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AP(1/7/94): U.N. REPORT CLASSIFY BU
Subject: AP(1/7/94): U.N. REPORT CLASSIFY BURMA A 'POTENTIAL SOMALIA'
UN REPORT IDENTIFIES 17 COUNTRIES THAT COULD FACE COLLAPSE
UN DEVELOP (EMBARGOED)
EDS: EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE AT 1700 GMT WEDNESDAY (0300 AEST,
By Edith M. Lederer of The Associated Press
LONDON, June 1,AP _ A report to the United Nations today claims 17
countries could face collapse, including Mexico, Egypt, Nigeria and
Thirteen countries already are in various stages of crisis,
including Afghanistan, Angola, Haiti, Iraq, Mozambique, Burma, Sudan,
Zaire, Rwanda, Burundi, Georgia, Liberia and Tajikistan, it said.
The report said Algeria was experiencing severe internal tensions
and Egypt, Mexico and Nigeria have large regional disparities in
income and life expectancy, which are strong indicators of
"We need to know beforehand which are the potential Somalias
because we want to rush in there to help. It is too late once
Somalias have exploded," said Mahbub ul Haq, who led a team of
independent scholars that prepared the report for the UN Development
James Gustave Speth, administrator of the program, wrote in the
foreward that an early warning system, which the report attempts to
develop, "can spur preventive diplomacy and preventive development in
order to save a society from reaching a crisis point".
The report said six indicators of "human security" can help
pinpoint potential troublespots: food scarcity, high unemployment and
declining wages, human rights violations, ethnic violence, widening
regional disparities, and an overemphasis on military spending.
"Regional disparities are a particularly strong indicator because
it's not poverty alone that explains disintegration. If poor people
are concentrated in a region, then they get organised, like Chiapas
in Mexico," ul Haq said at a recent briefing.
Last year, the team analysed the status of human development in
Mexico and several other countries and found that Chiapas was at the
bottom of every graph. Their report was issued seven months before
the Jan. 1 armed rebellion in Chiapas.
"Mexican policymakers were rather upset with us last year. ...
When I went there last month they thanked us. They said, 'we wish we
had taken note of it,'" said ul Haq, a former finance minister of
Pakistan and special advisor to Speth.
This year, the team did similar analyses for Egypt, Nigeria and
"In each one of these countries, the disparities are far greater
than Chiapas. We all hope that they won't blow up. All that we are
doing is alerting the policymakers to be very mindful of the kinds of
tensions that they may have to face in these countries," ul Haq said.
The poorest region in the world is the state of Borno in eastern
Nigeria where life expectancy is 40 years and only 12 per cent of the
people are literate. "The ruling clique in Nigeria comes from Borno,"
ul Haq noted.
Excessive military spending has also proven to be a recipe for
In 1980, the three countries that spent most on arms compared to
their spending for health and education were Iraq, which spent eight
times more on the military, Somalia, which spent five times more, and
Nicaragua, which spent 3.5 times more, he said.
"Was that not an early warning system as to what will happen to
these countries?," he asked. "Within 10 years, all these three
In 1990-91, the report said, Syria topped the list spending 3.7
times more on arms than on health and education. Oman spent 3 times
more, Iraq 2.7 times more, Burma 2.2 times more, and Yemen, Angola,
Somalia and Qatar about twice as much.
The report ranks 173 countries on a Human Development Index by
combining life expectancy, educational level and basic purchasing
Canada ranks first followed by Switzerland, Japan, Sweden, Norway,
France, Australia, United States, Netherlands and Britain. The 10
countries at the bottom of the index are Guinea-Bissau, Somalia,
Gambia, Mali, Chad, Niger, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso,
The new index shows that Malaysia and Botswana have made the most
progress in human development since 1960, followed by South Korea,
Tunisia, Thailand, Syria, Turkey, China, Portugal and Iran.
The report is addressed to leaders who will be attending the World
Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in March 1995.
Among the report's major proposals for the summit to consider are:
_ A 20-20 compact in which donor countries allocate 20 per cent of
their aid money and developing countries 20 per cent of their budgets
for priority human needs such as basic education, primary health
care, safe drinking water, family planning services, and nutrition
programs. At the moment, donors are giving seven percent for these
priorities and developing countries are budgeting 10 per cent.
_ A three percent reduction in military spending over the next
five years which would create a $US460 billion ($A625.8 billion)
peace dividend to finance the world's social agenda.