Addressing global inequalities

Inequalities are a 'global challenge', says a new report from United Nations agencies. Similar kinds of inequalities are faced in common by people across the world, and they have deep consequences for everyone in society.

The report presents the outcome of a global consultation exercise, including an open online forum for input from the public and non-government groups.

Key messages

  • The obligation to address inequalities derives from international human rights treaties, as well as from human values shared across continents and cultures.
  • Translating equality into practice, along with the other fundamental values of the Millennium Declaration, will be crucial to improving the well-being of both today’s and all future generations.
  • Inequalities are a global challenge. They persist both within all countries and between them. Similar kinds of inequalities are faced in common by people across the world.
  • Inequalities are not just problems for the people whose lives are most directly affected – those most disadvantaged and excluded. They have deep consequences for everyone in society by: reducing the pace and sustainability of economic growth; diminishing the productive potential of all who are harmed and excluded; worsening existing fragilities and vulnerabilities, including to conflict and natural disasters; and weakening social cohesion and security.
  • Since the Millennium Declaration was adopted, many types of inequalities have worsened. Even where human development progress has been rapid in aggregate terms, particular inequalities have often persisted or become more severe.
  • Market economies favour the interests of those who already have an advantage. Furthermore, policies that seek to replace public provision of basic social needs with market-based approaches have often disadvantaged the poorest and most marginalised groups.
  • Multiple deprivation and inequalities are often closely associated with, and reinforced by, specific forms of discrimination in the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Examples include discrimination related to gender, age, caste, race, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation.
  • A development framework will be needed that is based on the recognition that all people have rights, and that incorporates and reflects human rights principles, if the structural drivers of inequalities are to be fully addressed in future.

SourceAddressing Inequalities: Synthesis Report of Global Public Consultation, UNICEF/UN Women