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Dharam Shourie at the United Nations
Despite 81 countries embracing democracy in the last two decades of the 20th century, the progress has been stalled with some countries slipping into authoritarian rule, says a new UN report.
While 140 of the world's nearly 200 countries hold multi-party elections, only 82 are fully democratic, with institutions such as a free press and an independent judiciary,
the report said and called for a new wave of democracy-building to give ordinary people a greater say in both national and global policy making.
The United Nations Development Programme report titled 'Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World' said many countries do not seem to be in transition or have lapsed back into authoritarian rule, as in the Democratic Republic of Sierra Leone.
"Myanmar and Pakistan have returned to military form of government. Failed states like Afghanistan and Somalia have become breeding grounds for extremism and violent conflict," it added.
Aid to developing countries fell in the last ten years. For Africa it halved, dropping from $ 39 to $ 19 per person annually.
Donor countries continued to subsidise their farmers at a rate of $ 1 billion a day, more than six times their total aid to poor countries, flooding markets with cheap
imports and squeezing out farmers from poor countries.
As many as 52 countries ended the decade poorer than at its beginning, and though the number of people living in extreme poverty was nearly halved in Asia, it grew in all other regions, jeopardizing progress towards the millennium development goal of halving poverty by 2015.
Most parts of the world, the report said, have made progress in human development, but 21 countries registered a decline in the Human Development Index, based on life expectancy, education and income per person, during the 1990s.
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