During the opening session of the two-day meeting, sponsored by the Permanent Missions of France and Burkina Faso at the United Nations, H.E Mr. Cassam Uteem reminded participants that the international community needs to listen and to understand people living in extreme poverty, as they are the ones who already struggle to eradicate it and the real experts whose input is essential.
October 17, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, is a call for us all to unite against extreme poverty in solidarity with its victims. As one participant, Ms Jean Stallings, said “With my experience of extreme poverty I know what it is to be humiliated, to be spoken down to...Speaking out makes us feel dignified. It is not just on October 17, but all through the year, that people living in extreme poverty must be listened to”.
In this way, the International Committee for October 17 paves the way for the international community, being composed of people from very different backgrounds, including people with a lived experience of extreme poverty.
The Committee meeting hosted guests from New Orleans, USA – Imam Rafeeq H. Numan and Robert Mauss. Salehe Seif, currently working in New Orleans, and originally from Tanzania, was also present, as was Julie Huberdeau, from Montreal (Qc) Canada. They contributed to the meeting and highlighted the significance of the internationality of October 17. Participants further underscored the importance of raising awareness for October 17, to demonstrate what people living in poverty are capable of, to honour their courage and strength.
On 4th May 2012, H.E Mr. Cassam Uteem, former President of the Republic of Mauritius, handed over the presidency of the International Committee for October 17 to Mr. Donald Lee, formerly at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations. The International Committee for October 17 also welcomed new members, H.E Mr. José Ramos-Horta, former President of East Timor, co-recipient of the Nobel Peace prize in 1993, and Mr. Antoine Corgier, from France, who has a long history of working alongside people in poverty.