Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

4 May 2001


Adopts Statement on Poverty

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights this afternoon delayed its consideration of additional information which had been received from the Government of Israel on how that country implements the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the occupied territories.

Committee members, saying that the document from Israel had yet to be translated into all the languages, instead decided to draft a letter to be sent to the Israeli Mission in Geneva, asking diplomats to attend a meeting when the information was to be examined during the Committee's session next August.

In the Committee's 1998 conclusions and observations on Israel's initial report on the status of the Covenant, members requested that Israel provide additional information on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights in the Palestinian occupied territories. The information was provided to the Committee last month.

The Committee also debated and adopted a statement on poverty which recognized that although the term poverty was not explicitly used in the Covenant, it was one of its recurring themes and had always been one of the central concerns of the Committee.

The statement read that the right to work, an adequate standard of living, housing, food, health and education, which laid at the heart of the Covenant, had a direct and immediate bearing upon the eradication of poverty. Further, the issue of poverty frequently arose within the course of the Committee's constructive dialogue with States parties. In light of experience gained over many years, including the examination of numerous States parties reports, the Committee held the firm view that poverty constituted a denial of human rights.

The statement also said that in the recent past, poverty was often defined as insufficient income to buy a minimum basket of goods and services. Today, the term was usually understood more broadly as the lack of basic capabilities to live in dignity. The definition recognized poverty's broader features such as frequent illness, poor education, discrimination, vulnerability and social exclusion. The Committee noted that this understanding of poverty corresponded with numerous provisions of the Covenant.

Beginning at 10 a.m. on Monday, 7 May, the Committee will hold a day-long international consultation on economic, social and cultural rights in the development of activities of international institutions. The international consultation is being organized in cooperation with the High Council for International Cooperation (France).

For information media - not an official record