Every attitude, every gesture has to fight poverty and exclusion. There are many ways to act, regardless of our skills and availability. These messages, these testimonials reflect. Feel free to contribute.

Testimonies are published under the responsibility of the author. They are subject to validation: these will be published only if they comply, in form and substance the spirit of this day as defined in the International Charter for October 17.



Message from the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty


Far more than charity is needed to lift 2.2 billion people out of poverty for good, says Philip Alston

GENEVA (16 October 2014) – If poverty is ever really to be eradicated, States will need to adopt a human rights-based approach and to place the right to social protection at the centre of their anti-poverty policies and programmes, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston.

On the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, commemorated on Friday, 17 October 2014, the United Nations expert urged all international actors to go beyond charity by supporting the United Nations Social Protection Floor Initiative to guarantee basic income security and access to essential social services for all.

“Another International Day for the Eradication of Poverty…For many, this will conjure up images of helpless individuals, dependent on charity to survive, but such a stereotype is misleading and deeply problematic,” says Mr. Alston.

“The Biblical notion that ‘the poor will always be with us’ remains true only as long as the international community’s approach to poverty eradication is based on charity and discretionary governmental handouts, rather than on recognition of a human right to social protection.” According to the United Nations expert, the Governments must fulfil their human rights obligation to guarantee minimum social protection to everyone, rather than relying on a “Band-Aid” solution which perpetuates the need for charity.   

Over 2.2 billion people – more than 15 per cent of the world’s population – are estimated by the United Nations to be either near or living in ‘multidimensional’ poverty with overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standards.

“This is not an accident”, in Mr. Alston’s view. “It is the result of a series of deliberate and conscious decisions by key actors who have chosen to prioritize other goals. The wiping out of extreme poverty could readily be achieved if it was a genuine priority of governments”. 

In his forthcoming report to the General Assembly,* he calls on the international community to back the very widely endorsed joint United Nations Social Protection Floor Initiative that aims to guarantee basic income security and access to essential social services for all. He points out that one of the major obstacles to universal implementation of Social Protection Floors is the ambivalence of key international actors towards the concept, especially the World Bank, which remains reluctant to buy in to the Initiative in a meaningful way and has chosen instead to focus on ‘social safety nets’.

“Unless there is a change of heart on the Bank’s part, the development community will continue to be pushed to focus on so-called ‘social safety nets’, aimed at a limited number of the extreme poor,” says Mr. Alston.  “Poverty eradication will continue to be addressed as a matter of bureaucratically defined and designed welfare policy, rather than as a matter of human rights.”

(*) The promotion of Social Protection Floors will be the focus of the Special Rapporteur’s report to the General Assembly, to be presented on 24 October 2014. Read the report here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/newyork/Pages/HRreportstothe69thsessionGA.aspx

Philip Alston (Australia) took office as UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in June 2014, following his appointment by the Human Rights Council. He is John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University School of Law.  Mr. Alston has previously

Philip Alston

2014 - Message from the Secretary General of the United Nations


17 October 2014

On this day we recommit to think, decide and act together against extreme poverty -- and plan for a world where no-one is left behind.

We have reached the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of people living in poverty ahead of time. At least 700 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty between 1990 and 2010.

Despite this enormous success, one in every five persons in developing regions -- 1.22 billion people -- live on less than $1.25 a day, an d 2.4 billion live on less than $2 a day.

Since the beginning of the financial crisis, inequality has grown even more pronounced than it was already. Discrimination against women and girls remains a blatant injustice, robbing the entire development enterprise of one of the keys to progress.

Entrenched poverty and prejudice, and vast gulfs between wealth and destitution, can undermine the fabric of societies and lead to instability. Where poverty holds sway, people are held back. Lives disfigured by poverty are cruel, mean and, often, short.

As we prepare the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and address the threat of climate change, we must not lose sight of our most fundamental obligation: to eliminate poverty in all its forms. We must also end the mar

ginalization of people living in poverty. Their knowledge and perspectives are vital if we are to find meaningful, durable solutions.

