Billions of women, men and children face levels of deprivation that undermine the right to live with dignity. Hunger, homelessness and preventable disease are not inevitable social problems or simply the result of natural disasters they are a human rights scandal. Even in rich countries, there are people who do not have access to education, health care and housing. Governments often blame a lack of resources, but, in fact, many people face systematic discrimination, while those on the margins of society are often overlooked altogether.
The international community has stood by while individual governments have ignored the human rights of millions of people. International financial institutions have imposed conditions on countries that have led to reduced access to education and health care for people living in poverty.
Elsewhere, those large-scale development projects devoid of any regard for human rights have resulted in widespread homelessness. In many countries, governments do not regulate corporations to ensure that they meet their human rights responsibilities. They allow pollution of the environment and extreme exploitation to continue unchecked.
Violations of economic, social and cultural rights are not a matter of inadequate resources; they are a matter of justice. All human rights are inter-linked and the denial of one leads to denial of others where there is no freedom of expression, for example, there is no right to education.
People’s action around the world has lead to great gains in making economic, social and cultural rights a reality, but much more needs to be done so that everyone has the right to live in dignity.
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