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Statement by President Higgins on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2023

Date: Tue 17th Oct, 2023 | 08:07

“Mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, may I send my very best wishes to all those participating in this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. 

This year’s theme, “Let Dignity be Our Compass”, is a most appropriate one, examining as it does how we can use dignity as the compass to ensure that human rights and social justice are at the heart of national and global decision making.

Dignity is the value that expresses the essence of our shared humanity, the cornerstone upon which human rights and social justice are built. It is a guiding principle that should direct our path as we strive for a world free from poverty, inequality, and suffering. It is our duty to ensure that every policy, every initiative, and every action taken, is rooted in the respect for the inherent dignity and worth of every person.

In a world where poverty persists, it is crucial that we reaffirm our commitment to eradicating it, not as an act of charity, but as a matter of justice and fundamental human rights. We must recognize that poverty not only deprives individuals and communities of their basic needs but also strips them of their dignity. No one should ever have to endure the indignity of poverty.

So much urgent work needs to be done. The recent United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals Progress Report reveals weak or insufficient progress on over 50% of targets, with 30% stalled or regressing, including critical objectives related to poverty, insufficiency and hunger. It is crucial to unite, to work together on a moral basis for intergenerational justice, and strive to achieve these Goals in the aim of a better, more just future.

We must address the structural inequalities that perpetuate poverty, collectively endeavour to dismantle the systemic barriers that sustain inequality and injustice, and work tirelessly towards a future of equality for all. It is through breaking the poverty cycle that we can ensure that future generations can grow and flourish in a world that is fair, just and inclusive, respecting the rights and voices of all its citizens.
We must be cognisant, too, of the negative impacts that so many policies in what is called the ‘developed’ world are having on poverty levels in the Global South. Major changes are needed and with urgency, including the moving away from the destructive paradigm under which we have been living for over four decades, towards an ecological-social paradigm that is just, sustainable and inclusive.

Today, as we observe the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let us redouble our efforts, both nationally and globally, to eradicate poverty in all its forms. Let us stand together, as one global community, to ensure that dignity is not just a compass but a reality for all, at the very heart of a shared, ethical and democratic future.

May I commend all those who today, in a great spirit of shared humanity, raise their voices in solidarity with those most vulnerable in our shared society.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.”