Poverty is a phenomenon with many dimensions. We will approach it from a human rights perspective, whereby the fight to
eradicate poverty becomes a political responsibility. The available data show that a worryingly high proportion of countries
will not achieve the first Millennium Development Goal, which is to reduce the percentage of the population living in
extreme poverty by half between 1990 and 2015. If we leave India and China out of the calculations we find that not only
has the number of poor people in the world not fallen, it has actually increased.
The phenomenon of poverty is on the agenda of virtually all the social and political actors in the world today. It is on the policy agendas of governments, multilateral bodies and civil society organizations too. However, there is a wide range of focuses
on this problem and alternative ways to analyse it, some with slight differences and some that are in complete contrast to each other. There is laboured discussion about just how being poor ought to be conceptualized, but behind these debates about concepts what is in play here are the different policies and different paths towards achieving a decent life for all human beings.