Safeguarding human rights in times of economic crisis. Issue Paper published by the Commissioner for Human Rights

Dezembro 17, 2013 às 6:00 am | Publicado em Divulgação, Estudos sobre a Criança | Deixe um comentário
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In 2012, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly expressed its concern about austerity measures and pointed out that “the restrictive approaches currently pursued, predominantly based on budgetary cuts in social expenditure, may not reach their objective of consolidating public budgets, but risk further deepening the crisis and undermining social rights as they mainly affect lower income classes and the most vulnerable categories of the population”.1

In times of crisis, governments may not immediately view human rights as relevant to the urgent task of rescuing the economy from the brink of collapse. But as the Commissioner for Human Rights has argued, “periods of financial dire straits should not be seen as emergency situations that automatically entail the curtailment of social and economic rights and the deterioration of the situation of vulnerable social groups. On the contrary, such periods of time should be viewed by states as windows of opportunity to overhaul their national human rights protection systems and reorganize their administration in order to build or reinforce the efficiency of national social security systems, including social safety nets that should be operational when necessary”.2

This Issue Paper outlines the human rights consequences of austerity measures implemented across Europe in the wake of the global financial and economic crises, and provides supportive guidance to the member states of the Council of Europe for upholding their human rights and equality duties in times of economic constraint. The Issue Paper sets out a series of concrete recommendations for human rights-compliant responses to the crisis and addresses the important and unique role of national human rights structures in ensuring that human rights are safeguarded in the crisis context.

Chapter 1 of this Issue Paper provides a short account of some of the impacts nof the economic crisis and austerity measures on the enjoyment of human rights in Europe.

Chapter 2 presents the human rights norms and standards most relevant in times of economic downturn and recovery.

Chapter 3 provides concrete guidance on how to effectively implement these norms in practice, thereby illustrating how human rights law can help to frame and shape the member states’ responses to the complex and urgent economic dilemmas  they face.

Chapter 4 concludes by outlining the significant role national human rights structures can play in monitoring and reviewing the design and implementation of austerity policies and in providing accountability for the infringements of human rights resulting from austerity.

The Commissioner’s recommendations can be found at the beginning of the document.

1. PACE, Resolution 1884, “Austerity measures – a danger for democracy and social rights”, 26 June 2012.

2. The Commissioner’s Report on Portugal, CommDH(2012)22, p. 15.

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