The United Nations yesterday published its annual report on human development. This year's report concentrates on the role of democracy in reforming society. According to the authors, for the successful development of civilization politics is just as important as economics. The UN says that in order to prosper even the smallest nations need a strong opposition. The highest places in the UN's list are occupied by countries where human rights are respected, everyone has access to education, and the environment is protected.
Experts evaluated the developmental parameters of 173 countries. These included average income, projected life expectancy and the level of literacy. For the second year running, the list is headed by Norway, with Sweden in second place, Canada in third, followed by Belgium and Austria. The bottom of the list is occupied almost exclusively by African countries. In 173rd and last place, according to the UN, is Sierra Leone.
Russia is in 60th place, between Malaysia and the Dominican Republic. Last year Malaysia was one place behind Russia. Twelve years ago Russia occupied an unusually high 40th place and was a member of the elite club of countries with a high level of development. Today, Uruguay is in 40th place.
This year the authors of the UN report state that the position of countries in the list depends directly on their level of democracy. According to the UN analysts, democratic countries pay more attention to individual rights and needs than dictatorships. The UN declares that although 140 countries are considered to be democratic, only 70 genuinely merit this definition. The experts point out that in countries which stop half way along the road to democracy, there often arise reasons for the population to be dissatisfied with the government. This, in turn, can lead to the growth of radical and extremist organisations.
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