ATD Forth World
What can be learnt from those working with families living in extreme poverty around the world? This panel brought together an expert working group on the need to develop guiding principles on the implementation of existing human rights norms and standards in the context of the fight against extreme poverty.
This panel served as a basis for initial discussion elements for a possible draft declaration or guiding principles on human rights, poverty and extreme poverty.
Poverty and, in particular, extreme poverty and exclusion from society constitute a violation of human dignity and a denial of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Poverty, from a human rights perspective, can be seen as "the non-fulfillment of a person's rights to a range of basic capabilities to do and to be the things that the person may value", or "the failure of basic capabilities to reach certain minimally acceptable levels."
In the light of the International Bill of Human Rights, poverty has been defined by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as "a human condition characterized by sustained or chronic deprivation of resources, capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights."
Extreme poverty has been recognized as a more serious, often hidden form of poverty, with more permanent consequences extending to a wide range of human rights and which requires special efforts to reach and eliminate. Extreme poverty can be seen as "...a lack of basic security which ... simultaneously affects several aspects of people's lives, when it is prolonged and when it severely compromises people's chances of regaining their rights and of reassuming their responsibilities in the foreseeable future."
Poverty, extreme poverty and consequent human rights violations are to be found in countries throughout the world. Most acutely in developing countries and countries in transition, but people in all states are affected in varying degrees.
Certain groups are more vulnerable to poverty than others because of discrimination or their weak position in society; minorities and indigenous peoples. Women and girls bear a disproportionate burden of poverty and children growing up in poverty are often permanently disadvantaged.
The extent and seriousness of poverty and extreme poverty and their impact on human rights is universally recognized. Nelson Mandela, in his statement to the World Summit for Social Development, described poverty is the new face of apartheid, and the new face of slavery.
In extreme poverty, human rights violations are linked in a concatenation of misfortunes, one violation leading to another in "vicious circles of poverty". There is the "horizontal circle of poverty" in which one misfortune leads to or reinforces another and the "vertical vicious circle" as poverty passes from one generation to another. Extreme poverty is a situation of deep and mutually reinforcing insecurity across a whole range of essential rights.
Interpretation from and to English, Spanish and French.