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    National performance gaps.

    Dasgupta P

    In: The progress of nations, 1996, [compiled by] UNICEF. New York, New York, UNICEF, 1996. 33-4.

    This article's author argues that, at present, governments are the only resource allocation agency for promoting positive rights (PRs) and preventing widespread human destitution or ill-being. Market forces allocate resources according to purchasing power rather than need and can create poverty. Poverty, rapid population growth, and environmental degradation are forces that push people into destitution. Honoring PRs is fundamental to economic progress, social cohesion, and political stability. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child seeks to promote positive (something to be done) and negative rights (something not to be done). PRs in the Convention are the right to adequate nutrition, primary health care, and a basic education. PRs are dependent upon resources, which are affected by scarcity and competition. Negative rights are feasible without limitations and are available in rich or poor countries. Article 24 of the Convention urges countries to reduce infant and child mortality and combat disease and malnutrition. Article 4 allows that countries shall undertake the aforementioned measures to the maximum extent of their available resources. The difficulty with the Convention is the ability of countries to assess whether governments guarantee PRs to the maximum extent of available resources. The "Progress of Nations 1993" identifies the National Performance Gap as an assessment measure of the percentage of children adequately nourished, the percentage being educated to at least grade 5, and the percentage surviving to age 5 against gross national product per capita. Some argue that services and commodities necessary for better health and adequate nutrition are not rights but needs. The counterargument is that needs become rights when countries are capable of meeting that need and the need becomes essential to human well-being.
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