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Poverty And Social Exclusion

Poverty and social exclusion continue to pose major challenges to governments across the world. As has been noted in the context of poverty, it is a global phenomenon which affects all states to different extents and is not confined to the developing world. Both conditions relate to the denial of or absence of resources, opportunities, or rights, which affects participation in society on equal terms with others, with at times, affected persons being in a situation where even basic needs for survival are denied or cannot be accessed.

When the policy makers and social planners talk about problems and challenges like poverty, inequality, marginalization and social exclusion, traditional communities, the verb "to own" can be understood as:
"to recognize one's state of having full claim, authority, power, and dominion over a tangible or intangible object, and related to traditional knowledge this state implies a collective subject and culturally established rules that do not necessarily follow market criteria. We learned that owning traditional knowledge is a collective right of those who belong to a community, assuming a common social identity based on a shared and indivisible corpus of traditions.

The subject of access to justice is one of great contemporary importance. Justice system Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity. It is also the act of being just and/or fair. The words access to justice immediately stir up in our mind the idea that every person who seeks justice must be provided with the requisite monies to approach a Court of Justice. But, that is not the only meaning of these words.

They also refer to the nature of different rights, to the number of Courts, to the quality of justice, to the independence of the Judges who man the Courts, to legal aid and public interest litigation and so on.

Who does Poverty, Social Exclusions, Inequality, Community Justice Systems and effect human rights?

What is poverty?

Poverty is about not having enough money to meet basic needs including food, clothing and shelter. However, poverty is more, much more than just not having enough money. In addition to a lack of money, poverty is about not being able to participate in recreational activities; not being able to send children on a day trip with their schoolmates or to a birthday party; not being able to pay for medications for an illness.

These are all costs of being poor. Those people who are barely able to pay for food and shelter simply can't consider these other expenses. When people are excluded within a society, when they are not well educated and when they have a higher incidence of illness, there are negative consequences for society. We all pay the price for poverty. The increased cost on the health system, the justice system and other systems that provide supports to those living in poverty has an impact on our economy.

Poverty has many faces, changing from place to place and across time, and has been described in many ways. Most often, poverty is a situation people want to escape. So poverty is a call to action -- for the poor and the wealthy alike -- a call to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, adequate shelter, access to education and health, protection from violence, and a voice in what happens in their communities."

What is social exclusion?

Social exclusion is a form of discrimination. It occurs when people are wholly or partially excluded from participating in the economic, social and political life of their community, based on their belonging to a certain social class, category or group. In India, social exclusion occurs on the basis of identities including caste, ethnicity, religion, gender and disability.

Social exclusion as a concept has three distinguishable features:

  1. It involves culturally-defined social categories, with associated cultural perceptions, values and norms that shape social interaction.
  2. It is embedded in social relations.
  3. It affects people's rights and entitlements, denying them the opportunities they need to attain and maintain a universally acceptable standard of living and to fulfill their potential.

Social Exclusion and Poverty

As social exclusion is concerned with, though not restricted to, deprivation of material resources, and violations of social or welfare rights, it can also be seen as relating to the phenomenon of poverty. Social exclusion has an undeniable impact on the poverty status of socially excluded communities. Human Rights, extreme poverty can be a cause of human rights violations, such as extremely poor people being forced to work in unhealthy working conditions, or a consequence, such as children being unable to escape poverty because of lack of adequate state provisions for education.

Those who belong to socially excluded groups are not affected by a lack of resources 'just like' the rest of the poor. They face particular discrimination in gaining access to these resources. For example, there may be a clean water pump in a village but those who are socially excluded may not be allowed access to it. Because social exclusion locks people out of the benefits of development, denying them opportunities, choices and a voice to claim their rights, it causes greater levels of poverty.

