by Benson Agoha
Thursday, February 20, 2014, the United Nations marked the Day of Social Justice with a call to the world's conscience to end poverty and overcome inequality.
In an official statement on United Nations website, the UN said the World Day of Social Justice should give the international community a reason to take practical steps to break the barriers of inequality by doing more to empower individuals through decent work, provide adequate social protection, and ensure the voices of the poor are heard
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “The gap between the poorest and the wealthiest around the world is wide and growing. This situation is not only between countries but within them, including many of the most prosperous,” adding: “The World Day of Social Justice is observed to highlight the power of global solidarity to advance opportunity for all.”
Ban Ki-moon said the world must serve the needs and harness the capacities of "all members of our global family, especially women, the young, older persons and persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and the poor and marginalized among us."
The UN General Assembly proclaimed 20 February as the World Day in 2007, inviting Member States to devote the day, [every year], to promoting national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the 1995 World Summit for Social Development, at which leaders pledged to pledged to make poverty eradication, full employment and the fostering of social integration overriding objectives of global development, the statement said.
In his message for the Day, Mr. Ban said that as inequalities widen, the social fabric of societies is both stretched and strained. This often leads to a downward spiral of economic and social uncertainty and even unrest. He said that violent conflict in many parts of the world is often rooted in deep inequality, discrimination, and widespread poverty, adding, “Yet there is nothing inevitable about inequality. Our shared goal should aim at taking practical steps to remove this formidable barrier to development and human dignity”.
He said that as the international community continued efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and shape a post-2015 agenda, social justice must be central to achieving equitable and sustainable growth for all.
Ban Ki-moon's call was supported by the General Assembly President John Ashe, who said the principles of equity and social justice are essential to international relations in the twenty-first century.
But the UN said major strides had been made to reduce poverty since 1995, "including reducing by half the number of people living in extreme poverty and making major improvements in the areas of health and gender equality, including steady progress towards equal access of girls and boys to primary education."
Ashe said despite accomplishments, the international community is urged to redouble collective efforts to complete the unfinished business of the MDGs. “We have more work to do if we want to reach the goals we set for ourselves,” he said.
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