Hallway Talks with Former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights & Poverty, Philip G. Alston

By Rhea Almeida and Luisa Portugal

Philip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. Photo by: Cia Pak / U.N.

NYU Law Professor Philip Alston draws on his decades-long experience in human rights, and explains why poverty is extremely political. We hear his views on the limitations of UN Sustainable Development Goals, and why technocratic economists are not the only experts we need to rely on, especially after COVID-19.  

This podcast episode features Alston’s take on how multilateral organizations should evolve, why climate change needs a bolder approach, and why the eradication of poverty  is not a priority of the elite power within global institutions. 

We end discussing Professor Alston’s adventures in a remote village in Papua New Guinea.


0:00: Welcome from Rhea Almeida and Luisa Portugal.

1:56: Professor Alston begins his discussion by talking about poverty in society.

Guest Speaker

Philip Alston’s teaching focuses primarily on international law, human rights law, and international criminal law. He co-chairs the NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. In the human rights area, Alston was appointed in 2014 as the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and has visited and reported on Chile, China, Mauritania, Romania, and Saudi Arabia. He was previously UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions from 2004 to 2010 and undertook fact-finding missions to: Sri Lanka, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, Israel, Lebanon, Albania, Kenya, Brazil, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, the United States, Albania, and Ecuador.


Rhea Almeida is second-year MPA international student at NYU Wagner hailing from Mumbai, India. In the past, she has worked in the fields of policy, advocacy, and development for a women’s working rights group in India. Prior to that, she worked as a TV news journalist in New Delhi. Her areas of interest include workers’ rights, gender equality, grassroot level advocacy and coronavirus response policy. In addition to being contributing editor for The Wagner Review, she serves as senator for the Wagner Student Association, and events chair for the Wagner Policy Alliance. She is also the co-founder of the ‘What’s up with Coronavirus Policy’ discussion group.

Luisa Portugal is a second-year MPA student at NYU Wagner specializing in International Development Management & Policy. She earned an LLM in Constitutional Law and Theory in Brazil. Her main topics of interest are international development, climate change and the coronavirus crisis. Luisa will serve as Co-Chair of Events for the Alliance for Climate Change and Environment (ACE) in the upcoming year. She is also the co-founder of the ‘What’s up with Coronavirus Policy’ discussion group.

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Music credit: Deadly Roulette Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0; License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ Feature image credit: Photo by Cia Pak / U.N.