Theme: “Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive societies”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the declaration by the General Assembly, in its resolution 47/196 of 22 December 1992, of 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Call to Action by Father Joseph Wresinski—which inspired the observance of October 17 as the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty—and the recognition by the United Nations of the day as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
The Call to Action of October 17 that was launched thirty years ago is recorded in the text on the Commemorative Stone at the Trocadero Human Rights Plaza in Paris which was unveiled in the presence of 100,000 people: On the 17th of October 1987, defenders of human and civil rights from every continent gathered on this plaza. They paid homage to the victims of hunger, ignorance and violence. They affirmed their conviction that human misery is not inevitable. They pledged their solidarity with all people who, throughout the world, strive to eradicate extreme poverty.
“Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.”
Father Joseph Wresinski
The theme for this year’s commemoration reminds us of the importance of the values of dignity, solidarity and voice underscored in the Call to Action to fight to end poverty everywhere. These values are also evident in the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development which sets poverty eradication as the overarching objective and obligated all countries to end poverty in all forms, through strategies that guarantee the fulfilment of all human rights and ensure no one is left behind. The importance of public awareness, voice and the active participation of people living in extreme poverty is recognized both in the Agenda itself and in the process of consultations led by the United Nations that ensured the concerns and priorities of millions of people, especially those living in extreme poverty, were included and heard. The active participation of those living in extreme poverty will be critical to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals.
This year’s event is organized in partnership with the International Movement ATD Fourth World, the NGO Committee for Social Development and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, supported by the Missions of France and Burkina Faso to the United Nations.
In addition to the Commemoration in New York, celebrations of this International Day are being organized worldwide. Through resolution A/RES/47/196 adopted on 22 December 1992, the General Assembly invited all States to devote the Day to presenting and promoting concrete activities with regard to the eradication of poverty and destitution.
HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR OCTOBER 17 Including “Message for the World Day for Overcoming Poverty & the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 17th October 2017”
Thirty years ago, on October 17, 1987, Father Joseph Wresinski launched his historic Call to Action against extreme poverty at the Trocadero Human Rights Plaza in Paris with his declaration that “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated.” This powerful message was ground-breaking because it asserted, for the ﬁrst time, that poverty is not only about adequate income or meeting basic needs, but, more importantly, is also about being able to live a life in dignity and to enjoy basic human rights and freedoms. Joseph Wresinski believed, and demonstrated through his work with poor communities, that the way to break the vicious cycle of extreme poverty was to support people in their ﬁght for their human rights.
Today, the inﬂuence of his vision is self-evident in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and the implementation of the rights-based approach to poverty eradication and development as a central plank of the United Nations’ development strategy. Every year, since the Call to Action in 1987, people from all walks of life around the world have come together on October 17 to observe the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty as an occasion to renew their commitment to answer the Call to Action and to pledge their solidarity with all people who strive to eradicate extreme poverty. This people-driven observance of a universal day for the eradication of poverty was recognized at the highest level when, in 1992, the United Nations declared October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
Since then, the joint observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty, has actively promoted dialogue and understanding between people living in poverty and their communities, and with society at large.
These observances have enabled people living in extreme poverty to break the silence of poverty and to act in solidarity with those who aspire to be their partners. The theme “Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive societies” that was selected to mark this auspicious year, reminds us that peace is the universal goal of all people, especially for people living in poverty who are forced to suﬀer the pain of exclusion, discrimination, injustice and violence.
It also reminds us that only a world free from poverty will provide the sustainable foundation for building peaceful and inclusive societies. It further reminds us of the importance of the values of dignity, solidarity and voice, underscored in the Call to Action, in the struggle to end poverty everywhere. These important values are embedded in the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 which recognizes that strategies to overcome extreme poverty must guarantee the fulﬁlment of all human rights and ensure that no one is left behind.
Agenda 2030 also recognizes the importance of mobilizing all stakeholders in the ﬁght against poverty and promoting the full and active participation of people living in extreme poverty. However, we must not be complacent because the successful implementation of the United Nations’ ambitious agenda depends not only on our active participation but also on our constant vigilance to ensure that world leaders live up to their commitments to end poverty in all its forms and to build peaceful societies.
So, I invite you to join us as we renew our commitment to answer the Call to Action* and to stand in solidarity with all people around the world who strive to eradicate extreme poverty.
Today, we renew our pledge that no one will be left behind.
Donald Lee President, International Committee for October 17