29 Jul

Fight Poverty, Not Immigrants: an ATD View from South of the US Border

Matt Davies is ATD Fourth World’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Carribbean. He has worked for ATD Fourth World for over 15 years, and is currently based in Mexico City. This article originally appeared on the blog Together In Dignity. You can learn more about our work in Latin America on the international website, and donate to support ATD teams there.

News of President Obama’s call for more federal funding to tackle the “humanitarian crisis” of child migrants has attracted a lot of media attention. The US Department of Homeland Security has apprehended 52,000 unaccompanied child migrants crossing the border since last October. What seems to have driven the recent increase in children attempting to cross into the United States is a recent spike in the effects of violence and gang activity, as well as the ever-present extreme poverty, in the countries of origin of the majority of the children: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

When you speak to people in Mexico and Central America, nearly everyone has a tale to tell about someone who has “gone north” to try and build a new and better life in the United States. They speak of a parent, an uncle, a sibling or their own child. The journey simply to make it to the border, let alone the crossing itself, is fraught with danger from traffickers, gangs and even the police. Films such as “Sin Nombre” (Without Name) or the recent “Jaula de Oro” (The Golden Dream), as well as documentaries dramatically depict what children and adults face who set out to travel north. But the promise of reaching their goal, as well as the misinformation put out by the criminal gangs that minors are allowed free passage across the border, has done nothing to quell the arrival of children at the border. Nor has news of those who do not make it across. A recent news story highlighted the tragic story of Gilberto Ramos, a 15 year old boy whose decomposed body was found in the Texan desert. He had left his Guatemalan village in order to try and make a better life for his family, particularly for his sick mother for whom the family could not afford medicines for her epilepsy condition.

The Obama administration is seeking to fast track the deportation of children back to Central American countries without carrying out hearings, a move which child rights groups have criticized as undermining children’s fundamental rights to be protected from violence. It is this physical violence, as well as the violence of extreme poverty they face in Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador, which must be addressed. When a teenager growing up in an informal settlement in Tegucigalpa is told you either join our gang or we will kill your brother, as young people have recounted to ATD Fourth World volunteers who run projects in their neighborhoods, it is easy to see why they may look to face the perils of traveling north as the lesser of two evils. When a young person in Guatemala City sees his or her parents and neighbors continuously humiliated by their employers or the authorities in their attempts to seek out a livelihood, as a recent report on dignified work by the ATD Fourth World team in Guatemala has shown, the humiliation they may face in journeying north is relative.

Unless efforts to tackle effectively extreme poverty, by the countries themselves, as well as through international aid, is made a priority, tragedies such as that of Gilberto Ramos, or those portrayed in the Jaula de Oro, will continue to befall too many young people in Central America.

24 Jul

The new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Political will was lacking to mainstream human rights throughout the document

The International Movement ATD Fourth World welcomes the latest set of sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations Open Working Group, but goals could better emphasize reaching the most marginalized and political will was lacking to mainstream human rights throughout the document.

The sustainable development goals are a historic agreement and are much more ambitious and comprehensive than the preceding Millennium Development Goals. The International Movement ATD Fourth World congratulates Ambassadors Macharia Kamau and Csaba Kőrösi in their expert co-chairing of this group and looks forward to the opportunity to further engage in the design and implementation of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

The document’s affirmation of the centrality of people in achieving sustainable development is to be applauded, as are the text’s references to rights instruments and internationally agreed human rights. International human rights instruments, like the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, written with the participation of people living in extreme poverty, provide solid guidance for countries seeking inclusive development.

“Unfortunately though,” said Quyen Tran, head of international advocacy at ATD Fourth World, “political will waslacking to mainstream human rights throughout the document. Almost all uses of the term ‘access to’ could be effectively replaced with’right to.’ This would have significantly enhanced the power of people to claim their rights. The absence of such language is perhaps the most important shortcoming of the Open Working Group’s document.”

With regards to poverty, “While the title of Goal 1, ‘End Poverty in all its forms everywhere,’ is ambitious,” said Isabelle PypaertPerrin, director general of ATD Fourth World, “target 1.2 – to reduce by at least half the proportion of men women and children ofall ages living in poverty according to national definitions – falls short. With no clear reference to prioritising those living in the greatest poverty, it could lead governments to target only those easiest to reach. This would contradict the principle of leave noone behind.”

