Plenary Sessions Overview

Plenary 1
ESCR-Net: Work to Date and Future Direction  


The purpose of this opening session is 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 as well as what needs remain unmet. This plenary will provide a succinct and critical assessment of the Network’s work to date, with the ultimate goal of strategizing on its future direction. In particular, the plenary seeks to illuminate: (i) advances, opportunities and challenges in each area of work; (ii) how collective action has contributed and can contribute to the development of each area, including key obstacles and how to overcome them and; iii) new functions and/or areas of work that should be developed within the network to better respond to current needs in each area.


Presentations in this panel will be delivered by a representative of each area of work and will be based upon the Assessment and Strategy Papers prepared for this occasion to inform and enrich discussions on the future direction of ESCR-Net. These papers were sent to participants prior to the meeting and/or handed out with the Welcome Package.


Chair: Miloon Kothari, Former Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, India.



§          Brief Report on the development of ESCR-Net to date and the state of the field

Julieta Rossi, Executive Director of ESCR-Net                               

§          Adjudication of ESCR

Malcolm Langford, Norwegian Centre on Human Rights, University of Oslo, Norway and Hakijamii, Kenya

§          Corporate Accountability

Tricia Feeney, Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID), UK


§          Trade, Finance, Investment and Human Rights

Areli Sandoval, Equipo Pueblo, Mexico


§          Budget Analysis and ESCR

Ann Blyberg, International Human Rights Internship Program (IHRIP), USA


§          Social Movements and ESCR

Renji G. Joseph, Alliance for Holistic and Sustainable Development of Communities, India


§          Women and ESCR

Leilani Farha, Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodations, Canada

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 aims 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. The session has two main objectives.  First, to provide the space to build dialogue between participating social movements and NGOs to enhancing solidarity with and mobilizing support between social movements and grassroots groups and professional advocacy and documentation NGO partners. Second, the session will provide the basis for determining concrete steps of how ESCR-Net can be an ongoing and sustainable channel of solidarity and support for social movements, indigenous and grassroots groups.


This plenary will start with a video that illustrates the work of some of the participating movements and grassroots groups. This will give an idea to the participants of who these groups are, and the struggles they face in their own context. Presentations will then be offered from four groups regarding specific examples of mutual support, collective actions, or collaborations with NGOs and academic institutions. Presenters will reflect on the form and content of the collaboration that has been most effective, as well as discuss challenges or frustrations that may have hindered or limited constructive collaboration – drawing out lessons for future collaborative efforts both between individual groups and as a collective within ESCR-Net.


Chair: Suzanne Shende, Comité de Emergencia Garífuna, Honduras.   



§          Marlon Santi, Pueblo Originario Kichwa de Sarayaku / Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas de Ecuador—CONAIE, Ecuador

§          Pratin Wekawakyanon, Assembly of the Poor, Thailand

§          Lucas Benitez, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, USA

§          Ezekiel Rema, Slum Dwellers Federation, Kenya


Discussion Questions for Break-out Sessions

After the presentations, participants will break into smaller tables and will be asked to focus on answering the following questions:


§          Building on the presentations, are there other examples or models of collaboration between social movements and NGOs that would be worth considering?  What challenges or obstacles have impeded collaborations?  What elements have led to effective collaborations, collective actions, or solidarity efforts? 

§          ESCR-Net ideally opens the possibility for both broader and more sustained collaborations between social movements and NGOs; what types of collaboration, collective action or solidarity is ESCR-Net best positioned to facilitate?

§          What potential obstacles or challenges might ESCR-Net face in attempting to mobilize support or collective action? 

§          What principles and processes should be followed in initiating and implementing collaboration (ideally to overcome obstacles perceived by social movements and/or NGOs)? 

§          Are there certain priority mechanisms or capabilities that should be developed (letters of solidarity, media work, a database of legal and advocacy resources, etc.)? 

Plenary 3


Accountability: Expanding the Scope and Creating New Tools


With the increased impacts of global economic forces and agreements on the realization of human rights locally, the scope of human rights accountability has been expanding and moving from a strict focus on the state to a more comprehensive consideration of the responsibilities of non-state actors.  Correspondingly, there has been a movement to expand the scope of accountability beyond a narrow focus on domestic obligations, particularly with respect to the capacity for progressive realization, to a consideration of extra-territorial obligations. In addition, in recent years as the scope of accountability has been expanding, there have been a number of initiatives aimed at using more quantitative tools and an understanding of the economic and social framework for monitoring the protection and progressive realization of ESCR. Furthermore, a new and promising mechanism at the international level, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will be available for victims of ESCR violations, hopefully soon. This panel seeks to illuminate this shift in our understanding of accountability, the progress as well as challenges, and new tools, mechanisms and strategies for implementing rights and enhancing accountability.


Chair: Steve Ouma, University of Western Cape, formerly of Kenya Human Rights Commission




§          Responsibility of Non-State Actors and ESCR Violations

Danwood Chirwa, University of Cape Town, South Africa


§          Extraterritorial Obligations: conceptual developments in theory and in practice

Michael Windfuhr, Bread for the World, Germany


§          A new multidisciplinary methodology to assess violations of ESCR

Eitan Felner, Centre for Economic and Social Rights, Spain


§          Monitoring social policies from a rights-based approach: lessons learnt and challenges encountered 

Pilar Arcidiácono, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, Argentina


§          The Optional Protocol to the ICESCR: a major step towards international accountability for ESCR’s violations?

Magdalena Sepulveda, UN Independent Expert on Extreme Poverty & International Council on Human Rights Policy, Switzerland
Working Group(s):