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UN human rights forum to focus on poverty and inequalities

06 October 2020

GENEVA (6 October 2020) – Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic estimated to push another 176 million people into poverty, the Human Rights Council Social Forum opens this Thursday to address the question of how to break the cycles of poverty and inequalities.

"The Social Forum will provide a unique opportunity to discuss and analyze the complex causal chain of poverty and inequality from a micro-level to a macro-level," said Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. The discussions at the Forum will be guided by a "poverty matrix" developed by De Schutter, which illustrates the interconnected causal factors of poverty and inequalities at different levels.

"The analysis of the 'poverty matrix' should lead to a clearer framework of accountability, so no actor can evade its obligations and responsibilities to eliminate poverty and inequality by simply pointing the finger at others," said the UN expert.

The Forum will include panels on intergenerational transmission of poverty, obstacles to realizing the right to development, fiscal and tax justice, the role of the State and public policies, the global economy and financing for sustainable development. It will also address issues in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including access to medicines and vaccines, debt relief, feminization of poverty, and social protection.

The Forum will bring together more than 30 distinguished panellists from diverse backgrounds and geographical regions, including State representatives, UN independent experts, academics, representatives of international organizations, civil society activists, trade unions, journalists, and people with lived experience of poverty and inequalities.

The Programme of Work and other details are available on the Social Forum webpage and Sched. The Forum will take place on 8 and 9 October in a hybrid format at Palais des Nations in Geneva and online. Registrations to participate in the Forum, either in person or online, are open to all interested stakeholders at: The Social Forum will be broadcast live on UN Web TV.

The Social Forum is open to the media and participating panellists can be contacted for media interviews.


Background: The Social Forum is an annual meeting convened by the Human Rights Council and provides a unique space for open and interactive dialogue among all stakeholders on a specific theme chosen each year. In accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 41/24, the 2020 Social Forum will focus on "Good Practices, Success Stories, Lessons Learned and Current Challenges in Combating Poverty and Inequalities". The 2020 Social Forum is co-chaired by the Permanent Representatives of Azerbaijan and Mongolia.

Mr. Olivier De Schutter (Belgium) is the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. He took up his functions in May 2020. Mr. De Schutter is a Professor of Law at UCLouvain and at SciencesPo (Paris). He was the Special Rapporteur on the right to food from 2008 to 2014, and a member of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights between 2015 and 2020.

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are 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.

For further information and media requests, please contact: Shyami Puvimanasinghe ([email protected] / +41 22 928 9182) and Diego Valadares Vasconcelos Neto ([email protected] / +41 22 9179177), or write to: [email protected]

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