SUMMARY OF THE OBJECTIVES OF THE CONFERENCE:
• Analyze the current situation and identify problems / obstacles to the fight against poverty and inequalities (limits of legal and democratic mechanisms to ensure the voices of people living in poverty is taken into account, changes in redistribution policies, etc.) ;
• Formulate concrete proposals to progress in the fight against poverty, taking into account the need to include the voice of each person, to better utilize and share resources in order to avoid waste and ensure more equal access to them, in a perspective of well-being for all;
• Exchange and share experiences, knowledge and practices to implement innovative actions to fight against poverty and inequalities, based on the concepts of common goods, shared responsibility and avoiding the waste resources.
Poverty, precarity and inequality are on the rise in all European countries and have been reinforced by the crisis. These phenomena not only weaken the Social Cohesion of European societies but they also violate human rights, including social as well as civil and political rights, and question the functioning of democracy. How can people living in poverty make their voices heard in polarised societies, where more than 40% of assets and 25% of revenues are held by 10% of the population?
To be effective, the fight against poverty cannot be limited to targeted and conditionalised measures. It must take into account the relationships and interdependencies existing in society in order to facilitate the sharing of social responsibilities and ensure equal access to material and immaterial resources. This implies to encourage the sharing of resources and common goods, whilst avoiding waste. To foster the discussion in this direction and release the basis for a renewed strategy to fight poverty, the Council of Europe is organizing, in partnership with the European Commission, on 21-22 February 2013 in Strasbourg the Conference“Poverty and Inequality in Societies of Human Rights: the paradox of democracies – Proposals for an Inclusive Society”.
The conference is the culmination of two years of reflection conducted in the framework of the Project “Human Rights of people experiencing poverty.” The results of this work will be developed in two publications of the Council of Europe : a guide that will be the basis for the conference Living in dignity in the XXIst century: poverty and inequality, paradoxes in societies of Rights and Democracy? ; and the number 25 of the series Trends in Social Cohesion that will focus on Poverty, analyzed from the perspective of Human Rights, Democracy and Common Goods. The guide provides a critical review of the current situation, analyzing inequality and poverty through the prism of human rights, democracy and redistributive policies. It also explores paths for a renewed strategy to fight poverty based on common goods and the sharing of social responsibilities.
The two-day conference intends to discuss the issues mentioned above with participants from different backgrounds, bringing together institutional actors, researchers, activists, associations, and networks, as well as people living in poverty and precariousness and other citizens involved in the themes raised by the Conference. The first day of the discussion will be devoted to the analysis of the current situation in terms of poverty, inequalities and precarisation of living conditions. The workshops will deepen the links between poverty and human rights, democracy, and to reflect on the consequences of the crisis. During the second day, the plenary sessions and workshops will seek to identify new ways to fight poverty and inequalities that take into account the sharing of social responsibilities by promoting equal access to and sharing of resources, and avoiding waste.A third (extra)day will be dedicated to the elaboration of concrete actions to fight poverty and inequalities at the local level.