Report by UN expert on the impacts of structural adjustment policies and austerity measures

On 1 March 2017, at the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, the UN Independent Expert on the Human Rights effects of Foreign Aid and Public Debt, presented a report on the impact of structural adjustment policies and austerity measures on labour rights.

The report emphasizes that labour market deregulation and the weakening of collective bargaining structures have been wrongly viewed by many states as a means to prevent or overcome economic and debt crises. Such measures have also been used as conditionalities in international lending agreements with the IMF, World Bank and European Commission.

Such policies however have not reached their desired effects. The report shows that there is no empirical evidence to support the idea that such reforms positively impact employment and economic growth. Instead, they have often had adverse economic consequences, and they have frequently contributed to an increase in inequality and insecure and informal employment.

They have also fostered discrimination in the labour market towards youth, older persons and individuals belonging to marginalized social groups, and have resulted in the reduction of job-related social protection. The report includes several recommendations to prevent economic reforms from undermining labour rights – fundamental human rights. The report can be found in all UN languages here.