UN Report on Ireland by Independent expert on human rights and extreme poverty - Full Text

Posted on Thursday, 26 May 2011

A United Nations report has strongly criticized the Government’s policy of making major cuts in public services while keeping Ireland a low-tax country. The report states that this approach hits poor people hardest in a time of recession.

The report was prepared by the UN’s independent expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty, Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona and was based on a detailed study of developments in Ireland she conducted earlier this year.
The report also calls on EU states to reduce the interest rate charged on Ireland’s EU-IMF loan, warning a failure to do so could well leave them in breach of their international legal obligations.
This report will now go to the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council. 

Key Points
The report

  • States that unemployment is rising and increasing numbers of people are living in poverty and social exclusion. The impact of the crisis has been severe, particularly for the most vulnerable segments;
  • Criticises the Government for seeking to reduce the budget deficit by imposing deep cuts in public spending while maintain a low tax regime. It points out that this is likely to have a major impact on the most vulnerable in society. 
  • States: “Reductions in public expenditure affect the poorest and most vulnerable with the most severity, whereas some increase in taxation rates could place the burden on those who are better equipped to cope.” 
  • Points out that Ireland has one of the lowest levels of taxation in the EU.
  • Criticises the universal social charge, which it describes as a regressive tax. It says it welcomes the new Government’s plan to review the charge.
  • “…recognises the difficult situation that Ireland faces in the aftermath of the economic and financial crises, but reminds the State of its continuing obligations to comply with human rights standards.”
  • Points out that: “Human rights are not a policy option, dispensable during times of economic hardship. It is, therefore, vital that Ireland immediately undertakes a human rights review of all budgetary and recovery policies and ensures that it complies with . . . human rights principles.”
  • Praises the Government for seeking a reduction in the interest rate charged on its EU-IMF loan, saying this would increase funds for those in need.
  • Calls on EU states to seriously consider acceding to Ireland’s request for a reduction in the interest rate, saying they must consider their own international obligations to the poor.
  • Where EU states are concerned points out that: “According to their obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, they must do everything possible to ensure that their lending policies do not have a detrimental impact on the enjoyment of the covenant’s rights by those living in poverty in the concerned country,” says the report.
  • Includes detailed recommendations in each of its sections, but especially urges Ireland to take the following steps:

a) Strengthen the legal and institutional framework by giving domestic legal effect to Ireland’s international human rights obligations, and ratifying and incorporating into domestic law international, treaties to which it is not yet party;
b) Review its Programme for Government and National Recovery to ensure that it complies with human rights principles, particularly the obligation to use the maximum resources available and to not take retrogressive measures in the protection of economic, social and cultural rights, and consider reversing those measures which will disproportionately impact on the most vulnerable and excluded, particularly reductions in social protection payments and funding to public services; and
c)  (c) Strengthen the social protection system, infrastructure and social services to ensure the full enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights of the population, and remove barriers that prevent the most vulnerable segments of society from accessing their entitlements.

The full text of the UN Report on Ireland prepared by independent expert on human rights and extreme poverty Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona and published on May 17, 2011 may be accessed here.

The Full Document cab be accessed below

UN Report