Handbook for Persons Living in Extreme Poverty

Used with permission

Making Human Rights Work for People Living in Extreme Poverty: A handbook for implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights is the title of a recent publication that aims to facilitate the implementing of the UN Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights by local actors. Authored jointly by International Movement ATD Fourth World and Franciscans International, this 58-page booklet seeks to translate the legal language of the Guiding Principles into accessible language for people on the ground, giving concrete suggestions for implementation. Prior to publication, the handbook was field-tested so as to include comments and concerns of the grassroots.

Ms. Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (2008-2014), writes in her Foreword about the purpose of this book:

People living in extreme poverty are often neglected or overlooked by politicians, public service providers, and policy makers. Their lack of political voice, financial or social capital and their chronic social exclusion make them almost invisible to the eyes of the general population. Their needs and concerns are often absent in policy debates. Moreover, the negative stigma of poverty is so firmly entrenched in the minds of those who are better off in society that laws and policies are often based on stereotypes that assume that persons living in poverty are lazy, irresponsible, indifferent to their children’s health and education, dishonest, undeserving, and even criminal. These prejudices and negative stereotypes are so deeply entrenched that they prevent policy makers from addressing the systemic factors that prevent persons living in poverty from overcoming their situation.

The significant obstacles that people living in poverty still face in enjoying their human rights made it essential to develop this handbook for implementing the Guiding Principles. This handbook is a practical tool for social workers, policy makers, civil servants, law enforcement officials, teachers, health care providers, and human rights advocates working at the local level to ensure that public policies reach the poorest members of society and respect and uphold all their rights. I am convinced that it can help to create an enabling environment in which people living in poverty are empowered to lift themselves out of poverty.

Overall, I warmly welcome this handbook, which makes an important contribution to the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. Implementing the Guiding Principles around the world is an urgent priority; a means to realize human rights, provide a lifeline out of poverty for many millions of people, and turn our vision for fairer and more inclusive societies into a reality.

The booklet can be downloaded in English, French and Spanish by clicking here. On this website you will also find a ten-minute video that was produced for the launch of the Handbook in late 2015. This informative video called Extreme Poverty: Standing Up for Rights, can be viewed in English, French, German and Spanish, and is ideal to share with prayer groups, women’s groups, in schools, etc.

NGO Office
May 2016

Note: See also Human Rights Council adopts Guiding Principles on extreme poverty and human rights, an article posted by the NGO Office in October 2012.