Mr. Philip Alston is the current Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. This position is honorary and the expert is not a staff of the United Nations nor paid for his/her work.
Since 1979, special mechanisms have been created by the United Nations to examine specific country situations or themes from a human rights perspective. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, replaced by the Human Rights Council in June 2006, has mandated experts to study particular human rights issues. These experts constitute what are known as the United Nations human rights mechanisms or mandates, or the system of special procedures.
For more information on the Special Rapporteurs, please refer to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx
Extreme Poverty and Human rights
Today almost half of the population in developing countries lives in extreme poverty, and are denied basic human rights such as the right to an adequate standard of living, including food and housing, the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and education.
People living in poverty across the world are often socially excluded and marginalized from political power and processes.
Their right to effectively participate in public affairs is often ignored.
The elimination of extreme poverty is not a question of charity, but a pressing human rights issue. States are legally obligated to realize human rights for all, prioritizing the most vulnerable, includingthose living in extreme poverty.
Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
The mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights was established to evaluate the relationship between the enjoyment of human rights and extreme poverty. The expert is required by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back to member States on initiatives taken to promote and protect the rights of those living in extreme poverty.
Objectives of the mandate
Through its resolutions 8/11 and 17/13, the Human Rights Council requests the Special Rapporteur to:
- Identify approaches for removing all obstacles, including institutional ones, to the full enjoyment of human rights for people living in extreme poverty and to identify efficient measures to promote their rights.
- Make recommendations on how persons living in extreme poverty can participate in the definition of measures affecting them.
- Study the impact of discrimination and to pay particular attention to the situation of women, children and other vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities living in extreme poverty.
- Participate in the assessment of the implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty and to submit recommendations on the realization of Millennium Development Goals, in particular the first goal.
- Develop cooperation with United Nations bodies dealing with the same subject and to continue participating in relevant international conferences on extreme poverty.
In the fulfilment of the mandate, the Special Rapporteur:
- Responds to information received concerning the human rights situation of people living in extreme poverty;
- Develops constructive dialogue with Governments, international organizations, civil society and other relevant actors with a view to identifying ways to remove all obstacles to the full enjoyment of human rights for people living in extreme poverty.
- Submits annual reports to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly on the activities of the mandate.
- Communicates with States and other concerned parties with regard to alleged cases of violations of the human rights of people living in poverty and social exclusion (See Individual Complaints) and other issues related to the mandate.