Making the Invisible Visible: The Case for Truth Commission on Poverty in Canada

(Photo: Peter Power)

Poverty remains as a human rights violation remains an under-explored subject, particularly in Western states like Canada. Within the field of transitional justice, the issue has likewise received less attention than violations of civil and political rights. In a new (draft) paper entitled “Making the Invisible Visible The Case for Truth Commission on Poverty in Canada“, I tackle this topic and ask what role transitional justice and, specifically, a truth commission, could play in helping to address the systemic and structural violence of poverty in Canada. For those interested, here is the abstract:

Socio-economic conditions have received greater attention in recent years but remain a blindspot in transitional justice. So too do settler colonial contexts. A case in point is Canada. To wed the law and politics of poverty eradication and place victims of poverty at the center of this effort, this paper proposes the creation of a Truth Commission on Poverty (TCP). It proposes the creation of a truth commission to examine to the root causes of poverty, take stock of the current climate for poverty reduction, and lay the groundwork for a coherent approach to poverty eradication in Canada. Not seeking to romanticize truth commissions, the paper assesses their strengths and weaknesses in addressing human rights violations before turning to what a TCP in Canada might offer. It offers six reasons to support such an initiative: (i) to address poverty as an ongoing human rights violation; (ii) to render visible the victims and survivors of poverty’s violence; (iii) to interrogate and address the root causes of poverty in Canada; (iv) to assess the consequences of poverty in Canada; (v) to inform the language of social and economic inequalities; and (vi) to alter the political costs of addressing poverty in Canada by accepting social and economic rights as justiciable.

The full-text of the paper can be found here. I am also happy to share copies of the article with those who do not have access to If you have feedback or comments, they are more than welcome.

Thank you, as always, for reading!


About Mark Kersten

Mark Kersten is a consultant at the Wayamo Foundation, a Senior Researcher at the Munk School of Global Affairs, and a law student at McGill University Law School. He is also author of the book, 'Justice in Conflict - The Effects of the International Criminal Court's Interventions on Ending Wars and Building Peace' (Oxford University Press, 2016).
This entry was posted in Canada, Social and Economic Rights, Transitional Justice, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, Truth Commission. Bookmark the permalink.

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