Visualizing Rights: Fact Sheet Series (2014)

Prior to Spain’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in front of the U.N. Human Rights Council, the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) highlighted the effect of austerity measures on a number of populations in Spain, making specific mention in the areas of poverty and inequality, the right to health, the use of taxes, and the right to an adequate standard of living.

Monitoring Techniques Used

The Fact Sheet is intended to contribute to the ongoing work of UN and other intergovernmental human rights mechanisms to monitor Spain’s compliance with their economic, social and cultural rights obligations. It is also intended to contribute to strengthening the monitoring and advocacy capabilities of national and international civil society organizations. Drawing on the latest available socioeconomic data, the fact sheet displays, analyzes and interprets selected quantitative indicators in light of key dimensions of governments’ economic and social rights obligations.

Summary of Findings

A newly-published CESR fact sheet illustrates the role Spain’s fiscal austerity policies have played in driving poverty and inequality in the country. The harsh impact of these retrogressive measures has been particularly felt among the most disadvantaged sectors, including women, children, older persons, people with disabilities and migrants.

As CESR’s rigorous statistical analysis shows, four years of successive cuts in public spending have seriously undermined social services and social protection in the country.  Some 13 million people are now at risk of poverty and social exclusion in Spain - three million more than when the economic crisis first hit. Child poverty rates have escalated, while the gap between rich and poor is widening so fast that Spain is now one of the most unequal countries in Europe.

Advocacy and Impact

A host of recommendations were proposed to Spain in order to address issues raised during its UPR. The recommendations centered on a number of areas, including racial and gender discrimination and violence, xenophobia, migrant rights, and youth employment. Further, it was recommended Spain review and modify the policies which restrict access to health and education, especially for vulnerable groups. As an interesting note, no recommendations were given to address the issue of income inequality between top and bottom earners.

Further Reading

CESC, et al., "Joint Submission to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: On the occasion of the review of Spain´s 5th Periodic Report at the 48th Session," May 2012. Link to source; CESR, "Visualizing Rights: Fact Sheet No.12: Spain," 2012. Link to source.

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