Dignity and respect for human rights, for a world without poverty

Dignity and respect for human rights, for a world without poverty

October 17, 2018

Dignity and respect for human rights, for a world without poverty

Economic issues as well as respect for human rights and sustainability in everyday life were at the center of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Everywhere in the world there are men and women condemned to a life of poverty, in which their human rights are violated. It's our duty to come together to make sure these rights are respected”. With these words, father Joseph Wresinski was one of the first people to highlight the connection between poverty and respect for human rights, including the right to food, the topic of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2018, celebrated like every year on October 17. More than 30 years after Wresinski's call to action to fight poverty, presented at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1987, poverty remains a dominant issue and despite the efforts, no solution has been found. Thus, the importance of a day dedicated to a fight that remains an unresolved global challenge and was officially recognized as such 25 years ago (1992), by the United Nations. It is also an opportunity to recognize the human rights and problems of the most poor and listen to their voices.  

The first sustainable development goal

The first of the 17 sustainable development goals is eradicating poverty and the data on the issue immediately shows why: there are 783 million people living below the poverty line – recognized internationally as 1.90 US dollars per day. In 2016, approximately 10% of workers and their families lived below this line and only 45% of the world's population had some form of social protection. The countries most affected by extreme poverty are South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, while the most affected categories include women, children, indigenous groups, the elderly and people with disabilities. Not even the countries with high levels of income are immune from poverty; in fact, 30 million poor children live in the richest countries. Many objectives have been achieved, but many more Sustainable Development Goals have been set by the experts at the United Nations for 2030, 


for example: reducing by at least 50% the number of men, women and children that live in poverty, ensuring the right to food and adequate access to basic resources and services for the entire world population, by building its resiliency to the challenges posed by events connected with climate change, war and natural catastrophes. 

Together to say enough is enough

One thing is for sure: increasing the income of those who today are considered poor is not enough to eradicate poverty. Poverty is also the result of the violation of human rights and the dignity of the people who in many parts of the world have no access to the most basic commodities, such as drinking water and sufficient food and have no decisional power on their future, which compromises their right to food and access to healthy and sustainable food. 

Governments alone cannot contain such a deep-rooted problem. There is a need for a global mobilization able to get citizens at all levels of society involved, including those who every day experience the drama of poverty directly. There are many different tools that can be used to get people involved. In 2017, the member states of the United Nations launched Third Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018-2027) with a very specific theme: “Accelerating global actions for a world without poverty”. In 2012, the Human Rights Council published a document ad hoc to guide countries in their choice of the most appropriate measures to support the respect of poor people's human rights. Science can give its contribution creating strategies and tools to facilitate access to resources and citizens should be sensitive to other people's needs, aware of the fact that economic and social inequalities translate into disadvantages that affect everyone, not just the poorest countries. Economist Jeffrey Sachs contributed a positive note: ending extreme poverty is possible and requires an investment of approximately $175bn dollars per year, less than 1% of the income of the richest countries. 

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