philip alston

philip alston.png


intro’d to Philip because of his 15 day tour of us poverty

dec 2017 – why un is investigating extreme poverty in richest nation

With 41 million Americans officially in poverty according to the US Census Bureau (other estimates put that figure much higher), one aim of the UN mission will be to demonstrate that no country, however wealthy, is immune from human suffering induced by growing inequality.


The UN’s Philip Alston is an expert on deprivation – and he wants to know why 41m Americans are living in poverty. The Guardian joined him on a special two-week mission into the dark heart of the world’s richest nation



one of biggest challenges for human rights is to look at the issue of inequality.. translates many ways into what we call economic and social rights.. ie: to healthcare, ed, food, .. these rights are much neglected..

when we talk about rights in other countries we think about torture.. repression.. but the rights that really matter to the vast majority of the world’s population are those econ and social rights


read the report (by Philip):

us one of richest/powerful/tech-innovative.. but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty.

on tour.. saw good and bad – addressing poverty

American exceptionalism was a constant theme in my conversations. But instead of realizing its founders’ admirable commitments, today’s United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights. As a result, contrasts between private wealth and public squalor abound.


  • US one of wealthiest.. spends more on national defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France and Japan combined.
  • US healthcare expenditures ..double the OECD average ..many fewer doctors and hospital beds per person than the OECD average.
  • US infant mortality rates 2013 highest in developed world.
  • Americans can expect to live shorter and sicker lives,
  • US inequality levels are far higher than those in most European countries
  • Neglected tropical diseases, .. 12 mn Americans live with a neglected parasitic infection.
  • The US has highest prevalence of obesity in the developed world.
  • access to water/sanitation ranks 36th in the world.
  • America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, ..nearly 5x OECD avg
  • youth poverty rate..highest across the OECD ..1/4 of youth living in poverty compared to less than 14% across the OECD.
  • comes in last of top 10 most well-off countries, and 18th amongst the top 21.
  • In the OECD the US ranks 35th out of 37 in terms of poverty and inequality.

To read to full report, click here


find/follow Philip:

link twitter

poverty is a political choice

UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme & . Professor at .

on un site:

on nyu site:

Philip Alston teaches international law, international criminal law, and a range of human rights subjects.

presents reports to un et al

wikipedia small

Philip G. Alston is an international law scholar and human rights practitioner. He is John Norton Pomeroy 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. In human rights law, Alston has held a range of senior UN appointments for over two decades, including United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, a position he held from August 2004 to July 2010

lists his reports to un on outbreaks, poverty,.. ie (most recent):

In 2017 the United Nations undertook an investigation on the effects of systemic poverty in the United States. In a November 29, 2017 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) statement, Alston observed, “Some might ask why a UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights would visit a country as rich as the United States. But despite great wealth in the US, there also exists great poverty and inequality…[He will] focus on how poverty affects the civil and political rights of people living within the US, given the United States’ consistent emphasis on the importance it attaches to these rights in its foreign policy…[He will investigate] the “criminal justice system, welfare and healthcare, barriers to political participation, homelessness, and basic social rights such as the right to social protection, housing, water and sanitation.” In November 2017, the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) published a report on an outbreak of hookworm in Alabama, which is a disease of extreme poverty. Hookworm, an intestinal parasite, an endemic tropical disease, is listed as a neglected tropical disease. It was thought to have been “slowly eradicated” in the United States starting in the 1930s. It is found in areas that have “[i]nadequate public health services and a general lack of basic citizen knowledge of health and hygiene” and reflects a “weak public education system.” The UN investigation includes areas in California, Alabama, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. In December 2017, Alston reported that in “a community in Butler County, Alabama he found raw sewage flowing “from homes through exposed PVC pipes and into open trenches and pits.”


via david ev-ca on fb

There’s an elephant in the room. Let’s talk about Roy Moore. Oh, and #MeToo, and Weinstein and Trump and Trump and Trump – and Hillary, a-fucking-gain.

But not the biggest news story of the end of this year – that the Trump Administration ‘invited’ this UN rapporteur to survey poverty in this country and give us a report card that would be an ‘F’ in any school.

But nobody wants to talk about that – so they walk around that elephant, talking about the Bitcoin boom.

So. You want to change the world? Talk to Trump about this. Get him to proclaim poverty a national crisis, like FDR and LBJ did – because Trump didn’t create this. Obama and Bush and Clinton and Bush and Reagan did.

It may not affect you – but did you think you were raising your children in a country that scores worse of poverty than Turkey? It will certainly affect them.

(same as first link shared above)


Democracy Now! (@democracynow) tweeted at 6:42 AM – 19 Dec 2017 :

.@Alston_UNSR says the GOP tax bill “is going to be funded in part by cuts to welfare, Medicare, Medicaid. So what you’ve got is a huge effort to enrich the richest and to impoverish the poorest.” #DNlive (


Jason Hickel (@jasonhickel) tweeted at 1:16 AM on Mon, Jul 06, 2020:
Big news today. Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty and Human Rights, has just released his final report.  It is a withering indictment of the “progress” narrative, and of the poverty line on which it is built.

19 pg pdf

p 19


82. In evaluating poverty eradication, the international community should stop hiding behind an international poverty line that uses a standard of miserable subsistence. The UN should have the courage of its convictions and acknowledge that the scale of global poverty is far more accurately reflected in its own indicators and reporting.

83. Supporters of the SDGs should acknowledge that there is a deep deficit of political motivation underlying the current malaise in which key goals such as poverty eradication, economic inequality, gender inequality, and climate change are very far from being achieved. To avoid sleepwalking towards assured failure while pumping out endless bland reports, new strategies, genuine mobilization, empowerment, and accountability are needed. Recalibrating the SDG framework itself in response to fundamentally changed circumstances is an urgent first step.

84. Ever-greater reliance on the private sector to defeat global poverty, whether through PPPs or philanthropy, is a blind alley. Businesses are not motivated, managed, empowered, or incentivized to perform many of the essential public functions being systematically outsourced to them. This trend represents an abdication of responsibility by governments and international organizations.

85. Extreme poverty is and must be understood as a violation of human rights. Protestations of inadequate resources are entirely unconvincing given the determined refusal of many governments to adopt just fiscal policies, end tax evasion, and stop corruption. Poverty is a political choice and will be with us until its elimination is reconceived as a matter of social justice. Only when the goal of realizing the human right to an adequate standard of living replaces the World Bank’s miserable subsistence line will the international community be on track to eliminate extreme poverty


David Graeber (@davidgraeber) tweeted at 7:06 AM on Tue, Jul 07, 2020:
this is very important. For 10 years now we’ve been fed a lie that “capitalism” is causing massive reductions in global poverty. In fact global poverty has been getting worse. Now COVID is making the debacle precipitous .@jasonhickel



ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way



Kathy Edin

Paul Polak

Matt Taibbi – the divide

Matthew Desmond –evicted