’Poverty and Inequalities, Paradoxes in Societies of Human Rights and Democracy?’ event at Council of Europe – Strasbourg 22 February 2013 Conference - Proposals for an inclusive society
The two-day conference involved a discussion on the subject of poverty and inequality in societies with human rights policies and brought together institutional actors, researchers, activists, associations, and networks, as well as people living in poverty and precariousness and other citizens involved in the themes raised by the Conference. The first day of the discussion was devoted to the analysis of the current situation in terms of poverty, inequalities and precariousness of living conditions. The workshops deepened the links between poverty and human rights, democracy, and looked at the consequences of the current economic crisis.
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe Mr Thorbjřrn Jagland and the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Mr László Andor, opened the conference to give a fresh, and participatory vision to the fight against poverty and inequality in today’s Europe.
Poverty is a violation of human rights and the situation of Roma in many countries is scandalous: poverty means that Roma children are on the streets rather in school and this is not a result of the economic crisis, said Thorbjřrn Jagland
Mr László Andor pointed out that some EU member states have better social outcomes yet with similar budgets to others. He referred to the Social Investment Package (SIP) released on 20 February having affordable childcare, prevention of early school leaving, quality training and accessible healthcare as key elements. He also mentioned the release of the Child Poverty Recommendations as part of the SIP which would help fight child poverty and thus avoid an intergenerational poverty gap.
Aims of the conference
EPHA participated in the workshop examining, how human rights should be implemented to protect people from poverty
Objectives: The workshop focused on how citizens and local communities have been affected and have reacted to this crisis and to the worsening of their living conditions. It looked at the proposals and means that can be adopted to re-establish social justice in the budgetary policies.
- As regards the legal framework, the European Convention of Human Rights is very fragmented and does not really use combined approach to address poverty. We need a more consistent approach.
The 3 pillars of the Council of Europe are the rule of law, human rights. and democracy . We should also stress the social dimension which is crucial, reinforced by the European Social Charter
Human rights oblige the state to take actions in respect of social rights. However, rights are not enforceable if the margin of appreciation of the states is too large.
Conditionality can breach the principle of universality of Human Rights
The effectiveness of the EU anti-discrimination legislation and the National Roma Integration strategies will depend on their implementation in practice
Commissioner László Andor’s speech ’Fighting poverty and preserving democracy through social investment]’
Conference’s key messages
Poverty, uncertainty and inequality are on the rise in all European countries and have been reinforced by the crisis. These negative factors not only weaken the social cohesion of European societies but they also contribute to violation of human rights, including social as well as civil and political rights, and question the functioning of democracy.
To be effective, the fight against poverty cannot be limited to targeted and conditional measures.
It must take into account the relationships and interdependencies existing in society to ease the sharing of social responsibilities and ensure equal access to resources. This also implies the avoidance of waste.
-* Trends in Social Cohesion, No. 25 – “Redefining and combating poverty, Human rights, democracy and common goods in today’s Europe”. - the online bookstore is available here
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