Human rights approach to poverty praised in Canada

“The issue of poverty must be understood more deeply if it is to be tackled at its root,” said Karen McKye, Secretary-General of the National Spiritual Assembly, the governing council of the Baha’i Community of Canada, welcoming the recent Baha’i International Community (BIC) submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The BIC document, addressing the relationship between human rights and extreme poverty, was released just as the world commemorates today’s 20th Anniversary observance of 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, for which the United Nations has designated as this year’s theme: “People Living in Poverty as Agents of Change.”

This document, a response to the recent call from United Nations Human Rights Council for submissions which explore poverty from a human rights perspective, was the result of extensive consultation with Baha’i communities in at least 6 countries.

According to the 2007 UNICEF Innocenti Research Center’s Report Card 7 on child well-being in rich-countries, nearly 14% of children in Canada still live in relative economic poverty.

Said Ms. McKye about the BIC document, “The linking of poverty reduction to human rights and justice, rather than to charity, provides an important framework for any effort to address this global scourge, in Canada or elsewhere.”

The document itself praises the Human Rights Council for recognizing this link, and underlined that poverty is, “a problem for all of humanity, not just for the poor; and… a symptom of a system of economic and social relationships – in the family, the community, the nation, and the world – that promote the advantage of the few at the expense of the many.”

The approaches to poverty advanced by the BIC document emphasized justice and equality as necessary governing principles for social relations at every level and further identified the right to education, culture, and work as crucial features of any successful poverty alleviation efforts.

For more information about the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, please visit:

October 17, World Day to Overcome Extreme PovertyUnited Nations Department of Public Information