The relationship between poverty and social exclusion is a reciprocal one. Poverty is seen as a result of social exclusion or exclusion as a vulnerability factor leading to poverty, while poverty in turn may result in or create vulnerability to social exclusion. For instance, a DFID paper points out that social exclusion denies people the same rights and opportunities as afforded to others in their society, and that it causes poverty of particular people leading to higher rates of poverty among affected groups, besides "increasing the level of economic inequality in society, which reduces the poverty reducing impact of a given growth rate".

What Is Community Justice?

Community justice is known by different names, including restorative justice, balanced and restorative justice and restorative community justice. It is an alternative way to look at the criminal justice system. Crime is viewed as an offense against the community, which includes the victim and the offender, rather than against the state. Community justice focuses on repairing the harm to victims, communities, and offenders that occurs when a crime is committed.

Community justice practices reduce future crime, thereby increasing community safety and decreasing the number of cases processed by our overburdened justice system. This article examines the role of the community in preventing crime and promoting justice. Community justice broadly refers to all variants of crime prevention and justice activities that explicitly include the community in their processes. Community justice is rooted in the actions that citizens, community organizations, and the criminal justice system can take to control crime and social disorder. Community justice aims to restore victims and repair communities affected by crime.

The primary focus of community justice programs is on outcomes that are directly related to the community. Community justice has several goals, including but not limited to: Changing the relationship between law enforcement and citizens changing citizens' perception of law enforcement shifting the focus to the common good of all involved Demonstrating genuine concern for crime victims repairing the harm done by crime preventing crime.

Human Right

A human rights-based approach to poverty reduction forms part of the recommendations of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. They highlight that a human rights-based approach to poverty reduction inter alia, provides a deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty; broadens the scope of poverty reduction strategies to address the structures of discrimination that generate and deepen poverty; strengthens civil and political rights as they can play an instrumental role in addressing the cause of poverty; and confirms that economic and social rights are binding obligations, not just programmatic aspirations.

This approach is dynamic, leaving scope for "tailoring it to a specified context" it is important to take note of the fact that enjoyment of one right is indivisibly linked to others, for instance the right to health is linked to basic needs such as food and water, as well as a clean environment, as also to information and education, and in turn impacts the right to livelihood and other rights. The role of a human rights-based approach can be important in this regard as it:
"works from the position that international human rights standards place an obligation and duty on governments to ensure that their plans, policies and processes promote these rights", and is based on principles of legitimacy, accountability and transparency, empowerment, and equality, non-discrimination and attention to vulnerable groups.

The aspect of binding obligations that a human rights framework imposes also finds mention in the report of the independent expert on extreme poverty and human rights, who observes that
there is a significant value added to invoking a human rights framework in policies to eradicate poverty as basic human rights are seen as valuable objectives that all human beings are entitled to; and as one, considering poverty as a violation of human rights can mobilize public action, which could significantly contribute to the adoption of appropriate policies; and two, being binding obligations, governments would have to demonstrate that they have made their best efforts towards adopting appropriate policies. Human rights are not panaceas...But for some cases and situations legal means of struggle might well be the most appropriate. International human rights norms are both a source of inspiration and an instrument for the eradication of extreme poverty.

Human rights framework can play an important role in tackling the issues of social exclusion and poverty, particularly in view of the very concept of human rights, their value, and their binding nature. Civil and political rights have been sought to be protected at international levels (through, for instance the ICCPR which provides monitoring mechanisms as well as an individual complaints mechanism in an optional protocol), and at domestic levels with the constitutional frameworks of most countries providing for various civil and political rights with remedies through the judiciary often being provided in the constitutions themselves economic and social rights, have been argued to be non-justiciable (though this has been refuted by many), and have been treated as secondary to civil and political rights at international as well as national levels for long which has led to their being insufficiently protected and treated as aspirations or goals rather than rights.

Written By:
  1. Anamika Yadav (B.A.LL.B) 2nd Year (Dr. Hari Singh Gour Vishwavidyalaya).
  2. Akhil Shrivastava (B.A.LL.B) 4th Year (Dr. Hari Singh Gour Vishwavidyalaya).

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