UN Development Report Says Freedom Needed to Spur Economic Progress

IN this year's ``Human Development Report,'' the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) uses unusually direct language in calling for human rights as well as development improvements around the world. It also criticizes high levels of military spending in developing nations. The report, released Wednesday, includes a Human Freedom Index - a ranking of 88 nations by 40 key indicators of freedom. High levels of development - including primary education, clean water, and nutrition - correlate strongly with high levels of freedom, says Mahbub ul Haq, former Pakistani minister of finance and planning and the report's principal author.

Development has traditionally been measured using rough economic indicators such as a country's gross national product or international debt. UNDP's first ``Human Development Report'' issued last year used measures such as infant mortality, literacy, and expenditures on education to provide a more complete perspective on the actual impact of development efforts on people's everyday lives.

Mr. Haq says that the human development agenda for the 1990s is manageable but resources are being misspent: ``In the case of developing countries, ... it will take $20 to 30 billion additional to put all the children in schools, to remove malnutrition, to extend safe water supplies and primary health care to everyone.... We can't pretend that developing countries can't find $20-30 billion extra when they spend $200 billion on the military.''

About 5.5 percent of the developing world's GNP is spent on the military, the report says. ``In some of the poorest countries, this spending is at least twice that on health and education...'' UNDP recommends that developing countries adjust budgets to liberate as much as $50 billion from military spending for use in improving basic living conditions.

Several donor countries say they will consider political freedom in making future aid distributions.

The report chides industrialized nations for problems such as poverty, drug addiction, homelessness, and pollution.

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