Poverty and Human Rights Prof. Fons Coomans Outline. Human rights as a concept Poverty as a concept Relationship between human rights and poverty Human rights principles underlying poverty reduction strategies Value added of human rights based approach to poverty reduction Examples .
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Values and norms about the protection of human dignity, laid down in legal texts, that entail rights for individuals and obligations for states.
Human rights as vehicles to protect human dignity.
Requirements for a right to be recognized as a human right:
Rights relating to an adequate standard of living;
Conditions under which people live and work;
Claims to the fulfilment of basic needs;
Claims relating to the quality of life from a material and immaterial perspective;
Claims relating to opportunities to make a living and
the protection of working conditions.
Amartya Sen’s capability approach:
A person’s freedom or opportunities to achieve well-being.
Poverty: low levels and deprivation of capability.
Sen: poverty: “the failure of basic capabilities to reach certain minimally acceptable levels”.
Basic capabilities: being adequately nourished, clothed and sheltered, avoiding preventable morbidity, taking part in the life of a community and being able to appear in public with dignity.
Basic opportunities or freedoms, both negative and positive ones, which are considered as fundamental for minimal human dignity.
Consequently, poverty can be defined as:
A human condition characterized by sustained or chronic deprivation of the 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.
Poverty constitutes a denial of human rights.
(UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Statement on Poverty, 2001)
→ Who is the perpetrator?
The United Nations presently sees poverty as a cause and a product of human rights violations.
Poverty is characterized by discrimination, unequal access to resources and social and cultural stigmatization. It amounts to a denial of human rights and human dignity.
Fighting poverty is a matter of obligation, not of aspiration or charity.
Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and cooperation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.
‘Development is a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process, which aims at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution of benefits resulting there from.’
“We will spare no efforts to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected. We are committed to making the right to development a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire human race from want.”