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 Statement given at the 56 Session of the Commission of Social Development 2018

Respected Chair, excellence’s and colleagues, my name is Celine Paramunda,  Representative of  the Medical Mission Sisters and  Speaking on behalf of the Faith Based Organizations.

All of us in this room agree with the universal declaration of human rights Arti 1,  All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, but the reality is closer to what Dr. Paul Farmer said “The idea that some lives matter less, is the root of all that is wrong with the world” .

Inspired by their Faith, several organizations were at the frontline for centuries in providing social services especially to the people living in poverty, whose lives seem to matter less in society. Living closer to the struggles of the people and feeling their pulse, Faith Based Organizations /FBOs are in a unique position in poverty alleviation and achieving sustainable Development. It is obvious that Health, Education and other social services were provided by FBOs in every nook and corner of the world where government did not reach and are reluctant to go even today. Ironically the FBOs are not only excluded from policy making, but also in many countries government policies are restricting their capacity to continue to provide these services. Unfortunately, there is a dangerous trend in several countries where religious minorities and human rights defenders, including journalists, are attacked or even killed. Sadly this crackdown even by the democratically elected governments are neither helping the country’s development nor in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. We believe that Poverty is the highest form of human rights violation.

We propose 3 strategies to eradicate poverty No1. Identify and address  main challenges.               1. Eradicate the root causes, eg: the neoliberal policies that enables extreme wealth, resulting poverty which is a symptom not the cause. 2. Break the Silo approach both at the UN and in Countrylevel 3. Bring the absent members to the decision making table namely FBOs, women and the people living in poverty, so that they can bring their voices and perspectives.

Strategy No 2: Moving from Silos to Synergy: Cooperation and coordination among various actors internationally and nationally, governments, civil society and Private sector for the common good of eradicating poverty. Identify best practices and learn from experiences – eg; Countries who avoided austerity and invested in social services has seen the positive results. Poverty eradication is not possible without promoting Gender equality and empowerment of women and girl’s.

Strategy No 3.  1. Ensure Universal Social Protection floors from a human right approach that, lives of those living in poverty too matter. 2. If there is political will countries can take  National ownership for social protection floors by reallocating resources to social spending from Military/defense spending. 3. Fulfilling the International commitments of ODA-Official Development Assistance (ODA) and particularly allocating X % for Universal Social Protection Floors. 4 Creating a UN based international Tax body for progressive taxation and setting up a global fund for USPFs are ways to tackle poverty.

I Conclude with Pope Francis’s message to the recent World Economic Forum, “we cannot remain silent in the face of the suffering of millions of people whose dignity is wounded, nor can we continue to move forward as if the spread of poverty and injustice had no cause. It is a moral imperative, a responsibility that involves everyone, to create the right conditions to allow each person to live in a dignified manner”.

Thank you for your attention!                                                                                                                                                                                                                5  Feb 2018