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UN human rights expert to visit Spain to assess poverty

23 January 2020

Spanish version

GENEVA (23 January 2020) – The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, will undertake a fact-finding visit to Spain from 27 January to 7 February 2020 to investigate poverty in the country.

"Spain has the fifth largest economy in Europe and yet has strikingly high levels of poverty. This raises real questions about who has benefitted from recent growth and who has been left behind," said Alston. "It is noteworthy that more than a decade after the financial crisis, and following an impressive economic recovery, many of Spain's poverty and inequality indicators are well above pre-crisis levels."

In Spain, 26.1 percent of the population lives at risk of poverty or social exclusion, up from 23.8 percent in 2008, making it one of the highest rates in Europe. Roughly half the population have some difficulty making ends meet, and poverty is persistently higher for children, migrants, and Roma populations. Spain's unemployment rate is more than double the EU average, and there is a concerning rise of in-work poverty. The country also spends significantly less that than the EU average on many forms of social support.

"Spain's new Government has committed to improving the economic and social wellbeing of people, and my visit so early in its term provides an opportunity to assess the situation and recommend how the Government can best support those in poverty," Alston said.

The UN expert will travel to Madrid, Galicia, Basque Country, Extremadura, Andalucía and Catalonia. He will meet with government officials and individuals affected by poverty, as well as activists, academics, and representatives of civil society organisations. A preliminary schedule of the Special Rapporteur's visit, including information on select events open to press, is available on his webpage.

"I plan to look closely at how Spain's social protection system works for those in poverty, as well as the situation for those in precarious work or who face challenges accessing adequate housing, education and healthcare, particularly among vulnerable populations," Alston said.

The visit by the Special Rapporteur will be grounded in extensive input and research in advance of the mission, including a thorough review of public information, more than 60 advance telephone interviews and some 40 written submissions from people affected by poverty, civil society, academics and others. The submissions made public with the authors' consent are available here.

The Special Rapporteur will hold a news conference to share his preliminary observations and recommendations at 12 pm on Friday 7 February at the UN World Tourism Organisation, Calle del Poeta Joan Maragall, 42, Madrid.

His final report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2020.


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_UNSR and Facebook at

UN human rights, Country Page: Spain

For more information and media requests, please contact: Junko Tadaki (+41 79-201-0123; [email protected]) and Bassam Khawaja (+1 646 886 7211; [email protected])

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: The Media Unit (+ 41 22 928 9855 / [email protected])

Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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