UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said on December 11 that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights “has, at best, a hollow ring”, “wherever families eke out an existence on less than a dollar a day, or children die for lack of basic yet life-saving care.” This year, in honor of Human Rights Day, several UN leaders declared that freedom from such exteme poverty is a human right, and not just a matter of compassion and charity, and that, in Annan’s words, “if we are to be serious about human rights, we must demonstrate that we are serious about deprivation.” This was expressed in the theme of the conference, held on December 8 in New York City, “Fighting Poverty: A Matter of Obligation, Not Charity”.

The UN Chronicle, in it’s report on the conference noted that there was a “plurality of voices” on the issue of poverty, even within the UN itself. Outside of the UN, there are different debates going on. The Chronicle cites the recent work of economist Jeffrey Sachs (The End of Poverty), William Easterly (White Man’s Burden), and others, and notes that a consensus on the problem “is likely a long way off”. However, more work needs to be done and shared from all perspectives and approaches on the problem, as the one thing that is shared by all is the goal of the eradication of poverty.
Peter Broady

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