Human Rights and Poverty

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What is the Human Right to Freedom from Poverty?

Poverty is a human rights violation. Every woman, man, youth and child has the human right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, to food, clothing, housing, medical care and social services. These fundamental human rights are defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, CEDAW, the International Covenants and other widely adhered to international human rights treaties and Declarations — powerful tools that can empower efforts for social and economic justice worldwide.

The Human Rights at Issue

The human right to live in dignity, free from want, is itself a fundamental right, and is also essential to the realization of all other human rights — rights that are universal, indivisible, interconnected and interdependent. The right to be free from poverty includes:

The human right to an adequate standard of living.

The human right to work and receive wages that contribute to an adequate standard of living.

The human right to a healthy and safe environment.

The human right to live in adequate housing.

The human right to be free from hunger.

The human right to safe drinking water.

The human right to primary health care and medical attention in case of illness.

The human right to access to basic social services.

The human right to education.

The human right to be free of gender or racial discrimination.

The human right to participate in shaping decisions that affect oneself and one=s community.

The human right for children to develop in an environment appropriate for their physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.

Human Rights & Poverty | Governments’ Obligations | Governments’ Commitments

Governments’ Obligations to Ensuring the Human Right to Freedom from Poverty

What provisions of human rights law guarantee all persons the Human Right to Freedom from Poverty?

Includes excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Everyone … is entitled to the realization … of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity …. Everyone has the right to work …. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services…. Everyone has the right to education….”

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 22, 23, 25, 26

“States Parties … recognize the right to work…. to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work which ensure … fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind…. a decent living for themselves and their families…. the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance…. the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions…. the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger…. to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health…. to education….”

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Articles 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13

“States Parties shall … ensure to women equal rights with men in … education,…. the right to work…. access to health care…. bank loans … credit…. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure … that they participate in and benefit from rural development and … shall ensure to such women the right … to have access to adequate health care facilities…; to benefit … from social security programmes; … to enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.”

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Articles 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14

“States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination … and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, … in the enjoyment of … the right to economic, social and cultural rights, in particular … the right to work … to just and favourable remuneration … to housing … to public health, medical care, social security and social services … to education and training ….”

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Article 5

“States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development…. States Parties … shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support…, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.”

Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 27