Economic Policy and Human Rights

Economic Policy and Human Rights


Economic policy formation should be a people-centered exercise that reflects the human rights principles of transparency, accountability, non-discrimination and participation, resulting in policies that progressively and universally fulfill the human rights of all people based on individual States’ maximum available resources and through international assistance and co-operation.  The Economic Policy and Human Rights Working Group (EP&HR WG) works collectively to influence the process of economic policy formation, while providing strategic support to groups affected by existing policies with the ultimate aim of wider systemic change. 


  • Collectively build coherent and consistent human rights critiques of dominant economic models to align them with human rights obligations
  • Raise the awareness and understanding among Government and organizational organisations of how human rights principles can improve economic policies, including their formation and implementation
  • Ensure far greater inclusion of national and grassroots level inputs into the debates that inform economic policy development, strengthening capacity of and exchange between  groups that are usually excluded from the economic policy development process


Facilitating a shared analysis and collective voice, particularly among those who have not benefitted from current policies, to advocate for the primacy of human rights in international economic policy formation will align the outcomes more closely with the needs of all people.  Mutual learning and capacity-building will demystify economic policy as solely the domain of ‘experts’, while connecting and amplifying the perspectives of those working to secure the human rights and collective well-being of their families, communities and the wider world.


The Economic Policy and Human Rights Working Group has strengthened shared analysis of the economic crisis among ESCR-Net Members through in-depth studies, information sheets, and workshops on financial regulation, economic policy in agriculture, and extra-territorial obligations. The group has also worked to advance wider public awareness of human rights impacts through co-authoring a report on government responses to the economic crisis by the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, challenging the economic recovery plans of the US via a parallel submission during its UN Universal Periodic Review, and placing an editorial in The Economist.              


Collective Initiatives

Righting Financial Regulation

Policy Advocacy


Emblematic Cases

Paladin in Malawi


Join our Economic Policy and Human Rights Discussion Group

This discussion group is organized to facilitate information-sharing and collective efforts related to international trade, investment and economic policy as intersecting human rights, particularly economic, social, and cultural human rights. To join email:

Become a Member of the Network

Members are encouraged to propose projects and to develop the activities of Working Groups.  Members also have an important say in setting the overall priorities and direction for the Network, and may participate in General Assembly meetings, vote and run for the ESCR-Net Board. Find out more 

Collaborate with the Economic Policy and Human Rights Working Group on a initiative or a case

If you would like to collaborate with this Working Group on an initiative or an emblematic case please contact


Approximately 20 groups from North America, Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America are involved in the Working Group.  Recent collaborations to analyze causes of and responses to the global economic crisis and to propose alternative policies have been guided by the Center of Concern; Centre for Women’s Global Leadership; Center for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID); James Heintz (Professor at University of Massachusetts); and World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS).

View cases on the ESCR-Net Caselaw Database relating to Trade, Investment and Finance.

More Information: 

Dominic Renfrey (ESCR-Net Secretariat)