Donald Lee: Message on October 17, 2022

Above: Donald Lee speaking at the UN on October 17, 2022

Every year on October 17, the United Nations in New York city holds a ceremony to mark the day that it has recognized as International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.  This year, Donald Lee, President of ATD Fourth World International, addressed the gathering with this message.

Coming together

Since 1992 we have come together on October 17 without fail to mark this special event at the United Nations. Even at the height of the COVID pandemic, when we could not gather in person, we found innovative ways to come together virtually.

One important feature of all these commemorations has remained constant. Every year since 1992, we have created a safe space here at the United Nations which respects and safeguards the dignity of everyone.   In this safe space, people with lived experience of poverty have been able to share their very personal testimonies about their fight against poverty.  Their courage in sharing their lived experiences over the last 30 years has inspired us to recommit to efforts to overcome poverty everywhere.

Dignity for all in practice

The theme Dignity for all in practice for the October 17 observance this year reminds us that all people have the right to be treated with dignity — that, as human beings, we are entitled to respect and recognition from one another.

Sadly, despite the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, millions of people today, especially people living in poverty, still suffer unacceptable indignities and human rights violations in their daily lives.

Their human dignity is denied and violated when they are forced to live in poverty, when they must endure deprivations in so many aspects of their lives, and when they suffer social exclusion, discrimination, stigmatization, and shame.

Our broken economic and social systems have created and perpetuated poverty, social division, and obscene inequalities in a world of plenty, and we have incentivized the wanton exploitation of our fragile planet to the point of climate and environmental disaster.  We can, and must, do better to eradicate poverty, create lasting peace, and learn to live in harmony with our planet.

Together we can ensure there is dignity for all in practice.

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