March 1997 Volume 2 Issue 3

Freedom From Poverty is Everyone's Human Right

The human right to be free from poverty is the right of every woman, man, youth and child, according to Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Everyone has the human right to a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services. The human right to live in dignity and free from want is spelled out in the most basic international human rights agreements and is an essential part of the realization of all other human rights — rights that cannot be separated or denied because of race, gender, age, class, immigration status, country of origin, sexual orientation, physical abilities or religion. Everyone in the world has the same human rights.

    The Human Right to be free from poverty includes:
  • The human right to work and receive a sustainable living wage;
  • The human right to a healthy and safe environment;
  • The human right to be free from hunger;
  • The human right to live in adequate housing;
  • The human right to safe drinking water;
  • The human right to health care and medical attention in case of illness;
  • The human right to access to social services;
  • The human right to education;
  • The human right to be free of gender or racial discrimination;
  • The human right to participate in shaping decisions and policies that affect individuals and communities;
  • The human right for children to develop in an environment appropriate for their physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.

In 1996, the United States federal government either cut or eliminated essential assistance programs for low and middle income people. The affected programs range from welfare to child care to jobs to environmental programs and many, many others. No one knows for sure how many lives will be affected by the changes made in the complete restructuring of the federal welfare program. However, more than 93% of the federal budget reductions in 1996 were from programs specifically targeted to poor people, while these programs are only 1% of the federal budget.

All governments must ensure that basic human rights are met. When they are not, we as members of society must not be silent. We should encourage state and local governments to be guided by international human rights standards when designing policies that affect our communities.

Freedom From Poverty is Everyone's Human Right

CHRE is collaborating with the Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger to provide training and technical assistance for a national "Welfare Rights are Human Rights" campaign launched in January. This collaboration is part of a national project funded by the Ford Foundation — Human Rights-USA — developed in partnership with the National Institute for Citizens Education in the Law (NICEL), Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, and the Human Rights Educators Network of Amnesty International.

    You can bring human rights home when you:
  1. Get to know your human rights. Look up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights agreements at your local library, or contact CHRE for more information.
  2. Put human rights to work for social justice. The issues affecting you and your community are human rights issues. Help hold your governments accountable to human rights norms. Be heard! See to it that economic and social human rights are on the agenda for policymakers! Contact the Georgia Citizens Coalition at 404-622-7778.
  3. Join efforts to have the United States ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
  4. Become a Human Rights Educator. Reach out to educate others working for social and economic human rights.
  5. Tell people that "welfare rights are human rights!" Protest hurtful welfare reform and anti-immigration policies.
  6. Join the international campaign on our website:


SPECIAL NOTICES/ANNOUNCEMENTS - CHRE receives funding support from the Ford Foundation! Funding is for a two-year education project to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1998.

"Bringing Human Rights Home to People in the United States"

The Mission of the Center for Human Rights Education is to "bring human rights home" to the American People.

National Center for Human Rights Education, P.O. Box 311020, Atlanta, GA 31131
(tel) 404/344-9629 (fax) 404/346-7517 (email)

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