I urge Member States and all partners to act decisively together to eradicate poverty and build a sustainable, peaceful, prosperous and equitable future for all.

Our aim must be prosperity for all, not just a few.

Mr. Ban Ki-moon

Learning From People Who Think Night and Day About Poverty

Message from the International Leadership Team of ATD Fourth World

for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

17 October 2014

Learning From People Who Think Night and Day About Poverty

For centuries, people around the world have built memorials to both suffering and heroism. We hold ceremonies to honor those who have endured injustice or died fighting it. Through such memorials and ceremonies, we remind ourselves of war, slavery, oppression, and genocide with the hope: "never again."

But when do we recall the suffering and injustice that extreme poverty inflicts on people whose resistance leaves no trace upon the earth? They are buried in unmarked graves. Their neighborhoods are erased from our maps. Their words are forgotten.

October 17, the World Day for Overcoming Poverty, is a time to commemorate both the oppression and the courage of people in extreme poverty. This day expresses hope for an end to the brutality and contempt inflicted on the most vulnerable people everywhere. Commemorating this day demonstrates our belief that these people, scorned and ignored, are in fact vitally important to our communities and our nations. It shows that, together, we want to put an end to discrimination and to build a better future.

Fatimata, from Burkina Faso, writes: "Beyond suffering, there is humiliation; that's the worst. Fr. Joseph Wresinski [founder of ATD Fourth World] was right to call for an end to humiliating hand-outs that crush human dignity. […] Even in the deepest poverty, a person needs to share with others what little he has. […] I wonder whether the well-known figures in the struggle against poverty are actually the ones overcoming poverty? There are so many projects, so many words and books, so many researchers — but, despite this, poverty persists. I believe that all these words are understood, from A to Z, but I wonder if we don't need to invent a new alphabet to reinvent our struggle?"

This question reflects the words engraved on the Commemorative Stone, inaugurated on October 17, 1987, calling for "homage to the victims of hunger, ignorance, and violence." This ignorance about lives lived in poverty is rarely acknowledged. Our world suffers from not seeing the intelligence and creativity of people in poverty. Historians, researchers, and journalists often write about poverty, while the people resisting it in their daily lives have little opportunity to share their own thoughts and understanding. On October 17, we want to recognize the knowledge acquired by people living in poverty.

Thérèse, in Senegal, says: "No one has a monopoly on knowledge. We each know different things. People talk about 'the poor this,' and 'the poor that.' But the poor are the ones who think night and day. Someone with no worries can lie down at night thinking only of sleep. But someone who doesn't know how to feed his family tomorrow keeps thinking, even when lying down at night. I think this means that we have to share all our thinking, and especially that of the poor."

Our world suffers from being unaware of the courageous risks people in poverty take for peace, just as much as it suffers from the ignorance of stereotypes. Jean in the United States says: "In Ferguson, Missouri, the media showed protests and looting after a young man was shot by the police. Why do the media not show the courage of low-income men who risked violence to protect their community from looting? It comes from their heart, it should be talked about too!"


All of us are connected by a shared determination to end poverty. So we must ask ourselves: what do we need to do to move forward? A man who works on a logging crew in France says: "There's a man who just started working here. He is having a hard time doing the job. Others are complaining about him. But I know he needs the job and the money. Without it, what would become of him? If I have to pick up some slack so he has a chance to learn the job, I'll do it."

This man talking about a new worker also needs his paycheck. His determination to increase his own physically challenging work to make sure that his colleague will not be out of a job calls to mind similar efforts. In many communities, people of all backgrounds go out of their way to build a sense of community with others who desperately need decent work, decent housing, and decent schooling — or who simply need to be welcomed as neighbors, colleagues, and friends. People who have had to struggle to make ends meet at one time or another often choose to work in services where they can help others.

October 17 is a time to recognize all those who take risks and who make tremendous efforts to overcome poverty: the logger quoted above, for example; a teacher taking extra time to support a child who has missed many classes; or low-income housing residents who paint over graffiti that humiliates a newly arrived family.

