Letter from the ESCR-Net Board to Members: December 16, 2009

Dear Members,

A year has passed since the International Strategy Meeting and ESCR-Net General Assembly held in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2008-a year that has been intense and particularly demanding for ESCR-Net, given the momentum and expectations generated at the meeting. Our Network has pushed forward many significant developments since then, founded upon the energy and desire of members and other colleagues to work together to find solutions to the outstanding challenges in the pursuit of social justice and human rights during this year of unparalleled global financial and economic crisis.

This crisis represents enormous threats to our communities, particularly to the most disadvantage sectors. Yet, at the same time, this moment provides a new opportunity for promoting structural changes to the unjust social and economic system we live with today. Over the past year, our membership has responded heartily to the financial crisis by collectively forging the way towards a sustainable, just and viable set of local and global economic policies founded upon our governments' primordial obligations to protect the fundamental dignity and human rights of people rather than the basic interests of the market. Network members-both in the Corporate Accountability Working Group and those working on economic policies-have remained firm in their determination to challenge the impunity of private actors and address the injustices of the trade and financial global regime by collaborating in documentation, capacity-building, and advocacy across borders. Whether by coordinating efforts in international legal and policy debates, or standing in solidarity with frontline ESCR-Net members whose lives and livelihoods are at risk for opposing abusive business activities, our Network has remained dynamic and defiant in this time of unequalled economic shock.

Toward the goal of increasing accountability for economic and social rights' violations, ESCR-Net also became the coordinator of the Campaign for the Ratification and Implementation of the Optional Protocol (OP) to the ICESCR, leading efforts to promote its support by States. So far, the OP has been signed by 30 States, and the Network is now developing plans to promote rapid ratification by at least 10 States so that it enters into force as soon as possible. At the same time, we are influencing the rules of procedure, and designing a programme for supporting strategic litigation by local organizations within this new mechanism. Further, in the area of Adjudication of ESCR, our action has been focused on addressing a shared problem in the use of judicial or/and quasi-judicial bodies-that is, the lack or deficient enforcement of positive ESCR decisions. An international seminar will be held next May in Colombia to reflect and take action on this issue of common concern. All these projects have moved forward thanks to the additional support of the Ford Foundation.

We are glad to share with you as well that the Social Movement Working Group will hold its third Solidarity Visit and Mutual Learning Workshop in Brazil in 2010, thanks to the support of the American Jewish World Service.  We are also very excited to release the Social Movements and ESCR Video Documentary, which was filmed in Kenya. It centers on common challenges faced by social movements and successful examples of the use of the human rights framework by movements and grassroots groups.

The Network has also revitalized the Women and ESCR area to continue to address the gap in advocacy on women's ESCR through several projects focused on influencing UN bodies - specifically CEDAW and CESCR--including through the organization of a thematic briefing for the CEDAW Committee on women's ESCR in January 2010. We have also remained active in capacity-building in the use of budget analysis to identify violations of socio-economic rights, focused this year in Latin America.

Finally, on the issue of the relocation of the Secretariat, initial research on the economic benefits of moving the office to the Global South has been conducted. If funding is maintained at the same level, we have found that relocation opens a real possibility of increasing the working capacity of ESCR-Net. The ESCR-Net Board and Secretariat are currently evaluating these findings and holding the necessary conversations to define the next steps, which we will eventually inform to mermbership.

We invite you to view the December 2009 ESCR-Net Newsletter in English | Spanish | French. As always, we want to thank you for your active participation as a member of ESCR-Net. Your continued commitment to the collective work has been indispensable to all of these accomplishments. We hope that you will continue to be involved in this global forum of social justice and human rights' activists across borders of discipline, region and language-so necessary in an evermore complex and interconnected world.

In solidarity and support,

ESCR-Net Board


Mr. Hossam Bahgat
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (Egypt)

Ms. Julie Cavanaugh-Bill
Western Shoshone Defense Project-WSDP (Newe Sogobia/United States)

Ms. Shanthi Dairiam
International Women's Rights Action Watch -Asia Pacific (Malaysia)

Mr. Renji George Joseph
Alliance for Holistic and Sustainable Development of Communities (India)

Mr. Legborsi Saro Pyagbara
Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People-MOSOP (Nigeria)

Mr. Wilder Sánchez Chávez
Confederación Campesina del Perú-CCP (Perú)

Ms. Aye Aye Win
Dignity International (France)