Theme: “Coming together with those furthest behind to build an inclusive world of universal respect for human rights and dignity”
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is important to recall the fundamental connection between extreme poverty and human rights, and that people living in poverty are disproportionately affected by many human rights violations.
Joseph Wresinski was one of the first persons to highlight this direct link between human rights and extreme poverty. In February 1987, he appealed to the Human Rights Commission to examine the question of extreme poverty and human rights and eloquently captured the nexus between human rights and extreme poverty with his profound observation: “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.”
Government policies alone cannot create the social inclusion that is fundamental to reaching those left furthest behind and overcoming poverty in all its dimensions. The commemoration of October 17 each year, when people living in poverty take the floor and share their experiences, demonstrates how we can achieve greater social inclusion by enabling people from all walks of life to come together to respect the human rights and dignity of people living in poverty. It underscores the importance of reaching out to people living in poverty and building an alliance around their priorities with citizens from all backgrounds to end extreme poverty. It recognizes the important mutual roles and relationships we have with each other based on our common and equal dignity.
The persistence of poverty, including extreme poverty, is a major concern for the United Nations and, at its 72nd session, the General Assembly launched the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018–2027), under the theme “Accelerating global actions for a world without poverty”. It is important that the Third Decade’s inter-agency, system-wide plan of action to coordinate the poverty eradication efforts of the United Nations system includes an effective partnership with people living with poverty.
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty can strongly complement such initiatives because it aims to ensure that the active participation of people living in extreme poverty and those furthest behind is a driving force in all efforts made to overcome poverty, including in the design and implementation of programmes and policies which affect them. Only by creating and nurturing a genuine partnership with people living with poverty will it be possible to build an inclusive world where all people can enjoy their full human rights and lead lives with dignity.