Assessing economic policies through a human rights lens
The Centre for Global Women Leadership (CGWL) recently released "Auditing Economic Policy for Human Rights", a guide that provides activists and advocates with alternatives to evaluating the effectiveness of macroeconomic policies through a human rights lens.
As the unequal distribution of wealth intensifies across the world, the guide disputes the prevailing mainstream framework, centered on evaluating macroeconomics policies according to how well they leave competitive markets alone, free from government impositions. Foremost, the guide questions the ability of the neoclassical model to clearly articulate and measure economic inequality and social well-being. This free market economy is leading to power imbalances, creating conditions of widespread unemployment and artificial financial crisis among other circumstances, which disproportionately harm the disenfranchised members of society.
On the contrary, the alternative framework proposed by CGWL positions human beings at the center of development and empowers them as “rights holders” while recognizing their role in influencing progressive economic policies. On the other hand, the framework imposes obligations to the State as a “duty bearer” entitled to respect, protect and fulfil human rights - including economic and social rights. The guide further emphasizes utilizing government policy instruments such as public spending, taxation, government borrowing, monetary policy and financial regulation objectively to improve the lives of the most marginalized rather than simply promoting faster growth.
As Collins Liko, Coordinator of ESCR-Net Economic Policy Working Group says, “this guide validates the role of the human rights framework in promoting economic justice by ensuring non-discrimination in wealth distribution based on race, gender, social stratification and other dimensions.”
In order to serve as a strategic tool for advocates and activists in their pursuit of social justice, the guide sets a clear criteria to evaluate to what extent economic policies within a country are human rights compliant.