u.n. eradicates povertyThe United Nations (U.N.) is an international organization designed for countries to work together on human rights issues, maintain peace and resolve conflicts. Currently, the U.N. consists of representatives from 193 countries. In the general assembly, nations have a platform for diplomatic relations. One of major missions of the U.N. is the eradication of global poverty. The U.N. eradicates poverty comprehensively and works to address current poverty levels and their resulting crises. Additionally, it works to prevent the causes of poverty from spreading on a global level.

What Is Poverty?

The U.N. defines poverty as “more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods.” The organization asserts that poverty affects people in many ways, including “hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, as well as the lack of participation in decision-making.” Poorer countries that suffer from a lack of basic resources face all of these problems.

Around the world, more than 730 million people live below the poverty line. Many of these people live in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. These poor countries also often suffer from internal violence that impacts their ability to address the needs and vulnerabilities of their citizens. As such, poverty and conflict have a reciprocal relationship, both contributing to the other.

The U.N. eradicates poverty through multiple commissions that address specific populations and the issues they face. For example, UNICEF, the U.N. children’s commission, works specifically to address children living in poverty globally. It does so by promoting education access and healthcare, as well mitigating the damaging effects of armed conflict. Through “fundraising, advocacy, and education,” this division of the U.N. eradicates poverty and helps children around the world.

Poverty and Human Rights

The U.N. outlines inalienable international human rights as the following: “the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.” One of the many detrimental effects of global poverty is high death rates. Poverty may cause death through water and food insecurity, as well as a lack of healthcare and medical access. This is why poverty is truly a human rights issue.

For someone to have a guarantee to life and liberty, they cannot be living in abject poverty. Education and the “right to work” are also rights affected by living in poverty. Education is sparse in many of the world’s poorest countries, which often suffer from high unemployment rates. This contributes to household income and citizens’ inability to provide for themselves and their families. Thus, poverty is a complex and multifaceted issue that affects all aspects of people’s lives, from their health and well-being to their futures.

The International Poverty Line

According to the U.N., as of 2015, there were “more than 736 million people liv[ing] below the international poverty line.” The international poverty line (IPL) quantifies people’s standard of living. This helps researchers, aid workers and governments assess people’s situation. It also allows these actors to assess their success in mitigating harm and promoting development. Foreign Policy explains that “The IPL is explicitly designed to reflect a staggeringly low standard of living, well below any reasonable conception of a life with dignity.”

The U.N. eradicates poverty by examining not only measures like the IPL but also the effects of extreme poverty. The number of people below the poverty line is important, but the U.N. focuses on what this means for people living in such poverty. For example, the U.N. notes that “[a]round 10 percent of the world population is living in extreme poverty and struggling to fulfill the most basic needs like health, education.”

The Future of the U.N. and Poverty

The U.N. is likely to remain one of the leading forces in the eradication of poverty and the promotion of human rights. Its unique history, size and diverse commissions make it a powerful organization. In particular, the commissions that work with vulnerable populations will be essential to securing the safety and prosperity of those living in poverty. Importantly, the U.N. eradicates poverty with the support of its 193 member states, as it depends on their sponsorship and help in conflict resolution. Just as poverty has no borders, neither should the solutions we use to solve it.

Kiahna Stephens
Photo: Flickr

International Law and Global Poverty
To understand the relationship between international law and global poverty, it is important to first acknowledge which laws are relevant. Among others, these include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides the right to life; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which provides the right to social protection, an adequate standard of living and access to food, health and education; and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to an education.

Philip Alston, the former Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, states that poverty is a political choice that countries make. There is a clear relationship between poverty and failure to fulfill basic human rights. Some indicators of poverty that are relevant to international rights laws and standards include primary school enrollment, nutritional indicators, life expectancy and disease.

Is a Rights-Based Approach Better?

The World Bank indexes poverty rates across countries using the International Poverty Line (IPL). A wide range of institutions use the IPL — including the U.N. — and is based on an absolute line that is well below the national poverty line of some countries. According to Alston, this leads to less than optimal progress and a false perspective of the state of global poverty.

Low-income individuals can rise above the IPL that the World Bank established yet continue to face barriers in accessing basic human rights, which suggests a need for an alternative approach to addressing poverty. David Woodward, a British economist, developed one such alternative, which he claims resolves the problems inherent to the World Bank’s measurement and the wider way in which poverty is addressed. His alternative, termed the Rights-Based Poverty Line (RBPL), recognizes the relationship between income, poverty, and economic and social rights, which are enshrined in international law.

A rights-based approach to poverty eradication garners support across a wide range of international organizations. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights directly references poverty as the gravest impediment to the fulfillment of human rights globally. The Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Development Programme establishes that a rights-based approach can result in a higher degree of effectiveness due to the legal obligations for states to ensure those rights. The United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural organization maintains that poverty eradication will only occur when poverty receives acknowledgment as a violation of human rights.

