Research Handbook on Human Rights and Poverty
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and Poverty

Edited by Martha F. Davis, Morten Kjaerum and Amanda Lyons

This important Research Handbook explores the nexus between human rights, poverty and inequality as a critical lens for understanding and addressing key challenges of the coming decades, including the objectives set out in the Sustainable Development Goals. The Research Handbook starts from the premise that poverty is not solely an issue of minimum income and explores the profound ways that deprivation and distributive inequality of power and capability relate to economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.
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Chapter 4: Is economic inequality a violation of human rights?

Gillian MacNaughton


Over the past decade, scholars, activists and policy makers have been alarmed by extreme and growing economic inequalities. Research shows that these inequalities adversely impact myriad human rights, including the rights to health, personal security, nondiscrimination and political participation. While recognizing that greater economic equality is instrumentally important to reducing poverty and realizing human rights, this chapter asks whether there is a human right to economic equality per se? In response, the chapter examines the International Bill of Human Rights. Drawing on rules for interpretation of international law, as well as US constitutional law - the source of the right to equal protection - the chapter concludes that the right to equal protection in international human rights law must encompass, not just rights to civil and political equality, but also rights to economic and social equality. It then presents an initial research agenda to discover a human rights approach to economic inequalities.

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