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Race to End Poverty? The Roles of Ethnicity and International Economic Law in the Eradication of Extreme Poverty by 2030

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Target 1.1 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals commits the international community to eradicating “extreme poverty” by 2030. This article asserts that raising the standards of living of one billion extremely poor people will require navigating two perilous seas. The first is racial discrimination. With emerging evidence that ethnic minorities dominate the extremely poor, international action must involve “calling out” racial discrimination where it is inhibiting efforts to reduce extreme poverty. The second is international economic law. States with extremely poor ethnic minorities are obliged, under international human rights law, to introduce temporary “special measures” (affirmative action) to raise those minorities to a position of equality. However, special measures which are directly targeted at reducing racially-delineated extreme poverty may not comply with international economic law disciplines. The article investigates the compliance problems which such measures might encounter and concludes by suggesting steps for a smoother passage towards achieving Target 1.1.

Affiliations: 1: Visiting Fellow and Director, Trade, Human Rights and Development Project, Faculty of Law, UNSW, Sydney, NSW, Australia


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