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Poverty and human rights such as the right to food and social security are interrelated. The right to adequate food is an essential human right, yet hundreds of millions of persons remain food insecure. Poverty and growing inequality is one of the underlying causes of food insecurity. Poverty erodes or nullifies the rights to adequate food, housing, health, safe water, education and others.

Social protection can play a key role in the progressive realization of the right to adequate food for all. Social protection programmes contribute to the eradication of poverty and hunger by transferring resources to people living in poverty, enabling them to generate income, protect their assets and accumulate human capital.

Prior to COVID-19, significant unrest was already spreading across the globe, due to inequalities and lack of respect for economic, social and cultural rights. Human rights considerations have too often been missing from work related to development and economics. COVID-19 has exposed the fragility of most economies, with millions falling back into poverty.

Our work

UN Human Rights provides guidance to States on laws, policies and action plans to promote the enjoyment of the right to food and social protection. We work with our sister UN agencies to integrate human rights-based approaches into poverty reduction strategies, social security and food programmes. We support the UN Special Rapporteurs on extreme poverty and human rights, and on the right to food. We address poverty and challenges to the right to food and social security for specific groups like women, indigenous peoples and peasants.

UN Human Rights works with rights holders and duty bearers via our country presences, UN Country Teams to actively increase the amount and quality of work being done related to poverty, social protection and right to food using various tools including a human rights approach to economic decision-making.

Learn more about our work on poverty reduction, the right to food, and the right to social security.

Who else is involved

The Special Rapporteur on the right to food

The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert who promotes the full realization of the right to food, as well as the right of everyone to be free from hunger. The Special Rapporteur monitors the situation of the right to food throughout the world, and communicates with States and other parties with regard to alleged cases of violations.

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Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights

This mandate, created by the Human Rights Council in 1998, aims to give greater prominence to the plight of those living in extreme poverty, and to highlight the human rights consequences of such poverty. The Special Rapporteur works with States and other relevant actors to identify approaches for removing obstacles to the enjoyment of human rights for people living in extreme poverty.

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