A group of children sit together. One is wearing a veil.

People Living in Poverty

NOT Exclusion

UN Action


In the early 1990’s the UN General Assembly decided that extreme poverty and exclusion from society constituted a violation of human dignity (A/RES/47/134). The years that followed saw a number of initiatives adopted which developed further the idea of the nexus between the rights of individuals and extreme poverty.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has as one of its fundamental tenets that no social phenomenon is as comprehensive in its assault on human rights as poverty.

The Human Rights Commission, now the Council, acted early to appoint an independent expert on human rights and extreme poverty, charged with evaluating the relationship between the enjoyment of human rights and extreme poverty.

Conferences and summits – Millennium Declaration

icon for MDG-1The historic United Nations conference and summits held in the 1990s generated an unprecedented global consensus on a shared vision of development, which culminated in the Millennium Declaration adopted at the Millennium Summit in 2000.

This vision is based upon the premise that the human rights framework, including the right to development, provides the crucial foundation for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which placed eradication of extreme poverty and hunger as first of its eight goals.

Sustainable Development Goals

icon for SDG-1 In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all UN Member States.

Ending poverty in all its forms is the first of the 17 goals.


Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action urges States to adopt and implement social development policies with a view to closing significantly the existing gaps in living conditions faced by victims of racism. In this context, it is clear that measures to eliminate poverty and all forms of discrimination must be understood as mutually reinforcing and complementary.

Where are we?

COVID-19 Pandemic

While pre-pandemic global poverty rates had been cut by more than half since 2000, the COVID-19 pandemic could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion people, or 8% of the total human population.

In April 2020, the United Nations issued a framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19 and created the Secretary-General's UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. Before the pandemic, significant progress had been made in alleviating poverty in many countries within Eastern and Southeastern Asia, but up to 42 per cent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa continued to live below the poverty line.