Commission welcomes UN expert on extreme poverty to Belfast

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Commission welcomes UN expert on extreme poverty to Belfast

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission will meet with the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor Philip Alston, this weekend.

The Special Rapporteur will meet with Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby, and other staff on Saturday, in efforts to gather evidence on the impact of poverty in Northern Ireland.

The Special Rapporteur’s visit to Belfast is part of a UK-wide official visit, which sees him travelling to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to investigate government efforts to eradicate poverty in the country. His key focus areas will be: the effect of austerity measures, the roll out of Universal Credit, child poverty, the implications of Brexit on poverty, and the impact of an increasingly digital government on the most vulnerable.

Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby, commented:

“Wewelcome the visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights to Belfast. Poverty is a daily reality for too many people with recent research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation indicating that there are 370,000 people living in poverty in Northern Ireland. The Rapporteur’s visit is therefore a very timely and important opportunity for the local community to provide feedback on the human rights standards signed up to by the UK government. We look forward to his report that will follow the visit.”

During his visit to Belfast, the Special Rapporteur will also participate in a roundtable with civil society organisations, hosted by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Consortium. Following this, he will meet with individuals affected by poverty in Northern Ireland.

Director of the Human Rights Consortium, Kevin Hanratty, said:

“The UK exit from the European Union represents a potentially unprecedented threat to rights protections in Northern Ireland. Those already suffering marginalisation in terms of rights protections are often the same groups in society worst affected by poverty. We must ensure that as we exit the EU we continue to not only maintain, but also progress rights protections, and also that we ensure that any negative economic impact of Brexit does not have a disproportionate impact on those already experiencing poverty.”

Ahead of his visit, the Special Rapporteur commented:

“The United Kingdom is one of the richest countries in the world, but millions of people are still living in poverty there. Poverty is intertwined with human rights standards that the United Kingdom has ratified, including the right to food, housing and an adequate standard of living and it affects access to civil and political rights. The government has made significant changes to social protection in the past decade, and I will be looking closely at the impact that has had on people living in poverty and their realisation of basic rights.”

Notes to Editors:

1. The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights is designated by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to monitor, report and advise on extreme poverty and its intersection with human rights.

UN Special Rapporteur, Professor Philip Alston, will be visiting the UK from 5-16th November, during which he will visit Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Jaywick, London, and Newcastle.

2. Ahead of his visit, the Special Rapporteur has received almost 300 submissions from people affected by poverty, civil society organisations, and governments. Those made public with the authors’ consent are available here.

3. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission submitted evidence to the UN Special Rapporteur in September 2018. The submission can be found here.


09 Nov 2018