Moreover, findings from ATD Fourth World’s recent international participatory research project on sustainable development, which included the voices of over 2,000 people worldwide, the majority living in poverty, indicate that it is critical to move towards multidimensional and participatory measures of poverty. Perrin continued, “This is reinforced by language like ‘in all its forms’ (in the goal title) and ‘in all its dimensions’ (target 1.2),both of which point toward measures that go beyond income. Unfortunately, however, the inadequate only income-based measure for extreme poverty has been further entrenched under target 1.1.”


After six days of heated intergovernmental negotiations that stretched into Saturday afternoon of 19 July 2014, the outcome document containing a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was adopted by the Open Working Group mandated to work on this at the 2012 Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.

The document will now be sent to the UN General Assembly and at a later point, opened up to all Member States.

The Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) concluded its 13th session (14-19 July) after over one and a half years of discussions and negotiations.  The 11th hour of negotiations stretched through the night of 18July, finally leading to an adoption on Saturday afternoon.

The adopted text of the SDGs contains a set of 17 goals that span the three pillars of sustainable development, that of economic, social and environmental issue areas.  Each goal is accompanied by a set of targets and means of implementation (MOI).  One of goals is an MOI thematic goal divided into the structural areas of trade, finance, technology, capacity building, multi-stakeholder partnerships, and data, monitoring and accountability.

The other 16 goals, encompassing fundamental issues in economic, social and environmental policies, are as follows:

  •  (1) End poverty in all its forms everywhere;
  • (2) End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture;
  • (3) Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages;
  • (4) Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all;
  • (5) Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;
  • (6) Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all;
  • (7) Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all;
  • (8) Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all;
  • (9) Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation;
  • (10) Reduce inequality within and among countries;
  • (11) Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable;
  • (12) Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns;
  • (13) Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (with the following words preceding the targets: (acknowledging that the UNFCCC is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change);
  • (14) Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development;
  • (15) Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss;
  • (16) Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

The full text can be accessed at: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/focussdgs.html

The next step is for this text to be presented to the General Assembly in September, after which intergovernmental negotiations among all the countries in the United Nations will take place in the context of the Post-2015 development agenda, with the current text serving as the basis from which to work on.

The Post-2015 development agenda is the successor of the Millennium Development Goals, and will be the official global template informing international development policy, and to some extent national development planning.

Extract from the Third World Network newsletter from July 21st (www.twnnews.net)



23 Jul

Quality Education: ATD Burkina Faso’s Work Recognized

As part of our continuing work on the evaluation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 10 members of ATD Burkina Faso participated on July 10-11, 2014, in an international conference in Ouagadougou entitled, “How to ensure quality education for all.”


Hosted by Burkina’s Ministry of Education and two leading poverty research organizations, Jameel – Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IAP), the conference was an important recognition of the experience and proposals of ATD’s members in developing quality education strategies with people living in deep poverty for the benefit of all.

Read more…

19 Jul

2015 year of decision: Bono, Desmond Tutu, Malala Yousafzai, Graca Machel, Muhammed Yunus and Mo Ibrahim appeal to World Leaders

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18th July 2014

Dear World Leaders,

We write to sound a warning. A warning that 2015 will be a year of huge opportunity, but also of huge risk.

What is at stake here could not be greater, for it is not less than the future of our human family and the world upon which we all depend. Two global processes –the replacement of the current UN development framework and the conclusion of a new climate treaty – culminate within months of each other at the end of 2015. They require us to decide which future we want for people and planet. For there are two dramatically different futures we could live in by 2030.

Down one hopeful path we have built on progress, and learned how to eradicate extreme poverty, hunger, as well as put an end to preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths. In so doing, we will give everyone everywhere opportunity and the right to lead their lives with dignity without jeopardising our planet’s ability to provide for its people now and into thefuture. This is an entirely possible outcome if we do the right thing.
Down another path we have failed to build on progress, but have allowed the injustice of poverty, hunger and pandemics to spread. A growing insecurity caused by unequal access to increasingly scarce natural resources leads to tragic conflicts from which nobody –no elite, no matter how rich –can hide.

