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Mongolia: economic growth must also include the poor, says UN expert

GENEVA (28 May 2013) – With rising inequality and entrenched poverty in rural and urban areas, the poorest sectors of Mongolian society have yet to benefit from the country’s new found wealth, a United Nations expert on poverty says.

“While some are reaping the benefits of the current economic boom, the most vulnerable continue to struggle to make ends meet, with women and children often faring the worst,” warned the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda.

“To ensure a future where everyone will benefit from Mongolia’s economic growth, immediate action must be taken to implement poverty reduction strategies more effectively,” the independent rights expert urged the authorities.

Recognizing the progress the country has made, she called on the State to concentrate on developing economic and social strategies aimed at ensuring enjoyment of human rights by all, including access to education, housing, health services and justice.

Ms. Sepúlveda’s findings are drawn from a report* on the situation of persons living in extreme poverty in Mongolia which was presented today to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The report recognizes important steps already taken by the Government to implement poverty reduction measures and highlights a number of recommendations for consideration by all stakeholders.

“While I am encouraged by the Government’s efforts to tackle poverty,” the Special Rapporteur said, “I would urge the State to immediately address the increasing income gap between the rich and the poor, the lack of implementation in the legislation and develop as a matter of priority a national poverty reduction strategy based on human rights.”

The human rights expert also urged the Mongolian authorities to continue its flight against corruption, emphasizing that corruption can seriously undermine the capacity of the State to fulfill its responsibilities, disproportionately affecting those living in poverty.

“Considering the large investment projects in the country particularly in the mining sector, it is essential for Mongolia to implement a zero tolerance policy against corruption and to establish a culture of accountability,” she stressed.

Ms. Sepúlveda’s report was developed on the basis of research and information gathered, including during a visit to the country from 3 to 7 December 2012.

During the five-day visit, the Special Rapporteur met with various Government representatives as well as a number of Government agencies and held meetings with the National Statistical Office, the National Human Rights Commission along with representatives from international organizations, donor agencies, financial institutions and a range of civil society organizations.

In addition, the independent expert visited communities living in poverty in the Erden soum of Tuv province, and Darieh and Unur areas from Bayanzurh and Somginokhairkhan districts in Ulaanbaatar.

Magdalena Sepúlveda (Chile) was appointed the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in May 2008 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. She has extensive experience in economic, social and cultural rights and holds a PhD in international human rights law from Utrecht University. She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/SRExtremePovertyIndex.aspx

(*) Check the full report on Mongolia: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session23/A-HRC-23-36-Add2_en.pdf or http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session23/Pages/ListReports.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Mongolia: http://www.ohchr.org/en/countries/asiaregion/pages/mnindex.aspx

Check the Special Rapporteur’s “Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty” (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx

For further information and media enquiries, please contact Orlagh McCann (+ 41 22 917 9695 / srextremepoverty@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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