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OPINION: Report on rights and poverty conference in Strasbourg

Planken and Lambrecht - at Council of EuropeOn 21 and 22 February, 2013 in the building of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, a conference took place entitled Poverty and Inequality in Human Society. Proposals for an inclusive society. [1]

The Conference was opened by Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe. In his talk, he seemed somewhat in favor of a basic income, although his posture indicated that he did not wholeheartedly come forward for the idea.

However, the Head of the Unit “Social Cohesion, Research and Early Warning Division” [2] Ms. Gilda Farrell was more positive. She and her team prepared this conference. In her team were two members of BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network), Yannick Vanderborght and Louise Haagh. The team took 3 years of thorough preparation in advance of the conference. Farrell appeared later, when we interviewed her on Saturday with the film crew of the ECI-UBI, to be a strong supporter of the Unconditional Basic Income. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jnDUILaGPY)  However, on the question of whether she wanted to be an ambassador for the UBI, she said she rather would not do this, because of the political implications that would bring. This is often the case with political leaders we have noticed.

We of the Association Basic Income [3] (Ad Planken, Leon Segers, Robin Ketelaars, and Christine Lambrecht from Belgium[4]) were highly surprised by the high “basic income level” of the conference. This was peppered with the term basic income. From the most unexpected corners of concern speakers referred to it. It looks like the “Early Warnings Division” discovered Basic Income at the right time. Europe is ready for a basic income, at least the Council of Europe is.
It is too much to report here what has been said, but the highlight was definitely Guy Standing as a spokesman for the precariat and a fan of Basic Income. Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN [5] emphasized that the struggle for minimum income and the fight for basic income can reinforce each other to fight poverty and exclusion. Anna Coote of the New Economics Foundation gave some tips for a new economy, including a workweek of 21 hours maximum.

The conference was organized by the Social Cohesion Research and Early Warning Division [2]

SUMARY OF THE OBJECTIVES OF THE CONFERENCE:

  • Analyze the current situation and poor problems / obstacles in the fight against poverty and inequality (limits of legal and democratic mechanisms to ensure that it takes into account the voices of people living in poverty, changes in redistributive policies, etc.);
  • Formulate concrete proposals to make progress in the fight against poverty, taking into account the need for the voice of any person, to better utilize and share resources to avoid waste and ensure a more equal access to them, in a perspective of well-being for all;
  • Exchange and share experiences, knowledge and practices to innovative measures to combat poverty and inequality, based on the concepts of common property, shared responsibility and avoiding the waste of resources to implement.

The conference was recorded on video and can be viewed via  http://www.youtube.com/user/SocCohesionCoE

[1]  “Poverty and Inequality in Societies of Human Rights: the paradox of democracies – Proposals for an Inclusive Society” http://rights-poverty.eu/conference/
More about social inclusion: http://books.google.nl/books/about/The_Inclusive_Society.html?id=TaRzQgAACAAJ
[2] http://www.coe.int/t/dg3/socialpolicies/socialcohesiondev/default_en.asp
[3] Vereniging Basisinkomen http://basisinkomen.nl
[4] Netwerk Basisinkomen Belgie http://basicincome.be
[5] http://www.eapn.eu/en/news-and-publications/news/eapn-news/participation-the-key-mechanism-for-social-inclusion-by-fintan-farrell-and-douhoumir-minev

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