Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty
The United Nations Draft Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights
The United Nations Draft Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights are currently being developed to provide guidance on the implementation of existing human rights norms and standards in the context of the fight against extreme poverty.
In 2001, the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights (now the Human Rights Council) stressed the need to develop a set of Principles on the implementation of existing human rights norms and standards in the fight against extreme poverty. In response, the former UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights entrusted an ad hoc group of experts with the task of preparing the Draft Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (DGPs).
The DGPs were submitted to the Human Rights Council (HRC) at its second session in 2007. In 2008, through resolution 7/27, the HRC requested the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) to undertake a consultation and organise a seminar on the DGP to gather the views of various stakeholders. OHCHR distributed the DGPs for comments to all relevant stakeholders including States, United Nations agencies, treaty bodies, and special procedure mandate-holders, other intergovernmental organisations, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The Seminar was held in Geneva on 27 and 28 January 2009 and participants included State and UN representatives, human rights experts and civil society organizations. Background documents to this seminar are available here
Following OHCHR’s report of the seminar (A/HRC/11/32) and the recommendations of the Seminar contained therein, in September 2009, through resolution 12/19, the HRC invited the Independent Expert to: pursue further work on the existing DGPs and present a progress with her recommendations on how to improve the current draft to the HRC in September 2010.
The added values of the Draft Guiding Principles on extreme poverty and human rights
The DGPs will not define new standards, but stipulate how the existing ones can be effectively utilized in addressing the situation of people living in extreme poverty. It is hoped that they will ultimately serve to empower people living in extreme poverty, through reaffirming their rights and providing concrete means and methods to secure their realization.
The DGPs recognise that extreme poverty and exclusion from society constitute a violation of human dignity. They acknowledge the right to justice as a crucial component of the full enjoyment of the human rights of persons living in extreme poverty and move beyond the scope of simply treating poverty as a case of charity.
The DGPs place particular attention on vulnerable and marginalised groups, especially women, children, disabled persons, older persons, migrants and orphans.
The way forward
On 2 October 2009, the Council adopted resolution 12/19, mandating the Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty to submit a progress report no later than its 15th session in September 2010, presenting her recommendations on how to improve the draft guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights, to allow the Council to take a decision on the way forward with a view to a possible adoption of guiding principles by 2012.
At the fifteenth session of the HRC, in August 2010, the Independent Expert submitted her progress report (A/HRC/15/41), containing detailed recommendations on how to improve the Draft Guiding Principles on extreme poverty and human rights and proposing an annotated outline covering overarching human rights principles and policy guidelines and specific rights-based obligations. In order to prepare the report, the expert convened a meeting on 20-21 May 2010, in collaboration with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, which was attended by experts working on human rights and development issues worldwide. She also consulted with various stakeholders and participated in two meetings with NGOs promoted by ATD-Quart Monde, and a meeting with human rights and development practitioners at Brandeis University.
On 30 September 2010, the HRC adopted resolution 15/19, which invited the OHCHR to seek the views of States and different stakeholders on the Independent Expert progress report and to submit to the Council, no later than its 19th session (March 2012) an analytical compilation of these comments and consultations. The resolution also invites the Independent Expert, on the basis of the OHCHR report, to pursue further work on the DGPs with a view to submitting a final draft of the revised DGPs to the Council at its 21st session.