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 28: Poverty, labour law and human rights: a necessary connection

Lee Swepston and Constance Thomas


There is an obvious connection between income generation and emergence from poverty, and the way in which this is promoted must respect human rights. Access to decent work in fair conditions and with just incomes is fundamental to the fight against poverty and social exclusion. These outcomes cannot be achieved without the intervention of adequate law. The rights related to work are developed most fully in international labour standards adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). These standards, on subjects including freedom of association, conditions of work, and protection from forced labour, child labour, and discrimination, are deeply embedded in international human rights. Measures to ensure access, respect and enforcement of these rights for all workers include access to justice, monitoring and supervision mechanisms, and vibrant workers’ organisations. Full application of labour law based on international standards is a necessary tool to ensure workers’ emergence from poverty.

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