Redefining Human Rights-Based Development : The Wresinski Approach to Partnership With the Poorest/Part III
|←Part II - REDEFINING WORK AND HUMAN ACTIVITY TO ENHANCE SOCIAL INTEGRATION||Redefining Human Rights-Based Development : The Wresinski Approach to Partnership With the Poorest - Part III and Appendix|
|Source: UN Document ESA/DSPD/BP3 December 1999 Division for Social Policy and Development Department of Economic and Social Affairs UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK|
- 1 Contents
- 1.1 PART THREE: FURTHER INITIATIVES : THE WRESINSKI APPROACH – REDEFINING HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
- 1.2 Social integration
- 1.3 Full employment
- 1.4 Eradication of poverty
- 2 SELECTED REFERENCES
- 3 Appendix
- Part I -PARTNERSHIP WITH THE POOREST -TOWARDS A CULTURE FOR OVERCOMING POVERTY
- Part II — REDEFINING WORK AND HUMAN ACTIVITY TO ENHANCE SOCIAL INTEGRATION
- Part III — FURTHER INITIATIVES THE WRESINSKI APPROACH – REDEFINING HUMAN DEVELOPMENT and Appendix
PART THREE: FURTHER INITIATIVES : THE WRESINSKI APPROACH – REDEFINING HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Based on the experience and reflections developed throughout this document, the International Movement ATD Fourth World proposes the following further initiatives to implement the commitments taken at the Copenhagen Summit. These proposals are an integral part of what we call the Wresinski Approach, and they must be understood in the context of the conditions for partnership with the poorest elaborated in Part One of this paper.
All the initiatives proposed in relation to the three core issues of the Summit’s commitments should be implemented in an integrated way, to ensure as much as possible that their coherence is taken into account and is visible at all stages. A realistic view implies the recognition that not everything can be undertaken at the same time; but public policies should indicate a strong political will to follow the compass toward the comprehensive and forward-looking approach committed to in Copenhagen.
a. Harmony and cultural enrichment: Reaching the poorest
- "We feel as if we don’t belong to the real world. What kind of future do we have then? No work, no money, no freedom, nothing we can do. Without a job we can’t envisage beginning a family. The young people I know don’t want to have children because life is too difficult. Those who already have children asked themselves, ’If things go on as they are, what kind of life will they have?’ "
This young woman expresses the alienation felt by so many of our world’s poorest citizens. Many actors continue to try to create decent employment opportunities for everyone, while providing the support and training necessary if those who are most excluded from the labour market are to benefit. But these economic solutions must also be accompanied by an investment in all the different aspects of human life:
- Creating conditions that foster harmony in educational, cultural and creative activity, in social activity and community life; and enabling meaningful participation in public life, including political life. This should include promoting in everyone’s life a harmonious distribution of time devoted to all spheres of activities – balancing remunerated work with time for nurturing family members, neighbours and others, and for political, social and cultural participation.
- Broadening access to art and science so as to contribute to each person’s and each community’s cultural enrichment, as well as stimulating each person’s potential creativity for the benefit of the community.
The importance of these approaches to social integration were illustrated in the situations given in Part Two of this document: For instance, when the three Dalit women in India put on a play for the community depicting their real-life situation as untouchables, they introduced the lives of the excluded into collective memory. Similarly, the very poor parents in Côte d’Ivoire – who now meet regularly to bear witness to situations of injustice, and to strengthen connections to others who are fighting poverty – say: "These gatherings make us move forward, they stimulate our ideas for getting out of poverty."
b. People of diverse backgrounds making a personal commitment
People of all ages and at any time in their lives should be urged to voluntarily dedicate their time and talents to the fight against extreme poverty. This commitment might take various forms. It could be through participation in specific activities in areas of extreme poverty, with governmental and non-governmental agencies. It could be through sharing employment.
Wherever the poorest have been condemned to feeling useless, economic autonomy must be no less of a priority than creating opportunities where they can meet people from other backgrounds in order to learn from one another, and to try their collective hand at creative activities.
In addition to using their spare time to contribute to these efforts in their communities, people of all walks of life should be encouraged to make a full-time commitment through non-profit organisations dedicated to overcoming extreme poverty, for periods of a few months, a year, or a few years.
The International Year of Volunteers, 2001, should be an opportunity to evaluate and reinforce existing efforts in this field. This could be done within the framework of the United Nations Volunteers Programme or of initiatives taken by Member States or by the NGO community around the world.
c. Leadership in the commitment to fighting poverty
To create a consensus among their population for a commitment to fighting poverty and to encourage individual involvement on a larger scale, governments and intergovernmental bodies should give the necessary impetus in the most appropriate ways, taking into account local customs and traditions.
