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Laos: UN human rights expert visits to assess poverty

GENEVA (12 March 2019) – The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, will undertake a human rights fact-finding visit to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic from 18 to 28 March 2019 to examine the Government’s efforts to eradicate poverty.

“Lao PDR has made impressive strides in reducing poverty, although almost a quarter of the population still lives below the poverty line,” said Alston.

“I am keen to understand why, despite years of strong economic growth and progress in reducing poverty, large parts of the population still lack access to education, clean water or affordable healthcare.”

This is only the second visit by a Special Rapporteur to Lao PDR in the past decade and thus represents an important milestone in the relationship between the Government and the UN human rights system.

Alston has indicated to the Government that he wishes to travel to Vientiane, Champasack, Attapeu, Xienkuang and Houaphanh. He will meet Government officials and individuals affected by poverty, as well as representatives of civil society organisations, diplomats, international organisations and development workers.

“I will be looking closely at how the benefits of economic growth and foreign investment affect the situation of people in poverty,” Alston said.

“I also plan to examine access to social support, education and healthcare; the situation of children, women, ethnic minorities and those living in rural areas; the impact of land tenure, environmental issues and climate change; the role of infrastructure and development projects and investment in relation to poverty, and the extent to which people living in poverty are able to enjoy their civil and political rights.”

The Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary observations and recommendations at a press conference to be held at the end of his mission on 28 March 2019 at 11:00 local time at: UN House (Lane Xang Avenue, Vientiane). It will be live-streamed.

Alston’s final report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2019.


Note: Before and during the visit, the Special Rapporteur’s engagement with the media will be limited to commenting on the scope of the visit, the areas he will be visiting, and other logistical aspects. Only at the press conference and thereafter will he be in a position to discuss his findings and conclusions.

Mr. Philip Alston (Australia) took up his functions as the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in June 2014.  As a Special Rapporteur, he is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Follow the Special Rapporteur on Twitter@Alston_UNSR
and Facebook at www.facebook.com/AlstonUNSR

UN human rights, Country Page — Laos

For more information and media requests, please contact: Mr. Bassam Khawaja (+1 646 886 7211; bassam.khawaja@nyu.edu ) or Ms Patricia Varela (+41794443707; pvarela@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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