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While the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010 was an act of nature, the country’s underlying state of poverty has largely man-made causes. Slavery, occupation and crippling historical debt, coupled with high levels of corruption and political turmoil, have made Haiti one of the world’s least developed countries. Former UN relief coordinator Jan Egeland asks why we ‘continue to administer expensive band-aids’.

Throughout this issue, we call for action that will help Haiti’s long-term development, like debt cancellation and preferential access for low-income countries to our markets, alongside emergency help.

This issue also seeks to challenge perceptions. Helen Clark argues that migration can be positive, even during a recession; we analyse how big a fiasco the Copenhagen climate conference was; and, as part of our Towards Zero campaign, we look at what role Britain, the smallest recognised nuclear state, can play in global disarmament.

How the UN itself is perceived will be shaped by its efforts in all these areas. Have your say on how the UN could work better at two major UNA-UK events – UN Forum 2010 and our youth wing’s Annual Conference.

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