SRSG participates in international Colloquium on Extreme Poverty and Violence - Paris

Paris (France) 26 January 2012 - The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children participated in an international colloquium on extreme poverty and violence, which was organized by the International Movement ATD Fourth World with support from UNESCO, in Paris, France.

The discussions focused on understanding the forms of violence faced by people in chronic poverty and the pathways towards peace, bearing in mind that people living in chronic poverty often are judged as those who commit violent acts, against which society must protect itself, forgetting that they are the first victims of ongoing daily violence.

In today’s society, discrimination on the basis of social class remains pervasive. People living in extreme poverty are increasingly penalized including by laws against begging, homelessness or forced evictions from formal settlements.

The objectives of the colloquium were to analyze the violence of extreme poverty; to foster dialogue and reciprocal learning among people of very different backgrounds; to identify ways to counter violence faced by people living in extreme poverty and to work towards peace; to share findings with academics and practitioners working on human rights, social justice and sustainable development, as well as with grass-roots movements in which people living in poverty are the key actors.

The event brought together 250 participants; among them were persons who have a direct experience of extreme poverty, as well as participants from academic disciplines, grass-roots practitioners, policy makers and representatives from international institutions.

The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights emphasized that no one is more vulnerable to violence than persons living in extreme poverty; they are considered as dirty, dangerous, lazy, irresponsible and a burden to society. She added that there is a need to change the social attitudes and prejudice. She also stressed that poverty cannot be eliminated without the active and meaningful participation of those that suffer from it.

Ms Santos Pais added that violence and poverty are closely inter-connected and compromise children’s fundamental rights. Both generate a strong sense of exclusion, low self-esteem and at times aggressive behaviors. The SRSG highlighted that as children grow older, poverty and violence have a cumulative impact on their development, leading to poor health, poor education performance and long-tern welfare dependency.

Violence and poverty are both a denial of children’s human dignity and potential to participate in social progress and cohesion on an equal footing with other members of society.

Marta Santos Pais ended her statement by affirming the commitment to working together with all stakeholders in making governments in every nation accountable to eliminating violence and extreme poverty.

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