Collaborative Platform on Social and Economic Rights explores tools to counter negative impacts of austerity on human rights

Small group discussion on the effects of austerity measures on human rights at the Platform meeting, 10 April 2019

At the 8th meeting of the CoE-FRA-ENNHRI-Equinet Collaborative Platform on Social and Economic Rights Athens on 10 April 2019, representatives of the Platform, as well as civil society, discussed how European and international tools can be used at the national level to address the human rights implications of austerity measures.

One notable example is the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights Impact Assessments of Economic Reform, which was introduced by the UN independent expert on the effects of foreign debt, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, calling on European human rights partners to endorse them.

He presented the Guiding Principles as a new tool for mitigating possible human rights violations resulting from austerity measures. The Principles set out a special role for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in their implementation.

In his commentary on the Guiding Principles, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky describes a ‘functioning system of national, regional and international human rights accountability mechanisms, including independent and empowered national human rights institutions’, as ‘critical’ to ensuring access to justice, accountability and remedies.

At the meeting, he called on NHRIs to use the Guiding Principles in their work, act as effective accountability mechanisms and ensure access to justice for those individuals whose rights have been violated as a result of austerity measures.

An example of how the approach advocated in the Guiding Principles could be implemented by an NHRI is reflected in a research report on the cumulative impact on living standards of public spending changes published by the NHRI of Great Britain, which looks at the negative impacts of economic reforms in England, Scotland and Wales. The report provides policy recommendations for alleviating the negative effects and improving data for impact assessment.

» Download the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights Impact Assessments of Economic Reform
» Learn more about the CoE-FRA-ENNHRI-Equinet Collaborative Platform on Social and Economic Rights