Human rights dimension of poverty

"Wherever we lift one soul from a life of poverty, we are defending human rights.
And whenever we fail in this mission,we are failing human rights."

Kofi Annan United Nations Secretary-General

The report particularly calls on States to devote increased attention to the issue of gender equality while designing, implementing and evaluating social protection programmes within a human rights framework. The independent expert will present this report to the General Assembly in October. This report is particularly pertinent given the UN Summit being held on the Millennium Development Goals from 20 to 22 September 2010 in New York. For more information click here.

Economic deprivation – lack of income – is a standard feature of most definitions of poverty. But this in itself does not take account of the myriad of social, cultural and political aspects of the phenomenon. Poverty is not only deprivation of economic or material resources but a violation of human dignity too.

Indeed, no social phenomenon is as comprehensive in its assault on human rights as poverty. Poverty erodes or nullifies economic and social rights such as the right to health, adequate housing, food and safe water, and the right to education. The same is true of civil and political rights, such as the right to a fair trial, political participation and security of the person. This fundamental recognition is reshaping the international community’s approach to the next generation of poverty reduction initiatives.

A human rights definition and understanding leads to more adequate responses to the many facets of poverty, responses that do not trample on rights in the pursuit of growth and development. It gives due attention to the critical vulnerability and subjective daily assaults on human dignity that accompany poverty. Importantly, it looks not just at resources but also at the capabilities, choices, security and power needed for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other fundamental civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.


Report on the importance of social protection measures in achieving the Millennium Development Goals - A/65/259