A human rights income: how a basic income could help states fulfil human rights obligations

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Kobak, Peter
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Income inequality, persistent unemployment, and poverty have pushed political communities to search for new solutions to old social problems. In this context, the idea of a basic income has recently emerged as a popular and powerful proposal. Yet, despite its growing popularity, the concept of basic income has largely gone without mention in the human rights community. Perhaps this is because proponents of basic income have not built a strong argument for how the international human rights community may be positioned to support their cause. In this paper, I seek to assess the congruity between human rights and basic income by studying how the policy could impact the enjoyment of human rights. If basic income can be shown to be a positive tool for the development of human rights, space can be created for both supporters of human rights and advocates of basic income to produce meaningful collaboration. In my research, I use one of the most ratified and comprehensive human rights treaties, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, as a reference point for dealing with basic income’s human rights impact. Carefully, I examine basic income against the articles of the Covenant and make predictions on how a basic impact would impact human rights, using basic income pilot studies to complement my predictions when appropriate. In the end, I conclude that there is a comfortable congruity between basic income and human rights. Importantly, human rights can serve as a guide for formulating an adequately high level of basic income, as well as an encouragement to include non-nationals as recipients. In turn, a basic income has the potential to help individuals overcome problems of access that often stand as obstacles to the enjoyment of human rights.
Second semester University: Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań.
basic needs, human rights, income, International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, public welfare