We do not know the Australian Philip Alston, nor did we know that until summer 2020 he was the UN’s “Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights”. Before leaving his post, to be replaced by the Belgian Olivier De Schutter, Alston produced a report with the title ‘The parlous state of poverty eradication’. This report should be read by everyone, because it lays bare the inconsistencies that are used globally to “pacify” critics and suppress protests from those who might be inclined to revolt.
Alston does not mince his words: extreme poverty is not being eliminated. On the contrary, the thresholds set by the World Bank are not only wrong but misleading. Below is the summary of the report and we recommend reading the whole thing, which is linked to at the end of this section.
“The world is at an existential crossroads involving a pandemic, a deep economic recession, devastating climate change, extreme inequality, and an uprising against racist policies. Running through all of these challenges is the longstanding neglect of extreme poverty by many governments, economists, and human rights advocates.
By single-mindedly focusing on the World Bank’s flawed international poverty line, the international community mistakenly gauges progress in eliminating poverty by reference to a standard of miserable subsistence rather than an even minimally adequate standard of living. This in turn facilitates greatly exaggerated claims about the impending eradication of extreme poverty and downplays the parlous state of impoverishment in which billions of people still subsist.
While the Sustainable Development Goals have achieved a great deal, they are failing in relation to key goals such as poverty eradication, economic equality, gender equality, and climate change. They need to be recalibrated in response to COVID-19, the ensuing recession, and accelerating global warming.
Poverty is a political choice and its elimination requires: (i) reconceiving the relationship between growth and poverty elimination; (ii) tackling inequality and embracing redistribution; (iii) promoting tax justice; (iv) implementing universal social protection; (v) centering the role of government; (vi) embracing participatory governance; (vii) adapting international poverty measurement.”https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session44/Pages/ListReports.aspx