The Human Rights Implications of Extreme Inequality

United Nations, General Assembly, Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, A/HRC/29/31 (27 May 2015)

NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 18-06

34 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2018

See all articles by Philip Alston

Philip Alston

New York University School of Law

Date Written: February 2018

Abstract

In a report to the UN Human Rights Council the author focuses on the relationship between extreme poverty and extreme inequality and argues that a human rights framework is critical in addressing extreme inequality. The analysis provides an overview of the widening economic and social inequalities around the world; illustrates how such inequalities stifle equal opportunity, lead to laws, regulations and institutions that favor the powerful, and perpetuate discrimination against certain groups, and further discusses the negative effects of economic inequalities on a range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The Study also analyses the response of the international community, including the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to the challenge of extreme inequality, finding that human rights are absent in the inequality debate and that little has been done to follow up on any of the studies or recommendations emerging from the United Nations human rights system.

In conclusion, the study proposes an agenda for the future for tackling inequality, including: committing to reduce extreme inequality; giving economic, social and cultural rights the same prominence and priority as are given to civil and political rights; recognizing the right to social protection; implementing fiscal policies specifically aimed at reducing inequality; revitalizing and giving substance to the right to equality; and putting questions of resource redistribution at the center of human rights debates.

Suggested Citation

Alston, Philip, The Human Rights Implications of Extreme Inequality (February 2018). United Nations, General Assembly, Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, A/HRC/29/31 (27 May 2015), NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 18-06, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3117156

Philip Alston (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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