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The right to not be poor:
Poverty as a violation of human rights

Social Watch

September 2006

SARPN acknowledges Social Watch as the source of this document:
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Poverty has become a globalized phenomenon; it features on the agendas for action of governments, multilateral bodies and civil society organizations all over the world.

From the human rights perspective, poverty constitutes a multiple violation of human beings’ fundamental rights and above all a violation of the right to lead a decent life as is laid down in international human rights agreements. This right basically amounts to being able to live out one’s life as a human being with dignity, and to be able to enjoy a decent life in which the individual is valued and is able to give the best of him- or herself to society. There is no doubt that many variables and dimensions are involved in this ideal.

The Social Watch Research Team1 is publishing this Occasional Paper with the aim of exploring this relation and contributing to a greater understanding of it. This involves questioning the traditional approach that regards people in general and people living in poverty in particular merely as the “beneficiaries” or the “object” of policies and programmes. We believe that in social development people and communities should be duly accorded the status of active “subjects” who fully participate in this development. In this way, povertyrelated issues are viewed from the perspective of the exercise of human rights, demonstrating the inalienability of the right to not be poor, which goes beyond the political will of governments.

The various articles included here represent the opinions of individuals and networks that have been working for years to defend and promote respect for human rights. This booklet is a collection of articles by the Social Watch Research Team, Equipo Pueblo (the Social Watch focal point in Mexico), Dignity International, ESCR-Net, Provea Venezuela, and the Red de EducaciСѓn Popular entre Mujeres, which are all organizations that Social Watch has cooperated with to organize meetings, workshops and courses on the subject of human rights.

The main idea behind this booklet grew out of a discussion that took place at a workshop on “Poverty and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”, on 27 January 2006 in Caracas, during the 2006 World Social Forum.2 We would like to thank all the participants in that workshop who contributed to the ideas set out here.

Our aim is to go deeper, to analyze and debate the connection between poverty and human rights in pursuit of conceptualizations that will reinforce our day to day work of lobbying and trying to influence the policies that governments implement to eradicate poverty and promote respect for human rights.

Social Watch Research Team

  1. The Social Watch Research Team is made up of Karina BatthyР±ny (coordinator), Mariana Cabrera, Graciela Dede, Daniel Macadar and Ignacio Pardo.
  2. This workshop was organized by Social Watch and co-hosted by REPEM. Those responsible for the presentations were Graciela Dede, a member of the Social Watch Research Team, Areli Sandoval of Equipo Pueblo in Mexico, Iara Pietricovsky of INESC in Brazil and Iliana Pereyra of REPEM. The networks and organizations that participated included the Uruguayan Section of Amnesty International, the International Habitat Coalition for Latin America, the FСѓrum Estadual Mulheres Negras de Brasil, ILSA from Colombia, the Inter-American Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development, and PROVEA Venezuela.

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