The report “Bringing Human Rights to Bear in Times of Crisis: A human rights analysis of government responses to the economic crisis” was submitted as a shadow report to the High-Level Segment of 13th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the global economic and financial crises (March 2010).
Written about two years since the start of the largest financial meltdown and global economic recession in over fifty years, the report asks: how have our governments responded to this crisis in such a way as to uphold people’s fundamental dignity and human rights?
ESCR-Net participants developed a questionnaire to engage civil society in determining how governments were meeting their human rights obligations in their economic policies and to generate reflection and input from a broad community of social justice activists. The questionnaire was based on a statement developed last year by ESCR-Net members in which almost 300 organizations and individuals called for a response to the financial crisis and economic recession that places human rights norms at the center, in which people and the environment, not banks or business, are at the foundation of economic policy-making, The questionnaire presented 8 broad questions on fiscal and monetary economic measures taken by governments since the start of the economic crisis in the mid-2007 relating to economic stimulus packages, tax policy reforms, social protection programs, financial measures and international dimensions of the crisis. The information, views and recommendations presented in this report are derived from the responses to that questionnaire, along with complementary research conducted on specific measures and country responses.
The report aims to deepen our understanding of how governments have conducted themselves and how effective economic policies have been in defending and strengthening the enjoyment of human rights in a time of multiple and interlocking social and economic crises.
Authoring organizations, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, the Center of Concern, Center for Economic and Social Rights, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, provided views and recommendations to the 13th session of the Human Rights Council during its High-Level Segment on the impact of the global economic and financial crises to the realization of all human rights and on possible actions required to alleviate it. By analyzing government responses to the crisis from a human rights perspective and sharing best and worst practices in responding to the crisis, this report provides a window into how governments’ actions worldwide have lived up to, or let down, their human rights obligations. The report also aims to contribute to the development, strengthening, implementation and monitoring of economic policies which make human rights real in the global economy, by both confronting head-on this enduring crisis and by preventing another collapse.