UN Poverty Envoy Visits Ghana

Prof Philip Alston

Prof Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, is in Ghana on a 10-day human rights fact-finding visit to assess government efforts to eradicate poverty.

Professor Alston, who would be in country from 9-20 March, would meet government officials and civil society, and would visit regions and districts with high poverty rates, particularly in the north.

His meeting with government officials will be at the national and local level.

He is also expected to meet with individuals living in poverty to hear about their experiences, talk with civil society organizations working on poverty and human rights and receive briefings from academic experts.

“Ghana finds itself at an important crossroads, as it seeks to maintain impressive levels of economic growth while also addressing widespread poverty,” the human rights expert said.

“High levels of inequality threaten to undermine this growth, as well as the rights of the poor.”

“There is no question about the challenges posed by the existence of extreme poverty in Ghana. I will be seeking to better understand the role played by human rights obligations in this context, how the poor experience rights violations in Ghana, and how a human rights framework might provide guidance on economic sustainability and poverty alleviation measures,” explained Professor Alston.

“Ghana has demonstrated an impressive commitment to human rights at the international level and my visit will be designed to explore how this plays out at the national level, including through meaningful engagement with regional human rights mechanisms.”

Some of the topics that the Special Rapporteur will address during his visit are the protection of the human rights of the poor in both rural and urban settings, accessibility of social protection programmes and the level of participation by people living in poverty in decisions affecting them.

The expert will also look at how the criminal justice system interacts with persons living in poverty, and how it treats, particularly vulnerable and marginalized groups.

The Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary observations and recommendations at a press conference to be held at the end of his mission on Wednesday, 18 April 2018 at the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).

The Special Rapporteur’s final report on his visit to Ghana will be presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2019.