Photo: Gizmodo

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Break the silence: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Tomorrow is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. I'll be heading to the Plaza of Liberties and Human Rights, at the Trocadero in Paris to join thousands of others to who share my refusal to accept that over a billion of our fellow citizens be condemned to a life of extreme poverty. The Plaza were over 60 years ago the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed to herald, "Freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people."

What will it take to spur us to take a stand against the injustice of poverty and make this proclamation more than rhetoric? For President Piñera of Chile, it was the plight of the 33 miners which led him to state his country will could now undertake the challenge to be the first in Latin America to defeat poverty.

It shouldn't need 33 courageous men to spur us to end poverty. The rallying call has come from many great figures in history over the years. From Victor Hugo, who in addressing the French Parliament in 1849 said, "I am among those who think and affirm that poverty can be destroyed." Or more recently, Nelson Mandela, who, now free, reminded us that the poor are not: "They are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free."

Yet since the onset of the global economic crisis, nearly 70 million more people have been condemned to extreme poverty. And this just ten years after the international community pledged to, "Spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty."

Poverty can and must be eradicated. Tomorrow, people in different corners of the globe, including those who experience poverty first-hand, will express the conviction of Joseph Wresinski that, "Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty."

Below is a video from the director general of ATD Fourth World with his meesage for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

What will you be doing tomorrow?

Message from Eugen Brand, Director General of the International Movement ATD Fourth World on the occasion of the International D from ATDFRA on Vimeo.


  1. Matt, I couldn't be more proud of the work you do, as part of the magnificent efforts of the relative few, to eradicate the poverty of the far too many.

    More power to your elbow!


  2. Extreme poverty is the direct result of the denial of human rights. Human rights provide the freedom that allows a person to live and thrive in a safe and healthy environment. Why should living a life free of hunger, illness and disease be a luxury that is afforded only to those fortunate enough to be born into a wealthy nation? The color of your skin, your economic class, your political views and your religious beliefs should not dictate whether you are allowed to enjoy “basic human rights”. If these restrictions apply than the term is not accurate. The phrase clearly means that these rights should be available to every person on earth. There should be no exceptions because these rights represent the basic necessities for sustaining life and preventing suffering. Do we believe this is an unreasonable concept? Do we have reservations about helping children survive beyond the age of five? Do we want to deny food to millions of people each year? Do we want to withhold life saving medicines and vaccines from entire regions of the world? Would we want anyone to do those things to us? Your comfortable life would quickly vanish if your human rights were stripped away.

  3. Thanks for the comment Zephyr. Any mention of this Day in Malaysia?

  4. Thanks for reading the post Michael. There's no question that extreme poverty is both a cause and a consequence of a denial of human rights. This is equally true even in Europe and North America - education systems that fail to meet the needs of the poorest children, health disparities resulting in life expectancies which vary by up to 20 years between richest and poorest regions of a country...