The Causes of Poverty (21): Absence of Human Rights and Democracy

I’m often asked what is the most serious form of human rights violations in the world today, and my reply is consistent: extreme poverty. Mary Robinson

Sustained poverty reduction requires equitable growth – but it also requires that poor people have political power. And the best way to achieve that in a manner consistent with human development objectives is by building strong and deep forms of democratic governance at all levels of society. That means ensuring that institutions and power are structured and distributed in a way that gives real voice and space to poor people and creates mechanisms through which the powerful – whether political leaders, corporations or other influential actors – can be held accountable for their actions. Mark Malloch Brown

Poverty is a human rights violation, but the fight against poverty requires the use of other human rights and democratic participation. Only the squeaky hinge gets the oil. Poor people need to express themselves; they need to organize and to get represented; they have to be allowed to engage in trade and the economy with full protection of their property rights; they need education and healthcare in order to avoid poverty traps etc.

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