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Poverty, a barrier to the enjoyment of human rights, says Luca Volontè

Strasbourg, 17.10.2011 – “Poverty is a barrier to the enjoyment of human rights, whether civil and political rights or social, economic and cultural rights,” Luca Volontè (Italy, EPP/CD), former rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on combating poverty said today, on the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

“Poverty, which singles out the disabled, the elderly, unmarried mothers and many other categories, necessarily curtails the exercise of human rights for its victims,” he added. “The human rights based approach to reduction of poverty demands that the laws should foster genuine access to these rights, founded on the principles of non-discrimination and equal opportunities.” Mr Volontè also emphasised the importance of promoting voluntary service, which helps to strengthen solidarity and can thus be a further means of combating poverty.

On that account, he believes that the Council of Europe instruments for the protection of social rights, such as the European Social Charter*, should serve as a basis for the member states to act. “Article 30 on the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion should become one of the key provisions of the European Social Charter*, and all Council of Europe member states should consent to be bound by this provision,” said Mr Volontè.

“Besides compliance with the obligations arising from Article 30 of the European Social Charter*, honouring the obligations stipulated by other articles, especially as regards the right to a fair wage, to social security, to social and medical assistance or to protection in the event of job loss, is essential for combating poverty.” “The ratification and application of the entire European Social Charter* would be a significant step forward on the path of safeguarding the rights of the population, prosperity and enhancement of social cohesion,” Mr Volontè concluded.