One such way is showing how these contributions in fighting poverty are valued. For instance, the United Kingdom is planning to introduce pension credits for those voluntarily providing care to the elderly and disabled. There are also several programs in the United States that reward the voluntary service commitments of young people by offering scholarships for higher education. Where possible, other such programmes could include sustainable financial support for initiatives that offer the possibility of sharing work and sharing cultural enrichment. It could also include financial support for sabbatical times for all – including the very poor, in work or out of work – which would provide possibilities for learning new skills, of enlarging cultural and social horizons. Universities in Thailand provide training and monitoring to post-graduate students who make a commitment to working in very poor communities.
Leadership is also needed to provide the necessary institutional and financial framework to support individual involvement, perhaps under the auspices of the United Nations. For instance, a recognised status could be created for those who work for a minimum of two years specifically for the eradication of extreme poverty.
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – 17 October – can be a launching point for these activities. Governments should follow the example of the Philippines, which has declared this a national day for people to unite in efforts guided by the very poor themselves.
In the short term, within the context of the International Year for the Culture of Peace (2000), UNESCO should be entrusted with the mandate of ensuring that the poorest population groups throughout the world have significant input, both during the celebration of this Year and to the proposals for follow-up. It is recommended that 17 October 2000 be dedicated to the link between constructing peace and overcoming poverty.
Employment is essential for every person to ensure his or her personal and familial financial security. Employment with dignity provides workers with the resources to participate meaningfully in public life. As the world knows all too well, however, too many people remain out of work. Two groups of workers deserve special attention. Among unemployed workers, those who have few or no skills have fewer and fewer opportunities to enter any work situation. Among those currently working, in either the formal or informal sector, the most vulnerable workers not only do not receive adequate remuneration, they also have little or no opportunity to acquire skills and to broaden their social and cultural horizons.
Owing to technological changes, job profiles have rapidly evolved and new skills are required. These two categories of workers are at risk of being definitively excluded from productive, appropriately remunerated and freely chosen employment. Reaffirming the right to this kind of employment implies making a choice – that of building a world in which all men and women can «contribute to the well-being of their families, their communities and humankind» (Paragraph 9 of the Copenhagen Declaration). To this end, important tools must now be deployed in several domains.
a. Ensuring decent livelihood and training opportunities for very poor workers
Employment policies should be developed together with training policies in order to offer very poor workers the opportunities that would allow them to secure a decent livelihood as well as to expand their knowledge and abilities in areas that prepare them for the modern labour market. If they work part-time, other forms of income for training should supplement income from work.
The challenges behind this ambition are enormous. How, for example, can the funding necessary to finance these workers, including jobless workers, be secured so that they can have access to sufficient income while benefiting from training schemes? Which training schemes should be developed, and under whose responsibility, so that the situation of these workers is taken into account and so that they gain new skills and knowledge?
Broadening access to decent livelihood and training opportunities for modern work to very poor workers, male and female alike, is an ambition that cannot be shouldered by Governments alone. The business sector, trade-unions and civil society must join such efforts.
At the national level, Governments should take a leading role by launching pilot initiatives or supporting existing ones in view of these objectives. They should also encourage the creation of enterprises that implement, in a sustainable way, the objectives described above. Governments should also draw lessons from existing governmental or private initiatives launched in this vein. In this respect, experience already gained, such as that related in Part Two of this paper, could serve as a reference.
At the international level, the International Labour Office in particular should be entrusted with the tasks of drawing lessons from attempts that have been made in some countries to fulfil the above-stated ambition, and of making further proposals.
b. Transforming times of forced unemployed into times of human advancement
Considerable efforts are undertaken by Governments, by the business sector and by social partners to offer all workers the training necessary to acquire skills adapted to a labour market in constant evolution. Nevertheless, the mere fact that every year an additional 43 million people enter the labour market – 118,000 persons per day – raises the question of what will happen to those workers during periods of unemployment between one job and another. The so-called «lifetime job» is disappearing. All workers will at some time face the challenge of transition between two work situations. In this respect, the experiences and the thoughts of the poorest workers can give us a fresh perspective on the question of transition times between unemployment and employment.
For the workers with the least skills and education, more often than not, times of unemployment stretch into times of waiting, of wasting time, of deadened time. The longer such times last, the more severely they affect the possibility of re-entering the labour market. This is why time spent out of work must absolutely be thought of in a different light. Instead of expending all one’s energies for survival, workers should have the security of a decent income to live on. This security in turn provides the means for all people to freely exercise cultural, social, civic, political, trade unionist or other types of activities. Security is necessary for the poorest not only to improve their skills in fields of their choice, but also to be part of cultural enrichment, thus preparing themselves for inventing completely new areas of activity, as discussed in Part Two.