Leveraging International Law to Eradicate Poverty

COVID-19 represents a serious challenge to the eradication of global poverty; however, it may also provide an opportunity for utilizing a rights-based approach. Estimates determine that the global population of people who will fall into poverty will increase by 8% as a result of the economic shocks that the pandemic brought on. Other figures estimate an additional 70 million people could fall into extreme poverty due to the impact of COVID-19.

COVID-19 has lifted the veil shrouding the vast social inequalities present in the world. The poorest margins of society that the pandemic most heavily impacted, in terms of both vulnerabilities to the virus and economic consequences. This is the result of socioeconomic inequalities and discrimination faced by those living in poverty. One example is a lack of adequate housing, which leads to a higher risk of contracting the virus because of either cramped living spaces or a lack of adequate water and sanitation.

Given the links between international law and poverty, a rights-based approach may be a suitable option for the global COVID-19 response. Most countries’ current COVID-19 responses fail to adequately protect the rights of those living in poverty. Discriminatory social protection policies are widespread, in direct violation of international rights standards. For instance, food assistance in Uganda is only reaching an estimated 17% of the population living in poverty, thanks to exclusionary policies mandating that assistance goes to specified urban areas. Meanwhile, a recently proposed emergency stimulus bill completely circumvents the 80% of Nigerian workers who are employed in the informal sector, providing support only for those in the formal sector.

The Human Rights Watch provides recommendations for overcoming these shortcomings through the implementation of a rights-based approach. At the government level, there is a need to ensure social protection, access to adequate living and health, among other rights. In terms of international assistance, there is a need to uphold human rights standards through the allocation of funds in favor of socioeconomic programs, minimum basic incomes, adequate housing protections and fiscal policies relating to poverty and inequality.

In Conclusion

Current U.S. policy regarding foreign assistance relating to the COVID-19 response does not detail a rights-based approach. However, USAID’s Feed the Future has adapted its programs to the pandemic, supporting the right to food and alleviating hunger. A number of international organizations and experts suggest that a rights-based approach will be the most effective means of integrating international law and global poverty to protect lives around the world, especially in the face of COVID-19.

Leah Bordlee
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in Costa Rica

Poverty in Costa Rica remains an issue facing many people. The Republic of Costa Rica is a small country located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The country is greatly known for its tropical climate, which attracts millions of tourists every year. The sun, the sea and the nation’s wide variety of mountains and volcanoes have made the economy of Costa Rica mostly based on tourism.

Poverty in Costa Rica is not something that tourists often think about. Surrounded by the nation’s bountiful beauty, it is hard for many to believe that extreme poverty exists within what seems like paradise.

The unfortunate truth is that 1.1 million people currently live in poverty in Costa Rica. Most of the poor population in the country is situated within rural areas. The farther one goes from the metropolitan areas, the more poverty increases. Along with it, there is a lack of resources, fewer job opportunities and more.

The problem of poverty in such country does not end with the fact that over a million people suffer from it every day. The bigger concern is that such poverty has not been reduced for the past two decades.

In spite of this being the case, Costa Rica has the lowest poverty rate in Central America. Around 20 percent of the population live below the national poverty line of earning less than $155 per month. But, only two percent of the citizens in Costa Rica live below what is considered to be the international poverty line, living on less than one dollar per day.

Fortunately, initiatives have been taken in order to reduce poverty in Costa Rica. “Puente del Desarrollo,” or “Bridge of Development,” is a plan that took action throughout the years of 2015 and 2016, aiming to combine social programs into one bigger program. The program is still in action, and its goal is to help up to 54,600 families living below the Costa Rican poverty line by 2018.

– Paula Gibson

Photo: Flickr

international poverty line

Pinning down the definition of poverty is essential for the multitude of global organizations looking to improve the well-being of the global population. Measuring just income can leave out information about a community’s environment.

The World Bank’s International Poverty Line

The World Bank’s International Poverty Line is one of the most popular measures of poverty for all kinds of relief organizations. Between 2008 and 2015, this measure was defined as those individuals living on less than $1.25 a day. By this measure, “just over 900 million people globally lived under this line in 2012” and projections for 2015 pin the amount as  over 700 million.

Last year September, the International Poverty Line was moved up to $1.90 a day to account for inflation and the cost of goods in various countries.

When an organization redefines the way poverty is assessed, it can change the people whom it targets and the scope of its operations. In that way, adjusting the parameters needs to be a careful, precise process in which the target population is not misrepresented.

How Is It Used?

The World Bank uses an International Poverty Line measuring an individual’s daily purchase power so that it can gauge the population who can meet their “minimum nutritional, clothing and shelter needs” in their country. Using an average of various national poverty lines, the international financial group generates its International Poverty Line from calculations involving purchasing power parity exchange rates.

