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Economic growth is not benefiting the poor in Mongolia, warns UN expert on extreme poverty

ULAANBAATAR (7 December 2012) – “The Mongolian economy has continued to show impressive double-digit growth despite the global economic and financial crisis, yet the poorest of the poor are not enjoying the benefits of such growth,” warned today the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda, at the end of her first fact-finding mission* to the country.

“While some parts of the country are being transformed, poverty remains very high and is becoming entrenched not only in rural areas but also in urban centres as the income gap widens and inequality increases” Ms. Sepúlveda noted. “The fact that poverty levels remain high and there are increasing inequalities is a clear demonstration that the benefits of economic growth have not trickled down to the poor.”

The rights expert expressed concern about the challenges faced by the groups most vulnerable and severely affected by poverty and social exclusion in Mongolia, such as women, children and youth, persons with disabilities, older persons, internal migrants, herders and nomadic communities, ethnic minorities, LGBT, persons living with HIV/AIDS and stateless persons.

“I have found that, for the most part, Mongolia has established a robust legal framework, recognizing that everyone must enjoy the rights to education, health, housing, food, etc. However, the laws do not necessarily translate into the everyday reality for many Mongolians,” noted Ms. Sepúlveda, stressing that “there are severe implementation gaps in almost all social policies, ranging from domestic violence to trafficking.”

The Special Rapporteur urged the Mongolian Government to devise and adopt a poverty reduction strategy based on human rights that includes time-bound benchmarks, effective implementation plans, monitoring and accountability mechanisms to ensure authorities comply with their mandates. “Mongolia must foresee the necessary budgetary implications and ensure sustainability in the long term and implement the strategy with strong cross-sectorial coordination through the leadership of a designated ministry,” she said.

“The Government must immediately address the critical needs and pressing problems of the poorest and most marginalized in Mongolian society as a matter of priority,” the expert stressed. “The poorest sectors of society must be assured that their rights will be protected, adequate resources will be provided and that they will be able to access basic services.”

“Those living in poverty in Mongolia can wait no longer,” she underscored.

During her five-day mission, Ms. Sepúlveda met with, senior Government officials, donor agencies, international organizations, financial institutions, civil society and communities living in poverty both within the capital and surrounding ger districts, as well as Erden soum in the Tuv province of the country.

The UN Special Rapporteur addressed some key findings and recommendations during a press conference today that will be further developed in the report to the Human Rights Council in June 2013.

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 is independent from any government or organization. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/SRExtremePovertyIndex.aspx

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement by the Special Rapporteur: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12874&LangID=E

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

For further information and media enquiries, please contact:
In Geneva: Orlagh McCann (+ 41 22 917 9695 / srextremepoverty@ohchr.org)
In Ulaanbaatar: Erdenebulgan Davaa (+976 11 327 585 / erdenebulgan.davaa@one.un.org) or Orlagh McCann (+41 79 201 0122 / omccann@ohchr.org)

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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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