“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.”
Engraved on the Commemorative Stone in Honor of the Victims of Extreme Poverty, on the Plaza of Human Rights and Liberties in Paris, this idea is at the foundation of ATD Fourth World’s work. Advocacy is done at all levels, from the local to the international, so that all policies and programs that affect people living in poverty are based on human rights principles and standards.
All too often, people living in poverty are socially excluded and unable to access basic social protections, trapping them in conditions of poverty, and directly violating their human rights. By definition, human rights are indivisible and universal, but this means far more than just access to food and shelter; it also means the ability to live in dignity. Human rights can only be recognized when individuals are allowed full participation in society, thereby making a future possible for themselves and for their children.
The adoption of the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights by the United Nations Human Rights Council on September 27, 2012 is a benchmark for the recognition of extreme poverty as a violation of human rights. Over 60 Member States actively supported the resolution as co-sponsors. Through its adoption, Member States of the Human Rights Council affirmed that eradicating poverty is not only a moral duty but also a legal obligation under existing international human rights law. The Guiding Principles draw on existing international agreements on human rights norms such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. They are global in scope, recognizing that extreme poverty is a universal phenomenon. The objective of the Guiding Principles is to provide further guidance on how to apply human rights standards in efforts to combating poverty. Additionally, they are a tool for designing and implementing poverty reduction and eradication policies, and a guide on how to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of individuals living in extreme poverty in all areas of public policy. Looking forward, particularly in the Post-2015 Agenda, the Guiding Principles may act as a tool to develop a framework that includes the full realization of human rights for all peoples.
In September 2015, for perhaps the first time in history, this set of United Nations principles was translated into concrete suggestions for everyday people to take action. Spearheaded by Franciscans International and ATD Fourth World, dozens of grassroots organizations worldwide, as well as individuals with a lived experience of poverty, have created a handbook to, as the title suggests, make human rights work for all. Read more about the handbook and download your free copy here.