The Guiding Principles on extreme poverty and human rights were adopted by the Human Rights Council by consensus on September 27th 2012, in resolution 21/11.
In a world characterized by an unprecedented level of economic development, technological means and financial resources, that millions of persons are living in extreme poverty is a moral outrage. The present Guiding Principles are premised on the understanding that eradicating extreme poverty is not only a moral duty but also a legal obligation under existing international human rights law. Thus, the norms and principles of human rights law should play a major part in tackling poverty and guiding all public policies affecting persons living in poverty.
Poverty is not solely an economic issue, but rather a multidimensional phenomenon that encompasses a lack of both income and the basic capabilities to live in dignity. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stated in 2001 that poverty was “a human condition characterized by the sustained or chronic deprivation of the resources, capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights” (E/C.12/2001/10, para. 8). Extreme poverty, in turn, has been defined as “the combination of income poverty, human development poverty and social exclusion” (A/HRC/7/15, para. 13), where a prolonged lack of basic security affects several aspects of people’s lives simultaneously, severely compromising their chances of exercising or regaining their rights in the foreseeable future (see E/ CN.4/Sub.2/1996/13).
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