Thursday, October 30, 2008

Law and poverty: the legal system and poverty reduction

Cause and effect: exploring the relations between law and poverty Authors: L. Williams; A. Kjönstad; P. Robson Publisher: Comparative Research Programme on Poverty , 2008
Full text of document
Poverty tends to be considered as an economic subject area rather than a legal one. And yet, a society’s distribution of income and opportunity is the outcome of its legal system which may encourage or fail to prevent various forms of marginalisation. Even when individuals are responsible for their poverty, modern notions of citizenship enshrined in national and international law entitle them to various forms of state protection. Under these circumstances, the law becomes an instrument for redistribution. Much of this work is still cutting-edge but a start was made at a workshop held in Onati, Spain in 1999 which aimed to explore the theme of “Law and Poverty”. The twelve papers presented at the workshop are now reproduced in a book brought out by the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP) of the International Social Science Council. The book is divided into four sections which look into:
>poverty as a legal construction
>the responsibility for alleviating poverty
>establishing legal entitlements
>legal initiatives to address poverty

The paper titles comprise of:
>the right to development as a basic human right
>cross-border reflections on poverty: lessons from the United States and Mexico
>poverty as a violation of human rights: the Pinochet case and the emergence of a new paradigm
>the politics of child support
>the state, laws and NGOs in Bangladesh
>exclusion and rights
>poverty and property – human rights and social security
>the effect of legal mechanisms on selective welfare strategies for needy persons: the Greek experience
>gender mainstreaming as an instrument for combating poverty
>does alcohol and tobacco legislation help reduce poverty: the evidence from Sri Lanka
>child labour: a threat to the survival of civilization
>labour organization and labour relations law in India: implications for poverty alleviation
The book comes to the following broad conclusions:
>improved understandings of and approaches to poverty require broad analysis that takes into account different angles, frameworks and lenses
>while poverty is culture and nation-specific, it also has an increasingly important global >dimension which needs to start being taken into account
>support initiatives for poor people are more powerful when framed as citizenship rights – >particularly in the context of social exclusion and gender inequality
>more effective poverty reduction in an age of globalisation requires reconsidering traditional >distinctions between public and private areas of responsibility