A Project Syndicate article, however, reported on the Spring Meetings in Washington D.C. in which the World Bank would begin “[recommending] additional metrics.” The establishment of the Commission on Global Poverty will research new ways to assess the quality of life that look beyond income.

The author of the article mentions an analysis done at Fundacion Paraguaya, a Paraguayan organization which spearheads “Poverty Spotlight.”

This initiative uses the power of data to help “families self-assess their level of poverty in 50 indicators grouped into 6 dimensions of poverty which are: Income & Employment, Health & Environment, Housing & Infrastructure, Education & Culture, Organization & Participation and Interiority & Motivational.”

Poverty Spotlight’s approach allows for a customized solution to the specific situation in which a family might find themselves. In addition, Fundacion Paraguaya says that the method “breaks down the often ‘overwhelm’ concept of poverty into a series of smaller manageable poverty problems.” In more ways than one, relief becomes more of a system of change than a cash donation.

Reshaping Poverty Relief Campaigns

The World Bank’s efforts to research assessment methods using multidimensional analysis could reshape poverty relief campaigns across the globe. Adopting an indicator like the Social Progress Index could change how societies are viewed. According to this measurement, the United States is ranked 16th in the world while Norway and Sweden are ranked 1st and 2nd.

The International Poverty Line will be reevaluated this month by the Commission on Global Poverty. No matter what is deemed important in rating living conditions, the goal of reducing the resulting number will prevail.

Jacob Hess

Photo: Flickr


In October 2015, the World Bank raised the international poverty line from $1.25 to $1.90 per day.

The international poverty line was originally introduced in 1990 and is determined by combining national poverty lines from the world’s poorest nations. From there, the World Bank uses Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) rates to convert the poverty line into U.S. dollars and currencies of other developing countries.

The international poverty line has become the benchmark for policy goals regarding poverty, including the U.N.’s Millennial Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Every few years, the Independent Comparison Program (ICP) publishes new sets of PPPs, reflecting both changes in relative price around the world and methodological changes.

Beginning in 1991, PPPs from 1985 created the very first international poverty line at $1 per day. Since then, new sets of PPPs have been published in both 1993 and 2005, increasing the international poverty lines $1.08 per day and $1.25 per day, respectively.

Using PPPs from data collected in 2011, the international poverty line increased is now set at $1.90, based on an increase in the cost of living globally

Today’s poverty line reflects accurate costs of food, clothing and shelter needs around the world. Based on data from the World Bank, more than 700 million people still live below the poverty line compared to 900 million in 2012.

While extreme poverty has decreased over the past 10 years, organizations similar to The Borgen Project are essential in raising awareness for the continued struggle to end poverty.

New data regarding global poverty will be collected in April 2016 and will determine how well efforts to eradicate poverty have paid off.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: Jagran Josh, The World Bank
Photo: The Guardian

Currently, poverty is considered apparent when someone lives on less than $1.25 a day, but some question the reliability of this simplistic measurement. Therefore, the World Bank has announced that a new commission will propose revisions to the International Poverty Line to account for the many components of poverty in every country.

It turns out that the way we have been thinking about poverty is in over-generalized terms. When the United Nations announced its post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, first on the list was the eradication of poverty “in all forms.” The notion that global poverty is multi-faceted is becoming universally accepted, and is acknowledged by the Bank’s chief economist, Kaushik Basu, who said, “The Global Commission will advise us on other dimensions of poverty that the Bank should collect data on, track, analyze and make available to policymakers for evidence-based decisions.”

A more data-driven reason for revising the way we measure poverty comes from a 2011 price survey from the International Comparison Program, which analyzes economic activity and poverty in almost every country. But evaluating the data gets complicated; depending on how the data is used, the results vary greatly, showing either a dramatic decrease in poverty or little decrease. Prices and exchange rates are changing, so the $1.25 a day standard must account for this.

Another problem with the current International Poverty Line occurs when a country’s poverty level decreases; it can be dropped from the list of countries averaged to set the IPL, resulting in a skewed measurement of progress. In addition, economic comparisons among countries include the exchange of all goods, while assessing only some goods is significant for impoverished communities.

The commission advising the Bank will consist of 24 leading international economists, and the report will be finished by April 2016. The World Bank hopes that a revised IPL will increase the possibility of attaining its two goals; the first goal is to bring the number of impoverished people to less than 3 percent of the global population by 2030, and the second is to increase per capita income of the poorest 40 percent of each country’s population.

Alterations in the International Poverty Line will change the way we define poverty in the first place, impacting philanthropy everywhere. Basu said, “We expect the Commission report to be influential not only for our own work on poverty but also in shaping global research and policymaking on this most important challenge of our times.”

Jordan Reabold

Sources: Devpolicy, World Bank 1, World Bank 2
Photo: Give A Billion