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Report on the Country visit to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Issued by

Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights


04 February 2019


Issued by Special Procedures


Special Procedures, Country visits, Economic inequality

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The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, conducted an official country visit to the Lao People's Democratic Republic from 18 to 28 March 2019 at the invitation of the government. His visit focused on the links between poverty and the realisation of human rights in the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

The Special Rapporteur presented the report on his visit to the Human Rights Council at its 41st session in June 2019.


Since its independence, the Lao People's Democratic Republic has achieved impressive economic growth, despite the legacy of imperialism and the widespread unexploded ordnance in its territory. Poverty levels have diminished significantly, but high levels of growth driven by the exploitation of natural resources and foreign investment have not translated into commensurate reductions in poverty. Eighty per cent of the population still lives on less than $2.50 per day. Inequality is rising, as urban elites prosper, and many lower-income people have been deprived of their land and access to vital natural resources. The Lao People's Revolutionary Party holds a monopoly over the political system, and political freedoms are largely non-existent.

The report should be read in conjunction with the Special Rapporteur's end of mission statement, which contains a detailed assessment of those issues and of the particular challenges that arise for people in rural areas, women and ethnic minority groups.

Inputs Received
Inputs Received

While all submissions were welcome and the questions below were not meant to be exhaustive, the Special Rapporteur was grateful for comments that addressed topics such as:

  • The nature of poverty and inequality in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, including how poverty is or should be defined, its prevalence, and its distribution.
  • The major challenges confronting those living in poverty.
  • People disproportionately impacted by poverty, including women, children, minorities, and people living in rural areas.
  • The most severe human rights-related problems that people living in poverty experience.
  • The impact of poverty on civil and political rights, as well as on economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to health and the right to social security.
  • The impact of environmental issues and climate change on people living in poverty.
  • The role of infrastructure and development projects; international financial institutions and bilateral lending; and multinational or domestic corporations in relation to poverty.
  • Regions, provinces, districts, or cities in the Lao People's Democratic Republic the Special Rapporteur should visit because of specific problems relating to poverty and human rights.
  • Individuals and organisations the Special Rapporteur should meet with during his country visit.

The inputs received are available below:

Civil Society Organisations