Press Release

IACHR Issues Appeal to Member States to End Poverty

October 19, 2016

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Washington, D.C. – In the context of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) emphatically reiterates its call to the member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) to make every effort within their means to end this scourge.

The American Convention on Human Rights notes in its preamble that “the ideal of free men enjoying freedom from fear and want can be achieved only if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as his civil and political rights.” The preamble to the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, “Protocol of San Salvador,” expressly recognizes “the close relationship that exists between economic, social and cultural rights, and civil and political rights, in that the different categories of rights constitute an indivisible whole based on the recognition of the dignity of the human person, for which reason both require permanent protection and promotion if they are to be fully realized, and the violation of some rights in favor of the realization of others can never be justified.”

Extreme poverty constitutes a generalized violation of all human rights, civil and political, as well as economic, social, and cultural. The requirements of the human right to a dignified life go beyond the equally fundamental contents of the right to personal liberty, the rights related to the system of representative democracy, and all other civil and political rights. In addition, experience shows that extreme poverty may have a serious detrimental impact on the democratic institutional framework, for it tends to erode democracy and renders illusory citizen participation, access to justice, and the effective enjoyment of human rights generally. Therefore, in addition to earmarking public resources in sufficient quantity for the social and economic rights of the populations, the states should see to the appropriate use of such resources.

In effect, one of the most worrisome general human rights situations in the hemisphere is related to the poverty and extreme poverty that affect a growing number of persons. The extensive and complex nature of the problem, as well as the need to seek solutions, has been recognized by several states and civil society, and also by international institutions and organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank, among others. It should be noted that in September 2015 the UN General Assembly adopted the “Agenda 2030” with the inclusion of 17 sustainable development goals, which will guide world development programs for the next 15 years. That agenda has as its priority aim ending poverty in the world by 2030, as well as eradicating hunger and attaining food security; ensuring a healthy life and a quality education; attaining gender equality; ensuring access to water and energy; promoting sustained economic growth; adopting urgent measures against climate change; promoting peace and justice; and facilitating access to justice, among others.

In 2015 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights began a process for drawing up the first thematic report on human rights and poverty in the Americas. To compile information for that report the IACHR made seven visits to the member states (two to the United States and one each to Paraguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, Guyana, and Peru) in which it met with state authorities who have responsibility in this area, visited precarious urban settlements and communities that live in poverty and extreme poverty, in addition to holding meetings with civil society. The last visit led by Commissioner Vannuchi as the commissioner in charge of the ESC Unit with a view to preparing that report concluded on October 15. On November 17, 2016, as part of the activities related to the preparation of the report a conference of experts on the topic will be held with the cooperation of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). In addition, during the regular period of sessions of the IACHR to take place in Panama in late November and early December 2016, the agenda includes the consideration and adoption of that report, so as to launch it by the end of the year. The Inter-American Commission is grateful for the cooperation and willingness of the member states in carrying out those visits and likewise civil society, social movements, academia, and trade unions of the region for their participation and input.

Based on his experience in this area, and in particular the observations in the course of those visits, Commissioner Vannuchi said: ¨Poverty has many faces. They are the ones we have seen of the women, men, boys, girls, adolescents, and older adults who experience on a day-to-day basis the reality of their human rights not satisfied. This multidimensional phenomenon should be addressed by the State on a priority, urgent, and comprehensive basis, with special concern for the problems of the populations that have historically suffered discrimination.”

The Commission urges the member states to adopt public policies, laws, procedures and practices that guarantee the effective protection of the human rights of persons who live in poverty and extreme poverty, and to continue dedicating efforts and resources to eradicate poverty and extreme poverty for implementing the world agenda for 2030 and the inter-American standards, with the consequent international obligations in this area.

Finally, the IACHR is grateful for the financial contribution of the European Union, which makes it possible to carry out the activities and to produce the first report on the matter.

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 respect for 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. 152/16