Monday, December 11, 2006

"Nobel laureate condemns 'war on terror'"

I blogged at the time of the G20 Summit that it was urgent that world leaders focussed on the eradication of poverty as the key to global security.

Now "Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus has urged world leaders to get on with the fight against poverty, upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

He has called on world leaders to stop spending money on wars like the one in Iraq.

The 63-year-old and the Grameen Bank he founded have won the peace prize for their work to lift millions out of poverty by granting tiny loans to the poorest of the poor, especially women in rural Bangladesh.

Mr Yunus and Grameen Bank representative Mosammat Taslima Begum have received gold medals and diplomas at a ceremony at Oslo's City Hall to applause from about 1,000 guests.

The prize created by the Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel comes with a cheque for 10 million Swedish crowns ($A1.85 million) to be shared by the prize winners.

In the prepared text of his acceptance speech, Mr Yunus says the link between a peaceful world and fight against poverty is clear.

"Poverty is a threat to peace," he said.

He says the new millennium began with a dream to cut poverty in half by 2015, as agreed by world leaders in the United Nations millennium goals in 2000.

"But then came September 11 and the Iraq war, and suddenly the world became derailed from the pursuit of this dream, with the attention of world leaders shifting from the war on poverty to the war on terrorism," Mr Yunus said.

"I believe terrorism cannot be won over by military action."

I said in my earlier piece that "In some countries the poor do not register on the human development index. They have dropped off the statisticians’ radar. They leave so little evidence of their daily struggle to exist.

We urgently need a leadership that has the vision to make bold decisions and to bridge the dangerous north-south divide in ways that reflect the principle that poverty is anathema to human rights."

The war on terror increases global insecurity, whilst a concerted war on poverty that departs significantly from the charity mindset would reduce tensions exponentially.

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