This is an entirely plausible outcome of a complacent business as usual approach to 2015. Which world do you want to live in by 2030? Which world it will be depends upon the decision you make in 2015, and the preparations we make for it now.

The good news is a global movement is coming together for 2015 and the future, inspired by the words of Nelson Mandela: “Like slavery, like apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man – made and itcan be overcome by the actions of human beings.”

Climate change too can and must be remedied by the actions of human beings.

This movement for people and planet will lead to accolades for those leaders who rise to this historic occasion. It will hold accountable those who fail to help secure a better safer world for all. It will speak up for the marginalised and disenfranchised, and demand justice for all.

Let’s leave no one behind as we look with confidence towards a future which we can make great, for you have been given an opportunity that will be the envy of history.

YoursMalala Yousafzai, Desmond Tutu, Graca Machel, Muhammed Yunus, Mo Ibrahim, Bono


17 Jul

Members of the Children’s Rights Alliance warmly congratulate Emily Logan


ATD, with all other members of the Children’s Rights Alliance, warmly congratulates Emily Logan on her appointment as Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “Emily Logan has done an outstanding job as Ireland’s first Ombudsman for Children and we commend her on her many achievements. She established the Office under the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002 and developed it into the highly-respected body that it is today. Through the independent investigation of public bodies, children and their advocates now have a place to go when their rights are violated and the Office has been instrumental in securing important change for vulnerable children and for strengthening children’s rights.”

Among Emily’s most important achievements, we will be remembered for her pioneering reports in relation to St. Patrick’s Institution, on separated children and, most recently, for her hard-hitting special inquiry into the removal of two Roma children from their families. She has also made critical impacts in areas including child homelessness, children in care, child protection, disabilities and in the sphere of education. And we commend her on fulfilling her role as a strong, independent voice for children during the state reporting process to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

ATD and the Irish 17 october Committee remember also her contribution to the 2009 UN Day for Eradication of Poverty at the eve of 20th anniversary of the UN Convention of the rights of the Child.

16 Jul

Dóchas writes to new Ministers

The Government reshuffle means that Dóchas now has to deal a new Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, as well as a new Minister of State for “ODA, Trade Promotion and North-South Relations”.

To welcome the two new Ministers, and to thank the outgoing Minister, Dóchas has written to all three.

You can find here the letter to Joe Costello TD and to Charlie Flanagan TD – a very similar letter has gone out to Sean Sherlock.

It is important to build on the strong political support that exists in Leinster House towards the Overseas Aid Budget.

Here links to two recent policy papers:

Dóchas’ submission to the review of Ireland’s foreign policy

Dóchas’ submission to Budget 2014

ATD is associate member of Dóchas.

15 Jul

Rest in peace Jacqueline


On Sunday morning, July 13, 2014, ATD long-term activist Jacqueline, died peacefully in her sleep.

Her commitment was rooted in her experiences as a child, youth and adult, that made extreme poverty intolerable to her.  She too often witnessed injustice.

In 2009, on RTE Radio One, Jacqueline explained: “I grew up in poverty. My husband and I have been homeless for the last 15 years.  My husband’s dad wanted a better life for his children. Unfortunately, he died quite young. He was working on the Docks. We went through at least 8 different B and Bs and hostels. We now live for while in a transitional housing apartment. It is our very first home. We can come and go as we please. As before we pay our rent, but for the first time in our lives, we have our own keys and some privacy!
I look after my husband who is a dialysis patient. I am his carer. It is a full time job. I do worry about him. There are people out there who are now  worst off than us. I pray that they will eventually get into a B&B or hostel to be out of the cold. I pray that they will link in with somebody who will make changes happen, like our current key worker”.

When preparing herself to welcome in Dublin the International Committee for the UN Day for Eradication of Poverty  in May 2014, Jacqueline said: ”When you’re out there (living on the street) no one cares… It took us over 10 years to get the place I’m in now… I know I’d lose this place if they found out that I helped others who I know who are still on the street … But I know what its like… I wouldn’t leave any of my family behind… My home is important to me but my family is more important…” .

