International Commemoration

The Department of Social Affairs and other United Nations agencies mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty each year with many partners, in particular with the International Committee for October 17 and people experiencing poverty acting together with those who stand with them for a world without poverty.

Every year, IDEP presents an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts and struggles of people living in poverty, for them to make their concerns heard by the UN system and Member States, and for the world to recognize that they are the first ones to fight against poverty. Today, they are also the most affected by the impact of the global pandemic and climate change.

Dignity for all in practice is the umbrella theme of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty for 2022-2023. The dignity of the human being is not only a fundamental right in itself but constitutes the basis of all other fundamental rights. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrined human dignity in its preamble:

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

“Dignity” is not an abstract concept: it belongs to each and every one. Today, many people living in persistent poverty experience their dignity being denied and disrespected. The ways in which the poorest people are treated are a measure of the respect in which human dignity is held in our societies. Personal agency helps define a life in dignity, in which individuals have the freedom to make informed choices and to participate meaningfully in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.

The promise of human rights and dignity for all in practice is possible and must be achieved. In the words of Bertine, an activist from Burkina Faso:

“We have to fight for dignity together because my dignity is nothing if my neighbor has none.”

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2022

“Since 1992 we have come together on October 17 without fail to mark this special event at the United Nations. Even at the height of the Covid pandemic when we could not gather in person, we found innovative ways to come together virtually.
One important feature of all these commemorations has remained constant. Every year since 1992, we have created a safe space here at the United Nations which respects and safeguards the dignity of everyone. In this safe space, people with lived experience of poverty have been able to share their very personal testimonies about their fight against poverty. Their courage in sharing their lived experiences over the last 30 years has inspired us to recommit to efforts to overcome poverty everywhere.”

From Donald Lee statement during the Commemoration. The remarkable speeches of the several guests invite us to continue our efforts to overcome poverty.

Can you imagine a world where the dignity of everyone is respected in practice, as is the international theme for 17 October this year?

Can you just imagine living in poverty for 35 years or longer, like I wasn’t even born, my mother lived in poverty, struggled against it with all her courage but stood alone and so we also grew up in poverty, so it’s way longer to overcome it.

That is the reason I am here; to try and show you that even though I have gone through this that I still have a voice and I intend to use it so my kids don’t have to go through what I have gone through.

Dignity is not only about having access to economic resources; this is also about how society looks at you because of the color of your skin or because of your gender, and how this gives you more or fewer privileges. This is racism.

In my everyday life in New York, I try to find ways to help people have a dignified life. To help people get connected with education, have access to food, do their paperwork. The community is a space where you learn and share those tools, where you find support. If it is not changing the world, I want to at least make a small change in the life of one person and this is important. It is like planting a seed, una semilla.
Being an immigrant is most of the time, not a choice. It is a consequence of poverty. In Honduras today our only choice is to fight, even though we have a lot of resources.

We don’t need anymore martyrs, we need people alive to make changes.

Here is the video of the intervention of Elise Kabré and Moïse Compaoré, Fourth World activists from Burkina Faso, watched during the international commemoration 2022

Here is the video “Children’s Voices”, broadcast on the occasion of the International Commemoration 2022 (in English and French)