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Nairobi, April 30- As the world marks this year’s Labor Day, the United Nations Millennium Campaign is calling on African governments to use human rights approaches to tackle poverty if they are to halve the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day by 2015.

“Poverty, inequality and unemployment continue to destroy the livelihoods of people in Africa and underline the need for governments to adopt urgent measures not only to get the Millennium Development Goals back on track, but also exceed on some of the targets wherever it is possible,” said Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, UN Millennium Campaign Deputy Director for Africa.

Calling on employers to pay their workers decent wages for decent work, Dr. Tajudeen added: “Governments must desist from promoting neo-liberal market-driven policies and promoting self-serving corrupt government practices that reinforce unacceptable employment conditions, particularly for lower cadre employees. Governments should instead prove that they are protectors of the marginalized by executing pro-poor employment strategies that foster the creation of wealth, decent work and productive employment.”

In 2000, when the Millennium Declaration was signed, more than a billion people were trapped in abject poverty and gross inequality. Eight years later, children and young people who make up half of Africa’s population continue to be denied access to basic services and employment. Millions of people are working in insecure jobs and deteriorating conditions while millions more are unemployed and unable to feed their families in a world with plenty of resources, knowledge and technology.

Dr. Tajudeen further says that people should not be denied the very material and philosophical basis that allows them to flourish as human beings and calls on states to reorient their strategies to approaches that promote human rights, dignity and security.

“Poverty continues to intensify due to the exclusion of groups of people on the basis of class, caste, gender, disability, age, race, religion and other status,” he concluded.

The Millennium Campaign and its partners assert that African governments have unlimited potential to guarantee their citizens sustainable development and eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. Under international law, including the African Union charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, governments are obliged to enforce human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. This means that tackling poverty should be a major priority for governments.

In solidarity with the working people in Africa on the occasion of World Labor Day, the United Nations Millennium Campaign calls on African governments to:


  • Reverse privatization, corporatization and commercialization (cost-recovery) policies, and create national and regional programs to ensure free accessible and accountable public services, including public housing and free education for all.

  • Introduce development and diversification strategies to combat poverty and prioritize the creation of decent employment and the right to work, as major components of accelerating progress towards meeting targets set in the Millennium Development Goals.

  • Develop national plans and accompanying policies with the active and full participation of the unemployed youth, women, small traders and the informal sector.


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