Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Poverty unquestionably detracts from the human rights mission. Modern human rights law recognizes a broad range of rights - for example, "to life, liberty, and security of person" and to adequate "food, clothing, and medical care."1 Any number of those rights might go unrealized in conditions of extreme poverty. However, human rights law has always been partly aspirational. For those seeking to improve the lives of the poor, the key question is not what rights exist but how to make those rights operational. What does human rights law actually require of states? And how might its obligations benefit the poor?