Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights statement on extreme poverty and human rights
UN Human Rights Council 29th session
June 2015, Geneva
Oral Statement given by the
Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
in relation to Item #3, Clustered Interactive Dialogue with
Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human right
The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, on the relationship between inequality and extreme poverty. We welcome in particular the Special Rapporteur’s challenge to us all to revitalise the fundamental human rights principle of equality and, critically we think, to put economic, social and cultural rights and questions of resources and redistribution, at the centre of human rights debates, including in this Council.
Despite the rhetoric, economic, social and cultural rights remain marginalised in this Council and questions of resources and redistribution are often dismissed as irrelevant to its discussions. To really tackle extreme poverty and the daily indignities and human rights violations inherent in the lives of so many people around the world, the Council needs to engage in discussions about the economic sphere. For example, we need to recognise that fiscal policy, including taxation policy, are human rights issues. Taxation is a key component of States’ treaty obligations to use the ‘maximum available resources’ to progressively realise rights, and it plays a fundamental role in redistributing resources in ways that can prevent and redress inequalities and can protect national and global common goods. Further, States should ensure that their work with the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank embraces human rights and that they build policy coherence between the economic and human rights spheres which so often work in silos and do not speak a common language.
The Special Rapporteur’s report also clearly articulates the link between equality and economic and political power and how discrimination is frequently at the source of inequality. In this respect we highlight the female face of poverty and the multiple and intersecting discrimination and negative gender stereotypes that continue to subjugate women and impede efforts to achieve equality between men and women. Not only do discrimination and stereotypes prevent women from escaping poverty, but they inhibit women’s political participation and therefore their ability to influence the distribution of resources.
Finally, in terms of resources and distribution, we know that land is an essential resource for so many people living in poverty around the world and particularly those in rural areas, and that access to and control over land directly affects the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights. Further, conflicts over land are frequently at the heart of human rights violations both economic, social and cultural, and civil and political, and we know that human rights defenders working on land and environment issues are amongst the most at risk of all defenders. So we echo the Special Rapporteur’s call for this Council to put questions of control of resources, such as land, at the centre of its human rights debates, in order to address the global problem of extreme poverty.
The Special Rapporteur’s Report can be found HERE.