Skip to main content

Press releases Special Procedures

UN expert on extreme poverty and human rights to visit USA, one of the wealthiest countries in the world

US poverty mission

29 November 2017

GENEVA (29 November 2017) – The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, will visit the United States from 1 to 15 December 2017 to examine government efforts to eradicate poverty in the country, and how they relate to US obligations under international human rights law.

“Some might ask why a UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights would visit a country as rich as the United States. But despite great wealth in the US, there also exists great poverty and inequality,” said Mr. Alston.

“I would like to focus on how poverty affects the civil and political rights of people living within the US, given the United States’ consistent emphasis on the importance it attaches to these rights in its foreign policy, and given that it has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

He will meet government officials, people living in poverty, civil society organizations and academic experts to address a wide range of key areas including the criminal justice system, welfare and healthcare, barriers to political participation, homelessness, and basic social rights such as the right to social protection, housing, water and sanitation.

During his visit, the Special Rapporteur will travel to the follow States:

Dec 1 Washington, D.C.
Dec 4-5 Los Angeles, California
Dec 6 San Francisco, California
Dec 7-8 Montgomery, Alabama
Dec 9 Atlanta, Georgia
Dec 10-11 Puerto Rico
Dec 12 Washington, D.C.
Dec 13 Charleston, West Virginia
Dec 14-15 Washington, D.C.

The Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary observations and recommendations at a press conference on Friday 15 December 2017 at 12:00 local time at 2121 K Street NW, Suite 800B, Washington D.C.

The press conference will be live-streamed and will have a dial-in opportunity for journalists. Details will be available on the Special Rapporteur’s website.

Mr. Alston’s final report on his US visit will be available in Spring 2018 and will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2018. He is mandated by the Council to monitor, report and advise on extreme poverty and human rights around the world.


Mr. Philip Alston (Australia) took up his functions as the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in June 2014. As a Special Rapporteur, he is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Follow the Special Rapporteur on Twitter @Alston_UNSRand Facebook at

More information on the visit of the Special Rapporteur can be found on his web page.

For more information and media requests, please contact:
Ms. Junko Tadaki (email: [email protected] / Phone: + 41 79 444 3781 (during the visit) / + 41 22 917 9298 (before and after the visit)

Ms. Deborah DeYoung (email: [email protected] / phone: + 1 202-276-8670)

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at