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How do you measure poverty?

How do you measure poverty?

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie

Dies, Student Prize winners 2011

More students than ever won the Student Prize this year. The Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences awarded the prize to two students, and the winning thesis of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences was a group effort. The subjects of the theses were very broad, ranging from social media to malaria. Observant spoke with two of the winners. 

Felicia Fall, graduate of International Law, wrote her master’s thesis on the legality or illegality of the killing of Osama Bin Laden

As she announced during the ceremony on Friday when she received her prize, the killing was not lawful under international law. “That is, from a legal point of view – I didn’t take politics into account”, says Fall.

First, she had to decide if the killing happened during war time. “When the US invaded Afghanistan it was an international armed conflict; two or more states engaging in a conflict with each other. However, when the interim government was installed in 2001, the conflict changed into a conflict between a rebel group (Al Qaeda) and a democratically elected government; a non-international armed conflict. As it was US state agents killing Bin Laden in Pakistan (a different country), it didn’t happen during war time and therefore doesn’t fall under international humanitarian law.”

So Fall tested the case against international human rights law. “Even a terrorist is still a human being, with basic human rights.” And those rights were violated, she says. “The main justification for the killing of Bin Laden proposed by the US is based on the inherent right to self-defence. But the right to self-defence only applies to an immediate threat. Bin Laden attacked the US ten years ago and at the time of the killing he was unarmed. They could have wounded and captured him, but they directly aimed to kill.”


Andrés Mideros Mora, graduate of Public Policy and Human Development at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, wrote his thesis on defining and measuring multidimensional poverty

What is poverty? This is the question Mideros Mora asked himself. “You could measure it by the amount of money someone has. But a man in a village who lives on US$2 a day may have access to more services and goods – like someone who looks after his children – than a man in a city who earns more money.” Poverty is multidimensional, he says. “Therefore, development can’t be understood just as economic growth. To be able to set development goals you have to define what poverty is.” Furthermore, when a development goal is established, there needs to be a social commitment to execute it. “The whole of society has to be on board. People need to participate and to demand policies to reach this goal.”

A difficult task, he admits. “There’s a broad range of literature that tries to define and measure poverty, and a great many anti-poverty policies, but some of them are contradictory. More research is needed.” Some of that research he will do himself as a PhD candidate at the School of Governance, where he will research social protection and socioeconomic development.


Cleo Freriks

Winners and Royal Decoration

The other winners of the Student Prize 2011 were Jessica Maltha (FHML), Jelly Soffers (FHML), Aidas Massiliunas (SBE), Paul Beckman, Alexander Hoppe, Katharina Jautz, Lara Schartau and Julia Schmälter (FASoS) and Mario Senden (FPN).
The Education Prize 2011 was awarded to two SBE staff members, Bas van Diepen and Christian Kerckhofs.
The UM rector Professor Gerard Mols, PhD, received a Royal Decoration from the Governor of Limburg, Theo Bovens. Mols was appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau for outstanding services both in his main position as rector since 2004 and in other positions. Mols will be succeeded by Professor Luc Soete, PhD, on 1 September 2012.



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