Why Should it Matter that Others Have More? - Poverty, Inequality and the Potential of International Human Rights Law
22 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2010 Last revised: 12 Jan 2011
Date Written: November 19, 2010
A concern with ensuring minimum standards of dignity for all and a doctrine based on the need to secure for everyone basic levels of rights have traditionally shaped the way in which international human rights law addresses poverty. Whether this minimalist, non-relational approach befits international law objectives in the area of world poverty begs consideration. This paper offers three justifications as to why global material inequality – and not just poverty – should matter to international human rights law. The paper then situates requirements regarding the improvement of living conditions, a system of equitable distribution in the case of hunger, and in particular obligations of international cooperation, within the post-1945 international effort at people-centred development. The contextual consideration of relevant tenets serves to demonstrate that positive international human rights law can be applied beyond efforts at poverty alleviation to accommodate a doctrine of fair global distribution.
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