Poverty is a Human Rights Issue Essay

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The question of whether poverty is a human rights issue is a controversial one. On the one hand, in development economics theory, poverty is defined as deprivation or a lack of income and has to be solved through economic growth. On the other hand, from the perspective of international human rights laws, poverty is first and foremost as a denial of fundamental rights and as such it’s a human rights crisis. However, in the final analysis and based on both my experience as a citizen of one the poorest countries in the world (the DR Congo) and development economics background, I believe that poverty is first a human rights phenomenon, not an economic one. To support my stance, I will first clarify the basic concepts of this essay, notably…show more content…
Human rights, on the other hand, are the rights or claims that someone has because he or she is a human being. As such, human rights give some kind of special entitlement to rights’ holders which, in return, give rise to claims if they cannot be enjoyed or they happen to be denied. Moreover, not only human rights give special entitlements to rights’ holders, but they also protect the rights’ holders from the abuse of political power. The abuse of political power is generally committed by States who are both duty bearers and services providers and must be held accountable when they fail to fulfill their duties of respecting, protecting and promoting human rights. Non-state actors as well can fail to respect, protect and promote human rights under the territory they control and must be held to account. Based on this conceptual background, and in accordance with Irene Khan’s analysis on poverty and human rights , poverty is characterized by four main features, notably: deprivation, insecurity, voiceless and powerlessness. Based on these features and as Irene Khan argues, “poverty is not primarily about economics and income levels. It is about the powerlessness experienced in so many ways by those living in poverty. Human rights are claims that the weak advance to hold the powerful to account, and that is why poverty is first and foremost about rights” (p.21). The human rights approach to poverty can be exemplified in several ways. For instance,
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