Social rights – lost in austerity?

Making economic policies within the European Union compatible with international human rights obligations

On 19 May, the International Trade Union Confederation, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and European Trade Union Institute co-organised a policy debate on the impact of EU economic policies on international human rights obligations. The meeting featured a presentation by Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, UN Expert of Human Rights and Foreign Debt, who summarised the key findings of two recent reports on the policy response by the European Union to the sovereign debt crisis (A/HRC/34/57/Add.1) and on the impact of structural adjustment and fiscal consolidation policies on labour rights (A/HRC/34/57). Mr. Bohoslavsky’s presentation highlighted that structural reform policies and austerity measures promoted by the EU under the justification of restoring debt sustainability and macroeconomic stability have often been done without due regard for international human rights standards, including labour rights. Mr. Bohoslavsky made several policy recommendations for going forward, including social rights impact assessments of structural reforms as well as ex-post evaluations, and invited participants to contribute to an ongoing call for contributions for the development of human rights impact assessment guidelines for economic reforms. His intervention was followed by reactions from policymakers, trade union representatives and civil society including Ruth Paserman, Deputy Head of Cabinet for European Commissioner Marianne Thyssen; Olivier De Schutter, Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Monserrat Mir Roca, Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation; Patricia Scherer, Management Committee Member of the European Social Platform; Irene Wintermayr, Policy Officer at the ILO-Brussels Office; and Bela Galgoczi, Senior Researcher at the European Trade Union Institute. Interventions were also made by the International Trade Union Confederation and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. A summary of the discussion can be found in the final meeting report.

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Social rights – lost in austerity? - Report
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Social rights – lost in austerity? - Programme
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