November 29-December 5, 2008 International Strategy Meeting on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and ESCR-Net General Assembly: Nairobi, Kenya

View the Overall Summary Report
For full notes, see reports from each session below.

The Goals of the International Strategy Meeting and General Assembly

ESCR-Net, in partnership with the Kenyan ESCR Coalition, held a four-day International Strategy Meeting of its Members and active participants in Nairobi, Kenya, from December 1 to 4, 2008. This landmark gathering brought together more than 250 key human rights, social justice and grassroots’ activists from 53 countries around the world (See list of participants). Building on the collective achievements of ESCR-Net and its Members since its Inaugural Conference in Thailand in 2003, as well as the strong trajectory of local Kenyan organizations, this meeting was a significant occasion to explore new and more systematic avenues for collective action for social and economic justice through human rights. Participants in ESCR-Net’s Working Groups and Initiatives benefited significantly from meeting together—in one location with interpretation and preparation—to network, strategize and advance their collective agendas.

The gathering also represented a crucial step forward in strengthening ESCR-Net’s institutional capacity to influence decision-making processes regarding state and non-state accountability for the implementation of socio-economic rights. At the meeting, Members set ESCR-Net’s priorities for the coming years, elected a new Board, and defined criteria and procedures to launch solidarity actions, among other institutional decisions.

This meeting presented as well a valuable opportunity to support and learn from ongoing mobilizing efforts of local organizations and communities affected by economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) violations in Kenya and the African region.

Background Documents, Agenda, and List of Participants
1.  Briefing Document
2.  Agenda of the Full Meeting
3.  Plenary Sessions Overview
4.  Agendas from the Working Sessions
5.  Governance Discussions Memos
6.  List of Participants

Plenary Sessions

Plenary sessions provided the main space for all the participants in the Strategy Meeting to come together as a group to learn about and discuss developments in the field of ESCR – and within the network. View reports from the Plenaries: 

Report from Plenary 1: ESCR-Net: Work to Date and Future Direction
The purpose of this opening session was to provide an overview of the development of the Network, highlighting the current areas of collective work and how this work has responded to the needs in the field of ESCR and what remains unmet.
Report from Plenary 2: Building a Bottom-Up Network of Mutual Support and Collective Action
Led by representatives from social movements, indigenous and grassroots groups, this session aimed to build a platform to establish collaboration in sustainable solidarity and support actions between social movements, grassroots and indigenous groups as well as NGOs and other professional organizations.
Report from Plenary 3: Accountability: Expanding the Scope and Creating New Tools
This plenary sought to illuminate the shift in our understanding of accountability, discussing the progress as well as challenges, and new tools, mechanisms and strategies for implementing rights and enhancing accountability.

Working Sessions
The working sessions provided the space for substantive, working meetings of different ESCR-Net Working Groups and Initiatives to convene and advance their ongoing collective projects and advocacy work. Reflecting their current activities and plans of operation, these sessions were organized by Members in cooperation with the Secretariat.  In general terms, each of these groups held discussions and exchanges to both advance their existing agendas and define them for the years ahead.  Two new potential areas of work were identified and developed: the Right to Health and Women and ESCR.  These seven sets of working sessions represented the most significant component of the overall International Strategy Meeting on ESCR.
View the report and additional resources for the Working Sessions:
1. Adjudication of ESCR
2. Optional Protocol to the ICESCR
3. Budget Analysis and ESCR
4. Corporate Accountability
5. Trade, Investment, Finance and Human Rights
6. Human Right to Health
7. Women and ESCR

Social Movements and Grassroots Gathering

Three full days of meetings were jointly organized by social movements and grassroots and indigenous groups to surround the International Strategy Meeting and ESCR-Net General Assembly on 29-30 November, and 5 December.  Comprised of over 25 groups around the world, the objectives of this gathering were to: 

Led by the Nairobi Peoples’ Settlement Network, Kenyan social movements further organized a set of 2008 Solidarity Visits in which participants exchanged experiences, celebrated grassroots-led advocacy efforts, highlighted achievements and challenges, and explored opportunities for future joint actions and networking with three communities across Nairobi.

View the report and additional resources: 
Social Movement and Grassroots Gathering Sessions 

In addition, a blog project was open to all participants at the beginning of the Social Movements and Grassroots Gathering and continued  throughout the International Strategy Meeting and General Assembly, as a space to share photos, video, and commentary about experiences, solidarity, and strategies.

ESCR-Net General Assembly
The General Assembly, an essential component of the event, allowed Members to discuss and decide a number of governance issues critical to strengthening the Network’s institutional capacity and elect the new Board.

The following decisions and declarations were adopted by the General Assembly:
1.  The new ESCR-Net Board
2.  The Nairobi Declaration

View the reports from the Governance Sessions:
Report from Governance Session 1: ESCR-Net Future Development and Key Functions

Open Spaces Sessions
These sessions allowed participants to organize informal gatherings to present their work or debate other issues of interest that had not been included in the other sessions.  To read more about these sessions, click here

Community Visits 
Based on the input and ideas generated by the Kenyan ESCR Coalition, a series of visits to different communities were interwoven into the gathering to provide an opportunity to learn about and to support the work that local organizations are undertaking in the field of ESCR.  To read more, click here.


Press Articles


View the press generated from the International Strategy Meeting:
Press Articles

To contribute additional input, please contact the ESCR-Net Secretariat.