Report on the International Conference "Poverty, Inequality and Violence: Is there a Human Rights Response?"
The international conference “Poverty, inequality and violence: is there a human rights response?” was organised in Geneva by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) from October 4-6 2005 to answer the question "How can we prevent or reduce violence, including torture, by acting on the root causes found in violations of economic, social and cultural rights?".
Human rights defenders from some 40 countries, United Nations human rights experts, representatives of international trade unions, academics, international officials and representatives of donors gathered for the three-day conference to discuss the causal relationship between poverty, inequalities, violations of economic, social and cultural rights and violence. The conference understood violence in its broadest sense, including State-sponsored violence (e.g., torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, summary executions, disappearances, etc.), violence by non-State actors, social violence, and domestic violence. Its work was based on an interdisciplinary study entitled “Poverty, inequality and violence: the economic, social and cultural root causes of violence, including torture, a human rights perspective”. The conference and the study were part of a project carried out from 2003 to 2005 by OMCT within the programme of the Geneva International Academic Network (GIAN) and with the financial support of the GIAN, the Dutch Foundation ICCO (Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation), the Geneva-based Fondation des droits de l’homme au travail and the Swiss Federal Government (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation). Guided by a Scientific Council 7, its ultimate objective was to identify specific actions that various actors could take to reduce violence by acting on its economic, social and cultural root causes.