A/HRC/35/26 United Nations General Assembly Distr.: General 22 March 2017 Original: English Human Rights Council Thirty-fifth session 6-23 June 2017 Agenda item 3 Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Note by the Secretariat The Secretariat has the honour to transmit to the Human Rights Council the report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, prepared pursuant to Council resolution 26/3. The Special Rapporteur notes that the fundamental values of the international human rights system are under attack in new and diverse ways in 2017. One widely shared explanation is the rapidly growing sense of economic insecurity afflicting large segments of many societies. The Special Rapporteur suggests that the human rights community has had little to offer in response. Indeed, there is a risk that rather than seeking creative ways in which to address the problem of economic insecurity the human rights system will proceed in zombie mode. It will keep marching straight ahead on the path mapped out long ago, even as the lifeblood drains out of the enterprise. The report is premised on the view that the human rights movement needs to address and respond to the fundamental changes that are taking place in economic and social structures at the national and global levels. In this setting, one of the most vibrant proposals is to replace or supplement existing social protection systems with a universal basic income (“basic income”). This proposal has recently drawn attention from governments, scholars, and practitioners in various fields. In its comprehensive and ideal form, a basic income is explicitly designed to challenge most of the key assumptions underpinning existing social security systems. Rather than payments being partial, they guarantee a floor; instead of being episodic, payments are regular; rather than being needs-based, they are paid as a flat rate to all; they come in cash, rather than as messy in-kind support; they accrue to every individual, rather than only to needy households; rather than requiring that various conditions be met, they are unconditional; rather than excluding the well off, they are universal; and instead of being based on lifetime contributions, they are funded primarily from taxation. And simplicity of design promises minimal bureaucracy and low administrative costs. The principal purpose of the report is to reflect on the desirability of advocating a basic income approach to social protection when viewed from the perspective of international human rights law. Basic income offers a bold and imaginative solution to pressing problems that are about to become far more intractable as a result of the directions GE.17-04619(E) 

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