ATD Ireland is grateful to Jacqueline for everything she has left us, for the determination of her commitment, for her sense of humor.

We have lost an activist and a friend. Let us keep our links strong! With her, with you.

13 Jul

Creativity Worldwide: new ATD’s initiatives abroad!

Here are some examples of ATD’s new projects or ideas that are about to take shape as projects…

Haiti: Evaluation  of  the  Health  Card  system  that  provides access to health care to over 700 families in link with ATD in Port-au-Prince; the aim is to draw lessons from an experience of more than two decades to inspire a social protection plan on a territorial or country level.

France:   A  booklet,  “Daring  to  talk  about  money”  is  to  be created  in  the  framework  of  the  ATD’s  Citizens’ Universities for Dialogue and Solidarity to allow people who have to live on an impossibly tight budget to voice their experience, their coping strategies and their thoughts on the economy.

World Bank: An International Study on the Indicators of poverty that introduces social exclusion as a factor. The objective is to obtain a revision by the World Bank of their
definition of poverty at present limited to the indicator of earning less than 1,25$ a day. Earning 1,30$ instead, does not raise anyone out of extreme poverty, and yet this indicator
determines  international  development  policies.  Merging knowledge from people in situations of extreme poverty and scholars  alike  may  lead  to  adequate  indicators  as  well  as growing  recognition  that  people  in  situations  of  extreme poverty  can  play  an  active  role  in  building  collective knowledge in the sphere of university and politics.

Spain: a Soap Making Workshop  is planned in Sevilla, to learn together, to raise funds for community development activities and to become able to add to the family income. This workshop also wants to provide an alternative to illicite economic activities. Similar attempts have been discussed or tried  out  in  the  Philippines,  in  Peru,  and  in  Bolivia  to
examine the economic feasibility of this kind of projects a well as the way to reinforce solidarity within a community instead of triggering jealousy.

Madagascar: Manufacturing low energy cookers fueled with wood – ATD’s social business “Working and Learning Together” plans  to develop in partnership with the association Bolivia Inti Sud Soleil new activities that meet local needs and contribute to reduce rampant deforestation.

07 Jul

End of June, more than 100 countries support the adoption of a resolution on extreme poverty and human rights at the UN Human Rights Council

The French mission to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has succeeded in bringing together over 100 countries to support a resolution extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

On 26th June 2014, France brought together over 100 countries in Geneva to support a resolution presented to the Human Rights Council with the aim of recognising the challenge posed by extreme poverty around the world and renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights for three more years.

The resolution also promotes the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, adopted in 2012 by the UN. ATD Fourth World considers that these Guiding Principles are particularly valuable because they underline the importance of prioritising the access of people living in poverty to all of their fundamental rights.

More than 100 countries supported the resolution, presented by France on behalf of a transnational Group of Friends composed of Albania, Belgium, Chile, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Romania and Senegal. The resolution was adopted by consensus.

By prolonging the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, the Council affirms its wish to better understand the relationship between human rights and extreme poverty, and its openness to recommendations that will help advance the fight against extreme poverty. The mandate holder is required to conduct thematic studies, carry out two country visits per year, and produce an annual report for the UN General Assembly setting out any advances and discoveries made. In recent years, the Special Rapporteur has played an essential role in guaranteeing that the voices of people living in poverty are heard in the UN and elsewhere.

The mandate is currently held by Philip Alston, Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, and co-Chair of the law school’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. Alston has held a range of senior UN appointments for over two decades, including serving as Chair of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from 1991 to 1998.

A copy of this ATD International’s press release is available for download.

01 Jul

ATD in Brazil: No development without the participation of everyone

Here is an example of a consultation led by ATD in Brazil, with Brasil pela dignidade, Verdejar and Raizes en Movimento.

A group in Petropolis welcomes mums and young people from the ATD street library project in order to work on an MDGs evaluation all together (on evaluation and report see here).

It was a first attempt to work in this way with adults living in the favelas of Petropolis.

A participatory process has been set up in order to think out and decide on the work method from start to finish.

Partner associations, some of which are based in Rio favelas are continuing this participatory work.

No development without the participation of everyone from Unheard-voices.org on Vimeo.