Human Rights for Human Dignity

Across the world, 925 million people are undernourished. Every 90 seconds, a woman dies from complications of pregnancy or childbirth. One billion people live in slums.

This is not just an unfortunate reality of life. It is a human rights scandal of shocking proportions.

There is a responsibility to respond - a responsibility rooted not only in the demands of human decency, but also in legally binding international human rights obligations - as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other documents.

Human Rights for Human Dignity

Across the world, 925 million people are undernourished. Every 90 seconds, a woman dies from complications of pregnancy or childbirth. One billion people live in slums.

This is not just an unfortunate reality of life. It is a human rights scandal of shocking proportions.

There is a responsibility to respond - a responsibility rooted not only in the demands of human decency, but also in legally binding international human rights obligations - as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other documents.

Gross economic and social inequality is an enduring reality in countries of all political ideologies, and all levels of development. In the midst of plenty, many are still unable to access even minimum levels of food, water, education, health care and housing. This is not only the result of a lack of resources, but also unwillingness, negligence and discrimination by governments and others. Many groups are specifically targeted because of who they are; those on the margins of society are often overlooked altogether.

Human rights are indivisible - all rights are of equal value and cannot be separated. Violations of economic, social and cultural rights - such as failure to protect the land rights of indigenous peoples, denying minorities' education rights and inequitable provision of health care - are often linked with civil and political rights violations in patterns of denial. No human right can be realized in isolation from other rights.

In adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the international community recognized that human beings can only achieve freedom from fear and want, as well as freedom of speech and belief, if conditions are created whereby all people can enjoy all human rights.

Despite this commitment to the indivisibility of human rights, international attention has largely concentrated on certain violations of civil and political rights such as torture and ill-treatment, extrajudicial killings, "disappearances" and abuses of the right to fair trial.

In recent years Amnesty International has broadened its mission in recognition that there are many more prisoners of poverty than prisoners of conscience, and that millions endure the torture of hunger and slow death from preventable disease. Given the interconnected nature of all human rights violations, engaging with economic, social and cultural rights has enabled Amnesty International to address complex human rights problems in a more holistic and comprehensive manner.

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