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Ad hoc Working Group on the implementation of existing human rights norms and standards in the context of the fight against extreme poverty

In its resolution 2001/31, the Commission on Human Rights requested the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to consider the need to develop guiding principles on the implementation of existing human rights norms and standards in the context of the fight against extreme poverty. Consequently, the Sub-Commission, in its resolution 2001/8, requested four of its experts from different geographical areas, to prepare a joint working paper on this subject. The experts are Sérgio Paulo Pinheiro, Yozo Yokota, El Hadji Guissé and José Bengoa.

The working paper is to be submitted in three stages:

  • In 2003, the experts submitted their preliminary working paper (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/17), which includes some clarification on the integral link between human rights and poverty, including extreme poverty. The paper also proposes for consideration by the Sub-Commission the underlying principles of a conceptual framework for the elaboration of guiding principles on existing human rights norms and standards in the context of the fight against poverty, including extreme poverty.

  • During a seminar held in India , in January 2004, members of the ad hoc group of experts of the Sub-Commission reconfirmed their view on the need for guiding principles on human rights and poverty/extreme poverty, considering it to be a useful tool of empowerment for those suffering under these plagues. They decided to proceed with the preparation of draft elements on such guiding principles as a way to illustrate the value such a document could have. The Conference Working Paper (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2004/25/Add.1) submitted in 2004 contains these draft elements and, in an annex, preliminary comments received from various counterparts.

  • After consultations with a variety of counterparts, the working group met again in 2004 to explore elements which might be incorporated into a document on human rights and extreme poverty. At the meeting, a number of basic principles as well as themes and issues relevant to the preparation of such a document were considered and a methodology based on consultations was proposed. The interim report (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2004/25) presents a summary of those discussions along with conclusions and recommendations.

  • Additionally, a working paper (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2004/44) has been submitted by José Bengoa. The paper conceptualizes poverty, in particular extreme poverty resulting in social exclusion, as a violation of human rights. To this end it surveys a number of current initiatives and advocates a conception of poverty as an absence or underdevelopment of human capabilities and freedoms. The document concludes by emphasizing the need to empower the poor as a poverty-reduction human rights strategy.

The final report is expected for the fifty-seventh session of the Sub-Commission.