The International Labour Office has concrete data on systems of social protection and on unemployment benefits throughout the world, and provides technical support to countries in the process of installing or modernising such systems. Thus, the ILO would be the appropriate agency to explore the transformation of unemployment times into times of transition towards employment.
c. Redefining transition times between different human activities
In addition to reconsidering transition times between unemployment and employment, there is another challenge. Society needs to rethink the connections and the transitions in everyone’s life among the varied forms of human activity – not only employment and unemployment, but also education and employment; training and employment; civic participation and employment; trade unions, cultural activities, political life, voluntary work, and employment, and so on.
Rethinking these connections requires a two-fold proposal.
On the one hand, the poorest should be offered opportunities to use for personal advancement any time spent out of productive employment. On the other hand, those who are productively employed should accept – and be encouraged and supported – to leave their job situation for some time in order to go and share their skills and know-how with very poor populations, as do the United Nations Volunteers. Such commitments could take various forms, from a few hours to one or more «sabbatical years.» A number of projects in different countries have attempted to support this kind of commitment. There are projects initiated by private businesses, for example the program «One Hundred Hours» run by Marks and Spencer U.K. and its subsidiaries, whereby the company released 100 working hours (to be spread over a few hours each week) to its staff so that they can join non-profit organisations in disadvantaged areas in order to share their expertise. Other initiatives relate to civil servants who can be supported in offering their services to a non-governmental organisation. A review of existing experiences would shed light on how to give a wider framework of support to such practices. The International Year of Volunteers, 2001, could be an ideal time to start such a review.
The efforts of the Secretary General of the United Nations toward building a new partnership between businesses and the United Nations, and in particular the co-operation established between the United Nations and the International Chambers of Commerce, can find in this proposal appropriate ground for developing new initiatives.
Eradication of poverty
a. Partnership with the poorest in designing comprehensive national policies for eradicating poverty
As Governments progress in formulating national policies and strategies for poverty eradication and social development, as per the Copenhagen commitments, they should focus sharply on gathering the experience and views of their poorest citizens and taking them into account. The United Nations could also survey the expertise of different grass-roots actors in civil society in order to furnish technical support for these national policies.
The Copenhagen Summit emphasised involving people who live in poverty and their organisations in the design, implementation, monitoring and assessment of national strategies and programmes for overcoming poverty. To ensure that they can contribute to the elaboration of national plans, partnership with the poorest is essential. The steps of this process are highlighted in Part One of this paper (discovering hidden realities, basing projects on the aspirations of the poorest, strengthening the family unit, building on existing solidarity, acquiring in-depth knowledge and understanding of the poorest, and fostering together a common culture). The conditions necessary for this partnership, as shown by experience, are also outlined in Part One – investing the necessary time, trust and confidence, commitment to common goals, mutual training, consensus building and broad-based participation.
At a minimum, Governments should initiate the process by including in their national plans for social development a programme for working with all citizens, including the poorest, to elaborate a more specific plan for overcoming poverty.
Mention should be made here of national initiatives for eradicating poverty that have in fact been designed through a process of partnership with all concerned, including the very poor themselves. One example is the Law Against Social Exclusion adopted in France in 1998, as detailed in Part Two of this paper. Another example comes from South Africa, where Poverty Hearings and other initiatives led to a National Poverty Forum working on the adoption of the National Programme of Action to Eradicate Poverty, in implementing commitments made at the Copenhagen Summit. This Programme of Action is not limited to government departments; it also includes plans for poverty alleviation and eradication by NGOs, the business sector and educational and religious institutions.
b. Implementing the recommendations made at regional and international levels
Since Copenhagen, initiatives have been undertaken and proposals made at regional and international levels to anchor the necessity of building schemes against poverty. The statement of commitment to action to eradicate poverty, issued in June 1998 by the executive heads of all UN agencies (the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination), well sums up this emphasis when it reaffirms that «poverty eradication is a key international commitment and a central objective of the United Nations system.»
Procedures to monitor the follow-up of these proposals have been set up and, in this respect, the Commission for Social Development of the United Nations plays an active and central role.
