The Unheard Truth

Amnesty International
15 October 2009

The Unheard Truth: World leaders must change
debate on poverty and human rights

In the run-up to the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October, Amnesty International called on world leaders and policy makers to shift the debate on poverty from economics to addressing the human rights problems that impoverish and keep people poor.

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan stated: “Poverty is the world’s worst human rights crisis.

“Discrimination, state repression, corruption, insecurity and violence are as much defining features of poverty as the lack of material resources. These human rights problems can’t simply be solved by raising income levels,” said Irene Khan.

“Material benefits alone do not guarantee an end to discrimination, or improve security or give voice to those living in poverty. Investment in agriculture may boost crop yields for poor farmers but does not guarantee security of tenure against unscrupulous land owners. Building new schools doesn’t guarantee that girls will have the same access to education as boys.

“In many countries economic growth levels may be high but people’s right to be informed and consulted in public policy is ignored; their right to express their views and be heard is curtailed. The poor are shut out and ignored.

“Any successful poverty alleviation strategy must empower the poor to claim their rights, so that they can control their destiny and can hold decision makers to account.”

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