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Poverty and human rights


For our second, in depth look at a human rights issue, we will examine the relevance of international human rights standards to the fight against poverty.

Until relatively recently, poverty was not treated in human rights terms – at least not at the United Nations. But that began to change in the 1990s and today the links between poverty and human rights are regularly discussed. In this module, we’ll examine why poverty is a human rights issue and whether (and how) making such a connection assists in efforts to eradicate poverty.

Upon completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • describe the range of human rights abuses experienced by those living in extreme poverty;
  • discuss the arguments in favour of a human rights based approach to ending extreme poverty;
  • explain the concept of the “indivisibility” of human rights, especially as it applies to the human rights concerns of those living in slums; and
  • explain how human rights concerns are reflected in the United Nations’ anti-poverty efforts as seen in the Sustainable Development Goals.