The Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights are the first global policy guidelines focused specifically on the human rights of people living in poverty. They are intended for use by governments to ensure that public policies, including poverty eradication efforts, reach the poorest members of society, respect and uphold their rights, and take into account the significant social, cultural, economic and structural obstacles to human rights enjoyment faced by persons living in poverty.
The Human Rights Council adopted the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights by consensus through its resolution 21/11, in September 2012. The development of the Guiding Principles was initiated by the former Commission on Human Rights in 2001, and their content was discussed and refined over more than a decade of consultations with States, civil society organisations, United Nations agencies and communities living in poverty.
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.
The Guiding Principles are intended as a tool for designing and implementing poverty reduction and eradication policies, and as a guide to how to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of persons living in extreme poverty in all areas of public policy. Based on internationally agreed human rights norms and principles, they draw on international and regional instruments and agreements, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in addition to the general comments and recommendations of United Nations treaty bodies.
The Guiding Principles guide the application of human rights obligations in policy decisions at the national and international levels, including decisions concerning international assistance and cooperation. The implementation of the Guiding Principles should thus be seen in the context of States’ existing obligations under international law.
The Guiding Principles are global in scope. They should be used by all countries and regions at all stages of economic development, with due regard to national specificities. They are based on a relational and multidimensional view of poverty that recognizes that the empowary implications. It should clearly designate the authorities and agencies responsible for implementation and establish appropriate remedies and grievance mechanisms in the event of non-compliance.
The following principles are essential to an approach based on human rights and must provide the foundations for the design and implementation of all public policies related to poverty reduction or affecting persons living in poverty
- Dignity, universality, indivisibility, inter relatedness and interdependence of all rights
- Equal enjoyment of all human rights by persons living in extreme poverty
- Equality between men and women
- Rights of the child
- Agency and autonomy of persons living in extreme poverty
- Participation and empowerment
- Transparency and access to information