Back to What's in this Issue?

ESCR-Net is Announcing the Formation of a New Working Group on Monitoring of ESCR! 

Important gains have been made over the last decade in advancing the normative content and judicial enforceability of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR). Governments around the world have also made unprecedented pledges to combat extreme poverty and related human rights deprivations in adopting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  Yet the alarming gap between these formal commitments and the state of ESCR in practice calls for increased attention from the human rights community to the policy failures hindering the fulfilment of these rights. Monitoring public policies in the socio-economic sphere from a human rights perspective is a challenge for civil society organizations and social movement activists, as well as for international human rights bodies and well-intentioned policy makers.

In recent years, civil society organizations, social movements, academics and international bodies have proposed a number of initiatives to overcome the challenge of rights-based policy monitoring, including formulating indicators, benchmarking, indexing and conducting budget analysis. These strands of work have to some extent developed in parallel, and there have been limited opportunities for sharing experiences across fields of practice. Many civil society activists working at the national level, including many Members of ESCR-Net, have rich experience and expertise in using rights-based policy monitoring methods in specific advocacy contexts. Yet their experiences may not be amplified or disseminated internationally. Conversely, initiatives developed internationally may not always be widely known in all regions nor empirically tested and practically applied.

At the ESCR-Net International Strategy Meeting in Nairobi (December 2008), Network Members emphasized the importance of strengthening ESCR monitoring and documentation efforts and providing opportunities to develop and share tools for this purpose.  Since that meeting, the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and other Network Members, who are working on monitoring methods at both the global and national level, have expressed an interest in creating a space within the Network to share, disseminate and further develope experiences and methods. 

Accordingly, CESR,  the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA, Thailand), la Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ, Argentina), Economic and Social Rights Centre (Hakijamii, Kenya), Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL, USA), Centro de Análisis e Investigación (FUNDAR, Mexico), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS, Argentina), Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (INESC, Brazil), Aoife Nolan, professor at University of Nottingham (UK) and Duncan Wilson, Head of Strategy and Legal at the Scottish Human Rights Commission (UK) are proposing the establishment of a working group on ESCR monitoring within ESCR-Net as a forum in which practitioners can more systematically exchange experiences of using various methods to more holistically assess State action and inaction from the perspective of the State’s ESCR obligations in different contexts.

Monitoring is an activity that underpins many areas of work that the Network carries out, and this working group will provide a space for mutual guidance; generation of innovative tools and resources to address specific challenges; promotion of accessible and holistic approaches to ESCR monitoring; and capacity-building for Network Members to more effectively monitor ESCR compliance.

The working group will be open to all interested Members of ESCR-Net. It will be supported by a core group of ESCR-Net Member NGOs and individuals coordinated by CESR and the ESCR-Net Secretariat. A discussion group for this working group has been established.  Please email if you are interested in joining. 

For more information on how to get involved, contact Rebecca Brown,, and Allison Corkery,