The Nairobi Declaration

Adoptedby the 2nd General Assembly of ESCR Net

1 - 5 December 2008, Nairobi, Kenya

We, the social movement leaders and members of organizations from all corners of the world working on economic, social and cultural rights, gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, from  December 1-5, in the context of the 2nd International Strategy Meeting on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the 2nd ESCR-Net General Assembly,

We reaffirm the points and principles embodied in the Lanna Declaration agreed upon in the Inaugural Conference and 1st General Assembly of ESCR Net in Chaing Mai, Thailand in 2003. In addition we pronounce the following points.

The basic foundations for peoples' survival, livelihoods and well-being-the land, waters, forests and natural ecosystems -are under severe threat from a global economic system of unrelenting consumption and greed. This has resulted in human life changing in an accelerated fashion, with the imposition of a model of exaggerated consumerism.  Governments have looked greedily at the markets for "bio-fuels," and created subsidies and tax-free provisions for this "attractive business" putting at risk our bio-diversity, food security, earth, water, and culture. These inter-linked social, economic, environmental and climate crisis pose unprecedented challenges for humanity.

Concerned by rapid depletion of the earth's natural resources; lack of control of these resources by communities living in or using the impacted areas; growing dispossession of land; widespread forced evictions; lack of access to adequate housing; insecurity of land tenure; rising food prices and threats to food security; global warming; environmental degradation and risks to biodiversity; lack of prospects for livelihood opportunities; lack of access to basic services including water, sanitation, access to health care, education, and basic conditions to live in dignity, including for differently-abled people; and overall growing inequalities around the world:

We believe that:

1) The global economic system and trade regime commodifies the earth's natural and human resources for corporate and private gain, promotes exaggerated consumerism and puts corporate profits before people, denying indigenous peoples, fisher-folk, farmers, and local communities their economic, social and cultural rights;

2) structural violence and growing militarization serve to secure, protect and perpetuate corporate interests;

 3) the imbalance in power relations and deep rooted social, economic, and political structures perpetuate and further enrich the already powerful and wealthy while impoverishing the already weak and marginalized peoples;

4) These factors have led to growing inequality - particularly for the Indigenous, women, Afro-descendants, Pastoralists, small farmers, fisher-folks, workers, children - insecurity, vulnerability and fundamental attacks on the basic human rights of a majority of the peoples worldwide.

This failing global political economy, and the emerging legal architecture and commitments on climate and environment, call for an enhancement of ESCR's vision to achieve economic and social justice to encompass environmental and climate justice lest they become new instruments for the further impoverishment, marginalization and abuse of human rights of indigenous peoples and local communities and uphold the Zero tolerance principle on the violations of economic, social, and cultural rights  around the world, grounding de-facto solidarity with the affected members of society.

We call on:

1) Our governments worldwide to:

Establish the primacy of human rights - to ensure that international human rights law takes primacy over growing international trade agreements, and that international human rights standards are respected in development of other laws including trade and environmental laws. 

2) The Kenyan state to respond to Kenyan communities', groups' and activists' calls to:

  • a) Adopt policies and establish of frameworks that monitor and regulate the allocation and use of land;
  • b) Halt evictions;
  • c) Formulate and enact participatory processes, guidelines and legislation strictly defining safeguards and remedies, including adequate compensation for alteration in the livelihood, life, and housing for each victim of displacement;
  • d) Create employment opportunities and programs for youth and especially support young women to pursue higher learning in universities, colleges and other tertiary institutions;
  • e) Establish programs, community centers, and other facilities, that will help curb and respond to practices that degrade and harm women and girls including those that promote reproductive health education;
  • f) Ensure the provision, accessibility and affordability of basic social services, for instance; clean water for drinking, decent housing, sanitation -- accessible to the differently-abled, education, and health care.

3) The ESCR-Net General Assembly to:

  • a) Ensure active participation and leadership of the social movements in the Network activities and governance;
  • b) Establish a dependable and accountable system of solidarity actions and emergency support within the Network;
  • c) Support joint actions including: the social movement video project; joint global campaigns support for local campaigns; training for research and documentation; people to people exchanges; interlocutor between the social movements and i.e., the United Nations human rights system.

Participants have committed themselves by acclaim to uphold the contents of this Declaration and to set up follow-up mechanisms that will make the contents of this Declaration come to fruition.

Working Group Description: