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Ireland / Poverty: first mission by a UN Independent Expert in over a decade

6 January 2011

GENEVA – The UN Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Magdalena Sepúlveda, will visit Ireland from 10 to 15 January 2011 to study the Government’s efforts and challenges in alleviating poverty both domestically and internationally.

During her visit, the first by a UN independent human rights expert since 1999, Ms. Sepúlveda will collect first hand information about the living conditions of people experiencing poverty in Ireland and will examine how the Government is addressing their situation, in particular through the provision of social protection.

“Social protection systems are crucial in facilitating equitable access to essential services and adequate standards of living” noted the expert, who will also examine Ireland’s overseas development assistance programmes that are dedicated to poverty reduction.

Her mission will also focus on the impact of the economic and financial crisis on the most vulnerable. In this regard, she will examine the measures taken by the Irish Government to counter the adverse effects of the crisis. “Social protection must be an integral part of a sustained, broad-based recovery from the global financial crisis,” she emphasised.

The Independent Expert will hold meetings with the Minister for Equality, Human Rights and Integration, Ms Mary White TD, senior Government officials from Departments working on poverty alleviation and social policies, as well as members of the Oireachtas and representatives of the Office of the Taoiseach. She will also meet with civil society organizations and representatives of communities affected by poverty. During her mission, Ms Sepúlveda will visit Dublin, Limerick, Galway and the Midlands.

The Independent Expert’s findings and recommendations to the Government of Ireland and other stakeholders will be included in a report presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011.

A press conference will be held on Friday 14 January 2011 at 12.00 at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Dublin (Merrion House, Suite 4, 1-3 Lower Fitzwilliam St).

END

Magdalena Sepúlveda is the Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty since May 2008. She is a Chilean lawyer currently working as Research Director at the International Council on Human Rights Policy in Geneva. She has extensive experience in economic, social and cultural rights and holds a PhD in international human rights law from Utrecht University.

Learn more about the Independent Expert mandate and work: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/PovertyExpertIndex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact:
DUBLIN: Yolanda Kennedy, UNHCR (Tel.: + 353 -1 631 4614 / Email: kennedy@unhcr.org)
GENEVA: Allegra Franchetti, OHCHR (Tel.: + 41-22 917 9340 / Email: afranchetti@ohchr.org)