Mapping Destitution into the Sphere of Human Rights: Laying the Foundations for a Human Rights-Based Definition of Destitution

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Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Annual Conference (2020) (Leeds Univeristy, U.K.)

Destitution is seldom addressed at a policy level nor from a human rights perspective. Consequently, the nexus between destitution and the denial of economic, social and cultural rights remains unrecognised within academia and policy and practice. This is despite the explicit link between destitution and the lack of enjoyment of several fundamental social and economic rights.

Theoretically, and logically, a human rights-based definition of destitution must contain two twin elements; the component rights and the level of realisation of these component rights below which destitution exists (the destitution threshold). In order to ensure that the determination of these twin elements correlates to, and accurately captures, the experience of destitution, this paper will ground the concept of destitution within the sphere of human rights.

This will be achieved through extrapolating key aspects of the destitution experience, the destitution themes, from existing conceptions, understandings, and definitions of destitution. The intersection between related concepts of extreme poverty, survival and subsistence will be examined with a view to using a human rights-based framework to differentiate poverty from extreme poverty. Subsequently these concepts will be utilised as a tool by which to place the experience of, and thus ground, destitution within the sphere of human rights.

The central contention is that the concept of ‘basic rights to basic needs’ grounds destitution within human rights. As such the concept of basic rights informs the determination of the component rights and the destitution threshold.
Through grounding destitution into the sphere of human rights the aim is contribute to the creation of a human rights-based definition of destitution. This is with a view to furthering effective policy and law to tackle, and mobilise against, destitution whilst at the same time creating a stimulus for the implementation of fundamental social and economic rights at the domestic level.
PeriodApr 2019
Event typeConference
LocationLeeds, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational