The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) embodied an unprecedented international consensus on poverty reduction as a shared global enterprise, framed around a limited set of commitments for which both developed and developing countries could be held to account. Their breadth of scope was intended to foster understanding of poverty as a multidimensional problem; their selectivity, as an aid to prioritizing efforts and resources. By setting quantifiable, time-bound targets around a range of indicators, they instilled a shared sense of urgency, as well as providing a statistical basis for reliable tracking of progress across countries.

The research on multidimensional poverty has gathered momentum in the last half-decade and more remarkably in the aftermath of the global food and financial crises of 2007-2008. It has gathered further momentum since the UNDP-OPHI launched the 2010 Human Development Report (HDR) and more recently as part of the continuing debate on the global development agenda post-2015.

In March 2010, the United Nations Secretary-General released his “Guidance Note on the United Nations Approach to Transitional Justice”. Its principle 9 calls on the United Nations to “strive to ensure transitional justice processes and mechanisms take account of the root causes of conflict and repressive rule, and address violations of all rights, including economic, social and cultural rights.” The Guidance Note further emphasizes that such an approach is needed for peace to prevail.

This pamphlet is intended to introduce you to the work of my office in meeting the greatest challenge facing human rights today: translating international human rights standards into national laws and practices. The protection and promotion of human rights have only a limited life in the legal phrasings of treaties; they must be given meaning in individual lives. When I accepted this position, I tried to put the challenge as starkly as I could: “Ensuring that human rights are attainable by those who need them most — the victims of human rights violations is what gives the United Nations meaning.”

From Exclusion to Equality Realizing the rights of persons with disabilities : The secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - DESA is the focal point within the United Nations Secretariat on disability matters. It acts as a clearinghouse for information on disability issues; prepares publications; promotes national, regional and international programmers and activities; provides support to Governments and civil society; and gives substantial support to technical cooperation projects and activities.

Human Rights and Poverty Reduction A Conceptual Framework : Human rights may seem distant ideals if your family is starving, if you cannot protect yourself or them from preventable illnesses or provide your children with basic education. Yet it is in circumstances of crisis and extreme deprivation that human rights assume their greatest importance.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Handbook for National Human Rights Institutions : Human rights are a legal statement of what human beings require to live fully human lives. Collectively they are a comprehensive, holistic statement. All human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social—are recognized as a universal, indivisible and interdependent body of rights, as originally foreseen in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights .

Frequently Asked Questions on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights : In the past 15 years interest in promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights has grown. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia, Governments and the judiciary are paying increasing attention to the protection of these rights in their programmes, policies and case law, and highlighting the need to respect them as a key to ensuring greater overall enjoyment of human rights.

Human rights are central to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight overarching targets derived from the Millennium Declaration that aim to reduce poverty, ill health and inequality as well as increase access to education and improve environmental sustainability. Human rights highlight the discrimination, inequality, powerlessness and accountability failures that lie at the root of poverty and deprivation.

The right to adequate housing is clearly recognized in international human rights law, including in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which provides for “the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions” (art. 11.1).

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