Still, the issue of working in partnership with the poorest to craft programmes for fighting poverty has not been fully undertaken. It is relevant to recall the proposal made in the Final Report on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/13) adopted by the UN Commission on Human Rights. The report outlines that (paragraph 220), whereas for the commitment on employment the Copenhagen Summit foresees an appropriate machinery, i.e. the ILO, no such a provision exists for the commitments on social integration and eradication of poverty. This report suggests that the High Commissioner for Human Rights should be given a leading role, because the implementation of coherent policies for overcoming extreme poverty is intimately linked with the holistic approach towards the realisation of all human rights.
It is necessary to empower an appropriate UN body for furthering the initiatives that will come out of the Special Session of the General Assembly on the implementation of the Copenhagen commitments. The designation of such leadership within the United Nations system could also facilitate this gathering of expertise from different grassroots actors in civil society, in order to furnish technical support for the national comprehensive policies for eradicating poverty.
A specific mandate should be given to the High Commissioner for Human Rights in this framework, given the inextricable link between human rights and overcoming poverty.
c. A Convention for Overcoming Human Poverty
On the basis of these national and international efforts, a working group should be set up to study the feasibility of a legally binding Convention on Overcoming Human Poverty, crafted in partnership with the people who live in deep poverty and with those committed alongside them. This idea of preparing a legally binding convention on the eradication of poverty has been brought forward by ILO Director-General Juan Somavia, in order to follow through on the political commitments made at the World Summit for Social Development.
This convention should not define new rights for specific groups but rather promote a coherent, dynamic and forward-looking approach to recognise the human dignity of every human being and to ensure that all persons be able to exercise their human rights. The world’s most disadvantaged citizens, who have shown us that human rights are indivisible, have a key role to play in shaping this convention as a tool to further the creation of national frameworks for an overall and coherent approach toward all human rights, be they civil or political, economic, social or cultural.
Grinding poverty can be found in every country. The convention should therefore address itself to all nations, regardless of their political, economic, social or cultural situation. The convention should also encourage all countries to share their experience and knowledge as partners in fighting poverty. The experience at the grassroots level among individuals and communities outlined in Parts One and Two of this paper should inspire co-operation and solidarity between all nations to achieve the common goal of overcoming human poverty. Countries in particularly difficult situations, if they so desire, should be given access to facilities in order to be supported in the most appropriate way. Among other partners, the very poor must be associated with this work, through non-governmental organisations and other organisations of civil society that they have chosen to represent them.
When the nations of the world grew more aware of and sensitive to specific conditions violating the rights of children, the United Nations was able to adopt the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Conventions on the Elimination of the All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, also became tools for broadening access to justice for all. As the international community grows increasingly more sensitive to the situation of the very poorest individuals, families and communities, it deserves a tool worthy of enabling them to exercise all their fundamental rights and to assume their responsibilities.
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The International Movement ATD Fourth World is an international non-governmental organisation that engages individuals and institutions in support of the efforts of the very poor to free themselves from destitution. ATD Fourth World is concerned with the well-being of all people, and of society as a whole.
ATD Fourth World:
- was founded in 1957 by Fr. Joseph Wresinski, whose family had suffered from great poverty. Today ATD Fourth World has branches in 26 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas, as well as correspondents in more than 100 countries through its network, «the Permanent Forum on Extreme Poverty in the World.»
- is not affiliated with any political party or religion. The ideal that unites its members is that of ensuring respect for each person’s human dignity. ATD Fourth World’s financial resources come mostly from private sources – such as donations and membership pledges, sales of publications, grants from foundations – and partly from public funding, both governmental and intergovernmental. ATD Fourth World’s greatest resource is the time and creativity donated by its members.
- works at the grass-roots level with persons and communities in very destitute and remote areas, both urban and rural. It runs multi-faceted projects developed in partnership with these persons and communities. These projects vary from training and creating employment, to fostering artistic creation, education, social participation, good health and protection of the environment.
- reaches out to public opinion through newsletters and various publications, seminars and conferences. When possible, ATD Fourth World collaborates with public administrations and legislative bodies. It networks with other NGOs. ATD Fourth World’s Institute for Research and Training conducts surveys and studies, and publishes a quarterly review.
To carry out its responsibilities, ATD Fourth World relies on people of all ages, from different social and cultural backgrounds and different professions. Some of them dedicate all or part of their lives alongside the very poor; others make a commitment in their own social, professional or cultural milieu. They strive to improve mutual understanding between the most excluded and the rest of society and to promote new commitments towards a more just and equitable society. ATD Fourth World has general consultative status with ECOSOC. It also holds consultative status with UNICEF, UNESCO, the ILO and the Council of Europe. It has a permanent delegation to the European Union.
- According to ILO figures, 1994
- The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development Bulletin, UNRISD No.20, Spring/Summer 1999.