Institute of Health & Society

News Items

Poverty in the UK: human rights under threat

Jointly organised by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and ATD Fourth World

The event is open to members of the public and invited media
It will be live streamed:

  • Prof Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights
  • Dr Koldo Casla, policy director, Just Fair; research associate, Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University
  • Dr Wanda Wyporska, executive director, Equality Trust
  • Rebecca Rocket, member, Unite Community Essex
  • Kartik Raj, Western Europe researcher, Human Rights Watch
  • Loubna Freih, journalist, writer, mediator; member, Human Rights Watch Geneva Committee

The UK is the world's fifth largest economy, yet an estimated 14 million people live in poverty, there are record levels of hunger and homelessness, and in-work poverty as well as child and pensioner poverty are on the rise.

This panel, a day before the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights presents to the Human Rights Council the highly critical findings from his UK country visit, brings him into conversation with experts from UK domestic civil society and international NGOs to reflect on the current state and scale of poverty in the UK and what can be done to address human rights violations arising from poverty.

The Special Rapporteur’s report, which the UK government has construed as “barely believable,” finds that policy choices have exacerbated poverty and contributed to associated rights violations. The panel will reflect on the impact of austerity, including the restructuring of the welfare system and reductions to public services, growing reliance on emergency food aid, the disproportionate impact of cuts on historically marginalised groups, and the lack of UK domestic incorporation of socioeconomic rights and duties in law. The discussion will also consider what lessons can be learned from listening to the voices of people whose rights are negatively impacted by policy decisions and choices.

A response to the presentations will be invited from the UK Delegation in Geneva


published on: 12 June 2019