A Human Rights Response to the Financial Crisis and Economic Recession
In response to requests by ESCR-Net members at our General Assembly in Nairobi and thereafter, the ESCR-Net Secretariat--together with an active group of members*--has embarked on a new campaign to advocate for a human rights response to the financial crisis and enduring economic recession which calls for policy alternatives that place human rights norms at the center of the agenda, in which people and the environment, not banks or business, are fundamental in economic policy-making.
At the twelfth session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), ESCR-Net co-organized the event "Responding to the Global Economic Crisis - Are Human Rights Relevant?" together with ESCR-Net members Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and Center of Concern (CoC) to further build awareness and organizational linkages around the economic crisis. The objective of the event was to reflect on the global economic and financial crisis from a human rights perspective, and to examine the extent to which commitments to this approach made at the Human Rights Council's Special Session in February 2009 and at the UN General Assembly meeting in June 2009 have been translated into concrete and practical policies and actions. The event helped generate debate on concrete proposals for how human rights can contribute to defining national and global policy responses to the crisis, and how the Human Rights Council, its special procedures, and non-governmental human rights organizations, as well as States individually, can play a role.
Various ESCR-Net members and the UN Special Rapporteurs on Food, Olivier De Schutter and Extreme Poverty, Magdalena Sepúlveda, participated and the group made concrete proposals for analysis and action to the HRC, several of which were taken up in the HRC's final resolution. These included the establishment of a panel discussion during the high-level segment of its thirteenth session in March 2010 to discuss and evaluate the impact of the financial and economic crises to the realization of all human rights worldwide. A request was also made to the OHCHR to consult widely and report on the impact of the crises on the realization of all human rights and on possible actions required to alleviate it.
Finally, during this period, ESCR-Net collaborated with the Center for Women's Global Leadership to begin developing a training module on macroeconomic policies and human rights, working with allies in the US and Mexico. Depending on funding, the objective would be to later extend these workshops to include members and training at the regional or national level in other continents.
For more information about our work or to get involved in these advocacy efforts on the financial and economic crisis, write to Niko Lusiani at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Bridging Trade, Investment, Finance and Human Rights: A Pilot Project in the Agricultural Sector
The Center of Concern and ESCR-Net-together with 14 key human rights and trade organizations-are spearheading a pilot project on trade, finance, investment and human rights. The goal of the project is to increase the impact of human rights advocacy on policy-making processes on trade, investment and finance, with a particular focus on the agriculture sector. During this period, a set of Guidelines for a Human Rights Approach to Economic Policy in Agriculture were reviewed and further elaborated by participating organizations, with additional discussions to come to finalize them. In addition, participants have begun to use the Resource Manual developed throughout the course of the project on Bridging Trade, Investment, Finance and Human Rights in Agriculture, which provides key information and resources to those interested in integrating these tools into their capacity-building workshops at the national and regional levels. Following a full-year testing period with this Resource Manual, participants will share their experiences, cases and lessons learned in order to strengthen the Manual for future use by ESCR-Net members and partner organizations.
For more information about this pilot project, write to Niko Lusiani at email@example.com.
Extra-territorial Obligations (ETO) Consortium Work
ESCR-Net has been a part of the ETO Consortium since its inception, a network of some 30 NGOs, university institutes and individuals from different parts of the world led by ESCR-Net member FIAN International. The Consortium is preparing a "document of principles" on extraterritorial state obligations for economic, social and cultural rights. The work of the Consortium is based on cases from a wide range of fields relevant to extraterritorial obligations. Each case is developed by mixed teams of NGOs and academic experts. From the lessons learned in each case, along with the experience of movements and NGOs championing them, the Consortium will develop the relevant conceptual and legal principles on ETOs into an international document. The 2nd conference of the ETO Consortium took place in Heidelberg, Germany in September, 2008, and the third occurred in Lancaster, England in September, 2009. ESCR-Net Program Associate Niko Lusiani presented on States' extraterritorial obligations to protect against business-related human rights abuses during the public session of this Conference, and ESCR-Net agreed to help facilitate the coming campaign and mobilization efforts to build awareness and gather broad support for extraterritorial human rights obligations.
For more information and how to get involved in the ETO Consortium, write to Niko Lusiani at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Among the most active ESCR-Net members and participants in this campaign for a human rights response to the economic crisis are the Center of Concern, the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), the Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL), Social Watch, and the Housing and Land Rights Network.