LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A United Nations human rights expert was in the Southland Monday as part of a nationwide tour to “investigate” efforts to combat homelessness and “how they relate to US obligations under international human rights law”, according to a civil liberties group.

Philip Alston, the U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, is set to attend a forum on homelessness Monday organized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU). The forum, which is being hosted at the ACLU’s Westlake district headquarters, will touch on issues including bail and “ways that cities have tried to criminalize homelessness.”

His visit will also include a walking tour of Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.

“Some might ask why a U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights would visit a country as rich as the United States,” Alston said. “But despite great wealth in the U.S., there also exists great poverty and inequality.”

Other forum topics will include the “impact of fines and fees on the human rights of persons living in poverty” and the “criminalization” of homelessness through anti-homeless laws and quality of life ordinances, which will focus specifically on Orange County, according to ACLU spokesman David Colker.

Alston’s national tour began last Friday in Washington with meetings with federal officials on welfare, food stamp and Medicare programs.

Following his stop in Los Angeles, Alston is scheduled for stops in San Francisco, Atlanta, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. later this month.

Special Procedures experts such as Alston work on a voluntary basis, are not considered U.N. staff and do not receive a salary for their work.

His final report on his U.S. visit is expected to be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2018.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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