These actions show what it means to muster energy to fight poverty every day. They move us all forward. To build a world of peace and respect, we all need to learn from these actions and many other new approaches for defying poverty. Together we are already inventing "a new alphabet" to help us understand our past and shape a better future.

Isabelle Pypaert Perrin,

Director General

Isabelle Pypaert Perrin, pour la Délégation générale

Message from the International Comittee for October 17

                                International Committee for October 17

Message for the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty - 
United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty  

Leave No One Behind: Think, Decide and Act Together Against Extreme Poverty

   People living in poverty know from experience that it is only when we work together that we are able to transform our lives and communities in order to build a more sustainable and equitable world for everyone.

   Without genuine social inclusion, nothing will change.

   Therefore, the new Sustainable Development Goals must ensure that the political commitments at the highest levels are translated into full and effective participation and implementation at the grass roots level. The theme of this year's commemoration of October 17, which was developed in close consultation with people living in poverty, captures their vision and aspirations for the new development environment in the post-2015 period.

   The call to “Leave no one behind” reminds us that we must eliminate discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion based on poverty, ethnic origin, gender, or economic and social status.

   It reminds us that we need to actively reach out to the most impoverished and excluded groups in our societies.

   It reminds us that our efforts to eradicate extreme poverty must uphold all human rights norms and standards, in keeping with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

   The call “To think, decide and act together against extreme poverty” reminds us that people living in poverty must be full and equal partners in building a more just and sustainable world.

   In this partnership, we must be able to create and share knowledge together; decide on strategies, policies and actions together; and act on or implement these decisions together.For too long the experience, knowledge and wisdom that people living in poverty can contribute have been largely ignored.

   Policy makers and experts talk about poverty but poor people have to struggle against poverty every single day.

   Policy makers and experts are eager to propose solutions and strategies but they almost never consult with people in poverty about what works or doesn’t work, or what is required to overcome poverty.

   Corporations and celebrities are welcomed at public dialogues but people living in poverty have to struggle to be heard on the very issues that affect them directly.

   Indeed, we gather on October 17 each year to demonstrate our partnership and solidarity with people living in poverty; to acknowledge and learn from their efforts to overcome poverty; and to defend their human rights and dignity.

   Therefore, if we are truly committed to creating a just and sustainable world free of poverty, we must build and nurture a genuine partnership with people living in poverty.

We will leave no one behind.

Donald Lee
, President, International Committee for October 17

Message from the UN Secretary General

                     MESSAGE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR                                 THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY

                                                17 October 2013

This year’s observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty comes as the international community is pursuing twin objectives: intensifying efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals, and formulating the next set of goals to guide our efforts after we reach the MDG target date of 2015. This post-2015 agenda must have poverty eradication as its highest priority and sustainable development at its core. After all, the only way to make poverty eradication irreversible is by putting the world on a sustainable development path.

We have much work ahead. While poverty levels have declined significantly, progress has been uneven. Our impressive achievement in cutting poverty by half should not blind us to the fact that more than 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty worldwide. Too many, especially women and girls, continue to be denied access to adequate health care and sanitation, quality education and decent housing. Too many young people lack jobs and the skills that respond to market demands. Rising inequality in many countries -- both rich and poor -- is fueling exclusion from economic, social and political spheres, and we know that the impacts of climate change and loss of biodiversity hit the poorest the hardest. All of this underpins the need for strong and responsive institutions.

We need to do more to listen and act for those whose voices often go unheard – people living in poverty, and in particular among them indigenous people, the elderly and those living with disabilities, the unemployed, migrants and minorities. We need to support them in their struggle to escape poverty and build better lives for themselves and their families.

If we are to realize the future we want for all, we must hear and heed the calls of the marginalized. For the last year, the UN has been doing just that by spearheading an unprecedented global conversation on the world people want. That dialogue must continue – and lead to the active and meaningful inclusion of people living in poverty -- as we chart a course to ending poverty everywhere.

Together, we can build a sustainable world of prosperity and peace, justice and equity – a life of dignity for all.

Mr Ban Ki-Moon

Secretary General

Mr Ban Ki-Moon