European Parliament resolution on the United Nations World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty

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Minutes of 04/10/2001 - Provisional Edition

Human rights: United Nations World Day to overcome extreme poverty
B5-0616, 0619, 0627, 0635, 0644 and 0654/2001
European Parliament resolution on the United Nations World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty

The European Parliament,

  • having regard to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 47/197 of 22 December 1992 declaring 17 October as World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty,
  • having regard to the targets for tackling poverty and disease set at the United Nations Millennium celebration in September 2000 in New York,
  • having regard to Articles 1, 14, 15, 34 and 35 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,
  • having regard to the conclusions of the European Council meetings in Lisbon, Nice and Göteborg in respect of social exclusion,
  • having regard to its resolution of 23 October 1996 on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty [1],
  • having regard to the fact that the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty was created on 17 October 1987 by Father Joseph Wresinksi, founder of the ATD Fourth World Movement,

A. whereas extreme poverty constitutes a violation of human rights and an unacceptable assault on human dignity,
B. whereas combating extreme poverty is a vital factor in world peace and sustainable development and it must be given its full place in Community policy,
C. whereas extreme poverty affects hundreds of thousands of men, women and children throughout the world, and over a billion people live on less than a dollar a day,
D. whereas in the European Union 65 million people live on less than 60% of the median national income, with substantial variations between the Member States,
E. whereas there is a need for better understanding of the interdependence between economic, social, environmental, cultural and educational policies,
F. whereas extreme poverty has to be tackled by promoting solidarity between all citizens and in the North-South dialogue,
G. having regard to the recent agreement by the Council and European Parliament on the Community action programme to encourage cooperation between Member States to combat social exclusion, which aims at improving understanding and organising mutual learning within the context of Member States" national action plans to combat poverty and social exclusion,
H. whereas the European Council committed itself at the Göteborg European Council to achieving concrete progress towards reaching the UN target for official development assistance of 0.7% before the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002,

1. Calls on the whole European Union to formally recognise 17 October as European Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty;
2. Calls on the European institutions to speak out clearly in favour of a partnership with associations that tackle extreme poverty, and to give social policies equal priority with economic policies;
3. Requests the Council and Commission to present concrete proposals, before the UN World Conference on Financing for Development in March 2002, on how the European Union intends to reach the 0.7% target for development assistance;
4. Calls on the Commission, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, and its Committee on Employment and Social Affairs to make a public assessment, every 17 October, of Community policies on combating extreme poverty and social exclusion, carried out in cooperation with social players, especially those who speak on behalf of the very poor;
5. Calls on the Member States and candidate countries to join such an initiative at local, regional and national levels;
6. Welcomes the Belgian Presidency’s initiative of organising a joint meeting at the European Parliament on 17 October 2001, between the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission, in the form of an extraordinary meeting of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, to present and discuss the Commission’s report on social inclusion, in the presence of NGOs, the Committee on Social Protection and representatives of the Member States;
7. Calls on the Member States to develop workable strategies, including exchange of best practice, to ensure equal access to all fundamental rights such as education, housing and health care and to culture and sustainable employment, as part of their national plan for social inclusion, and to give priority to the most vulnerable;
8. Calls on the Commission to draw up a report on the economic, social and human costs of poverty and social exclusion in cooperation with the Member States, the trade union organisations, and associations that work against poverty;
9. Believes that the new information and communication technologies can contribute to reducing social exclusion; therefore considers it essential to encourage access to the information society for all;
10. Mindful that the European Council in Nice approved the objectives of combating poverty and social exclusion adopted by the Council and that the Member States presented their national action plans covering a two-year period in June 2001; calls on the Council - in accordance with the mandate given by the European Council meeting in Stockholm - to improve monitoring of action in this field by agreeing on indicators for combating social exclusion by the end of the year;
11. Calls for a stone to commemorate the victims of extreme poverty to be placed in the area in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, similar to the stones at the Trocadero in Paris, the Council of Europe in trasbourg, the Reichstag in Berlin, the basilica of St John Lateran in Rome, and the United Nations in New York;
12. Calls on the European institutions to clearly show their support for a close partnership with the associations working to combat poverty and social exclusion; 13. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the national parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Platform of European Social NGOs, the European Anti-Poverty Network, and the secretariats of the ILO, the UNLDC, the ACP, Unicef, Unctad and the PAM.

[1] OJ C 347, 18.11.1996, p. 87.


Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated.
To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.

Joseph Wresinski

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