From Undeserving Poor To Rights Holder : A Human Rights Perspective On Social Protection Systems

Author: Magdalena Sepúlveda
Year: 2014
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Over recent years, social protection strategies have rapidly gained striking political support and widespread acceptance in development discourse and practice. However, although development actors generally acknowledge that human rights should play an essential role in poverty reduction, there has

been a lack of deep analysis of the implications of human rights obligations for social protection. This article attempts to bridge the two paradigms, building on the author’s existing work on social protection and human rights. Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona discusses how the persistent stigma around poverty among politicians, policy-makers and the general public has been a major obstacle to achieving the full potential of social protection to tackle poverty. She argues that the human rights approach to social protection can help to dismantle the fallacy of the “undeserving poor”, towards a model in which people living in poverty are understood as individuals with inherent dignity and entitlements to social protection. The article concludes with a case study of how this approach would inform gender-sensitive social protection programmes, for example with regard to eligibility criteria, participation and conditionalities.


Related Principles

Universality of Protection

States parties to major human rights instruments related to economic, social and cultural rights such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) have an immediate minimum core obligation to ensure the satisfaction of, at the very least, minimum essential levels of all economic, social and cultural rights such as the right […]

Social Protection and Human Rights