A new Amnesty International campaign to give a voice to people living in deprivation will empower "prisoners of poverty" as previous campaigns empowered prisoners of conscience, says Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan.
Irene Khan unveiled the Demand Dignity campaign at the launch of Amnesty International's annual report on the state of the world's human rights, which warns that the world is sitting on a "time bomb" fuelled by an unfolding human rights crisis.
"The economic downturn has aggravated abuses, distracted attention from them and created new problems. In the name of security, human rights were trampled on. Now, in the name of economic recovery, they are being relegated to the back seat," she said.
Demand Dignity is a long-term campaign that will focus on tackling exclusion, discrimination, marginalisation and poverty.
Its first action will be launched when Irene Khan leads an Amnesty International delegation to Kenya on 8 June. She will visit a number of Nairobi's informal settlements including Kibera, Africa's biggest slum.
"Economic recovery will be neither sustainable nor equitable if governments fail to tackle abuses that drive and deepen poverty, or armed conflicts that generate new violations," said Irene Khan.
The first stage of the new campaign will focus on ending forced evictions and preventable maternal deaths of women, as well as calling on the G-20 nations to develop clear rules to hold extractive industries to account for human rights abuses.
She added that the Demand Dignity campaign would enhance Amnesty International's more traditional work.
"Demand Dignity will not dilute our mission, poverty is a major human rights issue in itself and it is absolutely essential that world leaders tackle it now. Amnesty International has always stood up for the individual and for the vulnerable. Ignoring one crisis to focus on another is a recipe for aggravating both," she said.