Professor Philip Alston - Podcast
According to Oxfam, just eight men on the planet control as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.6 billion people - the bottom half of the global population. Yet the World Bank says we are making great progress on reducing extreme poverty because the number of people living on less than US$1.25 per day has halved since 1990.
So what is going on here? Is the tide of wealth lifting all boats, even though luxury yachts rise faster than rowboats? Does inequality matter, practically and ethically, if most people are better off over all? Is the continued existence of extreme poverty a technical problem that can be solved by tweaking economic policies, or does it represent a more fundamental failure of moral imagination?
Perhaps we put too much emphasis on civil and political rights, like free speech and the right to vote, and devote too little attention to economic and social rights, such as the right to education, healthcare, housing and work?
If extreme poverty is a breach of human rights, then can we define the essential elements of a dignified life, and make this available to all?
Professor Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty & Human Rights, will help us work through these complex questions. Born & educated in Australia, Philip holds the John Norton Pomeroy Chair in Law at New York University and over the past 30 years he has served the United Nations in many high-level capacities, including as Special Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Millennium Development Goals & a Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions.
Listen to the Podcast here.