What is the relationship between human rights and poverty reduction?

It is now generally understood that poverty is a result of disempowerment and exclusion. Poverty is not only a lack of material goods and opportunities, such as employment, ownership of productive assets and savings, but the lack of physical and social goods, such as health, physical integrity,freedom from fear and violence, social belonging, cultural identity, organizational capacity, the ability to exert political influence, and the ability to live a life with respect and dignity. Human rights violations are both a cause and a consequence of poverty.

Human rights reinforce the demand that poverty reduction be the primary goal of development policymaking. Human rights require the process of formulating a poverty reduction strategy to include the following elements and principles:

  • Identifying and prioritizing action to improve the situation of the poorest;
  • Analysing the underlying power relations and the root causes of discrimination;
  • Ensuring that both the process and the concrete poverty reduction targets are consistent with international human rights standards;
  • Ensuring close links between macroeconomic design, sectoral initiatives, and “governance” components and principles such as transparency and accountability;
  • Ensuring a basic standard of civil and political rights guarantees for active, free and meaningful participation, including freedom of information and freedom of association; and
  • Identifying indicators and setting benchmarks so that the progressive realization of economic and social rights can clearly be monitored.


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