INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON EXTREME POVERTY

Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on poverty:

I visited Chile more than one year ago and am grateful to the Government for its cooperation.  In my report, I note that while Chile has taken giant steps forward in social and economic development, it remains a highly segregated and unequal society with unacceptable rates of poverty and extreme poverty. The main factors hindering the effectiveness of the efforts of Chile in tackling poverty and inequalities include the fragmentation of anti-poverty programmes, the lack of sufficient “institutionality” to implement human rights, the attenuated role of labour market institutions to protect labour rights, persistent discrimination against and the absence of constitutional, legal and institutional protection of marginalized groups, such as indigenous peoples, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and migrants. My recommendations include the adoption of a comprehensive anti-poverty programme that is well-coordinated among the various ministries and the establishment of a well-funded and well-staffed Office of the Under-Secretary for Human Rights integrating economic, social and cultural rights as a key part of its mandate.

Allied Rainbow Communities International noted:

We congratulate the Special Rapporteur for producing a Report that is not ‘painfully boring’ but rather ‘stimulates fresh thinking’. The Special Rapporteur has cast his net very wide in observing that capitalism itself is unsustainable unless the excesses and predations that are built into it are tempered by ensuring the basic welfare of all. We are in agreement with the finding that economic and social rights risk being overshadowed by the constitutional and legal entrenchment of austerity measures through bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements that effectively trump human rights concerns.

The broad macro picture painted by the Special Rapporteur indeed has painful and real consequences for a range of groups and people struggling to eke out a living in a context where the state has abandoned them.

The Special Rapporteur is right to observe that groups which have been historically subjected to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity are even more vulnerable in contexts such as this. There is a link between discrimination, poverty and inequality and it’s imperative that states recognize the linkage and move to redress it.

We urge states across the world to treat socio economic rights as full fledged rights and heed the Special Rapporteur’s call to recognize, institutionalize and ensure accountability for the violation of socio economic rights.