Press Release

IACHR Presents Report on Poverty and Human Rights in the Americas

December 5, 2017

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Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is presenting the report “Poverty and Human Rights in the Americas,” its first thematic report on this issue. The report is today available in Spanish, and will be published in English later.

In the past decade, the region made important progress in the area of social, economic, cultural, and environmental rights (ESCER), which enabled large segments of the population to rise out of poverty and extreme poverty. However, these achievements are now at risk of being reversed. Through this report, the Inter-American Commission seeks to contribute to efforts to reduce and eliminate poverty in the Americas, with recommendations geared toward improving and strengthening States’ laws, policies, and actions to ensure that the human rights of people who live in poverty are duly respected and protected.

The IACHR is concerned to observe that the ongoing situation of poverty and extreme poverty in the member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) translates into serious obstacles to the effective enjoyment of human rights. The IACHR has confirmed in its visits to countries that people who live in poverty face geographic, economic, cultural, and social obstacles to exercising their rights.

In many regions, people in poverty live far from their workplaces, public plazas, and markets and have difficulty gaining access to public services such as potable water, sanitation, electricity, health facilities, schools, and social service institutions. They sometimes have to travel long distances and traverse paths, infrastructure, and roads that are in poor condition, risking their very lives.

These everyday obstacles faced by people, groups, and communities living in poverty add up, leading to degrading and dangerous working conditions, unhealthy housing, inadequate nutrition, risk of disease, exposure to violence, unequal access to justice, and little or no participation in decision-making processes related to their circumstances.

This situation has a particular impact on groups that have historically faced discrimination, such as women, children and adolescents, indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant populations, migrants, persons deprived of liberty, people with disabilities, the LGBTI population, and older people. The IACHR urges States to consider these risk factors that people in these groups face and develop social policies to address and remedy their situation of poverty, as well as to actively confront the multiple forms of discrimination they have suffered historically.

States have the obligation to take deliberate, concrete steps toward the elimination of poverty in the Americas. They should address the problem of poverty from a human rights perspective, developing strategies to protect the rights to decent work, health, food, housing, and education, guaranteeing the economic and social empowerment of people who live in poverty. States should also facilitate the participation of people who are in a situation of poverty, to take their experiences and perspectives into account. 

The IACHR and its Special Rapporteurship for Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights reaffirm their commitment to work with the States of the Americas to draft and implement public policies with a human rights approach to ensure a life of dignity for people who live in poverty and to progressively achieve the complete eradication of poverty in the hemisphere.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the respect for and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 202/17