1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
The European Social Charter, the human rights treaty on social and economic rights, guarantees the right to be protected against poverty and social exclusion through its Article 30, as it is considered that living in a situation of poverty and social exclusion violates the dignity of human beings. Article 30 of the Charter is the first binding human rights provision in Europe for the protection against poverty and social exclusion. The primary obligation for States Parties under Article 30 of the Charter is the adoption of a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach which explicitly aims at combating poverty and social exclusion by adopting measures aimed at preventing and removing obstacles to access to fundamental social rights, in particular employment, housing, training, education, culture and social and medical assistance.
The European Committee of Social Rights (ESCR) monitors the implementation of the Charter, not only in law, but also in practice.
In light of this approach, assessments of situations under Article 30, as for other substantial provisions of the Charter, are based on this human rights approach, which has been reaffirmed by the Guiding Principles on extreme poverty and human rights (submitted by the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, and adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 27 September 2012) and which has consistently been applied by the ECSR. In particular, the ECSR has interpreted the scope of Article 30 of the Charter as relating both to protection against poverty (understood as involving situations of social precarity) and protection against social exclusion (understood as involving obstacles to inclusion and citizen participation) in an autonomous manner or in combination with other connecting provisions of the Charter.
Furthermore, the ECSR emphasises the very close link between the effectiveness of the right recognised by Article 30 of the Charter and the enjoyment of the rights recognised by other provisions, such as the right to work (Article 1), access to health care (Article 11), social security allowances (Article 12), social and medical assistance (Article 13), the benefit from social welfare services (Article 14), the rights of persons with disabilities (Article 15), the social, legal and economic protection of the family (Article 16) as well as of children and young persons (Article 17), the right to equal opportunities and equal treatment in employment and occupation without sex discrimination (Article 20), the rights of the elderly (Article 23) or the right to housing (Article 31), without forgetting the important impact of the non-discrimination clause (Article E) which obviously includes non-discrimination on grounds of poverty.
Recommendation CM/Rec(2015)3 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the access of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods to social rights recommends measures to member States to prevent and eradicate the poverty, discrimination, violence and exclusion faced by young people. A human-rights based approach is the basis for the social and youth work interventions being implemented in co-operation with local authorities and youth organisations. The recommendation is available in English, French, Czech, Georgian, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.
With regard to ending poverty, the Parliamentary Assembly most recently adopted Resolution 2197 (2018) on The case for a basic citizenship income. The Assembly promoted further ratifications and effective implementation of the European Social Charter through Resolution 2180 (2017) and Recommendation 2112 (2017) on The “Turin process”: reinforcing social rights in Europe. It also referred to this most comprehensive social rights standard in a recent text relating to poverty explicitly, namely Resolution 1995 (2014) on Ending child poverty in Europe.
The report of European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Combating child poverty: an issue of fundamental rights, underlines how combating child poverty is also a matter of realising their fundamental rights. It suggests that the EU and its Member States should tighten existing laws and policies to meet legal standards under the UN’s Child Rights Convention and the European Social Charter. This would enable them to tackle child poverty better.
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities adopted the following texts of relevance:
- Resolution 391 (2015) on ’’Fighting the increasing poverty of women: the responsibility of local and regional authorities’’;
- REC381(2015): Fighting the increasing poverty of women: the responsibility of local and regional authorities;
- Resolution 229 (2007) on ’’The evolution of extreme poverty in European towns’’;
- REC(2007)210: The evolution of extreme poverty in European towns.
The work of the Commissioner for Human Rights concerning poverty focuses on addressing the deepening and long-term effects of austerity measures on human rights and ensuring that national and regional authorities uphold human rights protection, particularly of those groups of people disproportionately hit as a result of those measures. The activities of the Commissioner on this theme are developed under the thematic area ‘Economic crisis and human rights’. In the Issue Paper ‘Safeguarding human rights in times of economic crisis’ (2013), the Commissioner issued actionable recommendations which help forge a new path along which governments can align their economic recovery policies with their commitments for human rights.
See the Commissioner’s thematic webpage ‘Economic crisis and human rights’
See in particular:
Human Rights Comments:
- ‘Keeping the promise: Ending poverty and inequality’
- ‘Preserving Europe's social model’
- ‘Maintain universal access to healthcare’
- ‘Protect women’s rights during the crisis’
- ‘Youth human rights at risk during the crisis’
- ‘National Human Rights Structures can help mitigate the effects of austerity measures’
- ‘Austerity budgets tend to victimise the most vulnerable’