Accueil 9 The history of the Forum on Overcoming Extreme Poverty

The history of the Forum on Overcoming Extreme Poverty


First steps of the forum

Formalization of the links built by Joseph Wresinski since the beginning of the ATD Fourth World Movement by launching the “Permanent Forum on extreme poverty in the world”.

June 1980

Letter to our African Friends

“You know that for several years now, we have been trying to establish a network of relations with all those who want to fight against extreme poverty on different continents. We called this network the Permanent Forum on Extreme Poverty. Today, we would like to transform the hitherto individual contacts into a stream of permanent exchanges where everyone can speak and hear the experience and reflections of others. Our sharing could thus help to consolidate solidarity between people with the same ideal of liberation of the poorest, excluded from any hope of well-being and participation in the future of the world around them.



Seminar Extreme poverty and exclusion in Africa

In his welcome speech on May 19, 1981 in Pierrelaye, Joseph Wresinski called on the most disadvantaged people from Africa to share their knowledge and experience to fight against exclusion in Africa as well as in Europe:
« (…) Who better than you can know what it means to have one’s history, one’s identity, one’s inalienable wealth as a man and a people ignored? Who better than you can understand why the poorest, the most excluded people in the world need us to reconstruct their history with them, to listen to them, not because we want to educate them but because we need to be educated by them? »

October 17, 1987


First Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty

At the call of Father Joseph Wresinski, 100,000 human rights defenders gathered on the Trocadero square in Paris to honor the victims of hunger, violence and ignorance, to express their refusal of misery and to call on humanity to unite to ensure respect for human rights. A Commemorative Stone in Honour of the Victims of Extreme Poverty, proclaiming this message, was inaugurated on this occasion on the Human Rights Plaza in Paris where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948.


The Commemorative Stone in honor of the victims of extreme poverty, Human Rights Plaza, Trocadero, Paris



First replica of the Commemorative Stone in the Hall of the International Labour Office (Switzerland).

Since then, 35 other replicas have been installed around the world
To visit the replicas of the Dalle

April 17, 1989

Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Secretary General of the United Nations, visits the commemorative stone in honor of the victims of extreme poverty,

“As Secretary-General of the United Nations and above all as a human being, I read with deep emotion these words of Father Joseph Wresinski. This inscription is a permanent inspiration for our efforts to overcome poverty. I am a representative of the UN, the organization of peace. But I do not believe that peace is just the absence of war. We cannot talk about peace as long as there is misery in the world.”

December 22, 1992

United Nations Resolutions

The general assembly,
Noting that the eradication of poverty and misery in all countries, especially in developing countries, has become one of the priority development goals for the 1990s and considering that it is necessary to raise public awareness to promote it,
Welcoming the fact that some non-governmental organizations, at the initiative of one of them, have decided in recent years in many countries to make October 17 a “World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty”,
1. Decides that, beginning in 1993, 17 October shall be the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty,

October 17, 1993

October 17 declared National Day in the Philippines

By presidential proclamation, October 17 was declared a National Day in the Philippines. That day, a replica of the Commemorative Stone gathered in the heart of Manila, in Rizal Park, a crowd from all walks of life. Later, other replicas were created in other places in the country.

1994 -Second International Congress of Fourth World Families

Reaching the poorest – a study with Unicef

Important contribution of Fourth World correspondents and families to the study conducted with UNICEF “Reaching the Poorest
Read more

February 12, 1996

Manéga, Burkina Faso,
the first replica of the Commemorative Stone implanted in Africa

“Ziig ning faan neb sen vi ne fare, A faagda buum la burkidlem zems taaba n ku fare yaa burkin tuum pakré”.
Under this Stone lie lands from all walks of life, all conditions, all ages.

Decade 1996-2006

Very poor families are recognised as partners in building the world of tomorrow.

1996 was officially designated “International Year for the Eradication of Poverty”. This year has been an important step in the long march of very poor families to be welcomed as partners in places where people reflect and decide on their future. The IYEP was one more step in the long struggle of very poor families to be recognized as partners everywhere that people debate and decide a common future. With this Year, and the First International Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006), another page of a new history, common to all men and women, has been written.
Press released – October 30, 1996

October 17, 1996

A replica of the Commemorative Stone at UN headquarters in New York

This present was given on the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
A replica of the Commemorative Stone in New York

September 2005

Mediterranean Seminar
A gathering of those who in various Mediterranean countries work in closest proximity with people in poverty.

About 50 people from ten countries around the Mediterranean took up the challenge of moving together to live and reflect on a shared concern for the situation and future of the most vulnerable people.
“I see within these young people whose lives are very difficult, a treasure, pearls that should not be denied, forgotten”. Sako, cofounder of Beitouna, Lebanon


Report A/61/308 of the United Nations Secretary-General on Observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

The report states that people living in extreme poverty are human rights defenders and peace builders. In its Conclusions and Recommendations, the report identifies ways to promote mobilisation in the fight against extreme poverty. It emphasises the importance of a rights-based approach and the active participation of people living in extreme poverty.