices of people living in poverty to the centre of the debate to end poverty and insist that they are allowed to participate actively in decisions that affect their lives.
"We also "demand dignity" for prisoners of poverty so that they can change their own lives."
Ms.Khan said, "The economic downturn has aggravated abuses, distracted attention from them and created new problems...
"In the name of security, human rights were trampled on. Now, in the name of economic recovery, they are being relegated to the back seat."
"Billions of people are suffering from insecurity, injustice and indignity," Khan added. "This crisis is about shortages of food, jobs, clean water, land and housing, and also about deprivation and discrimination, growing inequality, xenophobia and racism, violence and repression across the world."
Amnesty cited specific trouble spots, including:
-- Surging food prices leading to more hunger and disease.
-- Economic development forcing hundreds of thousands of residents from slums and rural areas.
-- Marginalized and indigenous people in countries such as Brazil, India and Mexico being denied basic necessities, despite economic growth.
-- Countries such as Myanmar, North Korea and Zimbabwe using food as a political weapon.
-- Countries such as Libya, Mauritania and Morocco further tightening borders against migrants, with the European Union colluding with those governments.
"Our first demand in our new campaign is to the U.S.A. and China," Khan said. "The United States does not accept the notion of economic, cultural and social rights, while China does not respect civil and political rights. Both governments must sign up to all human rights for all."
By the end of 2008, it was clear that our two-tier world of deprivation and gluttony - the impoverishment of many to satisfy the greed of a few - was collapsing into a deep hole.
As with the case of climate change, so too with global economic recession: the rich are responsible for most of the damaging action, but it is the poor who suffer the worst consequences. While no one is being spared the sharp bite of the recession, the woes of the rich countries are nothing compared with the disasters unfolding in poorer ones. From migrant workers in China to miners in Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), people desperately trying to drag themselves out of poverty are feeling the brunt sharply. The World Bank has predicted 53 million more people will be thrown into poverty this year, on top of the 150 million hit by the food crisis last year, wiping out the gains of the last decade. International Labour Organization figures suggest that between 18 and 51 million people could lose their jobs. Skyrocketing food prices are leading to more hunger and disease, forced evictions and foreclosures to more homelessness and destitution.
"The world needs a different kind of leadership, a different kind of politics as well as economics - something that works for all and not just for a favoured few."
The campaign's focus will include slums, forced evictions, maternal mortality, women's right to sexual and reproductive health, and corporate accountability for human rights abuses, Amnesty said.