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AI members only AI Index: POL50/010/2002
Distr: SC, CC
1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW
To: All Sections
From: ISP Committee and ESCR Working Group
Date: August 2002
This document is an addendum to the ISP Toolkit 2 already circulated [POL50/008/2002]. This addendum comes from the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Working Group (ESCR WG).
To all Section Directors and Section Chairs
July 2002July 2002
2004 – 2010
Globalizing Justice Globalizing Justice
ESC Working Group contribution to Human Rights Strategy, Goal VI of the ISP: Work for socio-economic justice. Please insert in the ISP Plan that you will circulate, either in the text or as an addendum. An updated version of the Plan will be found on the database: http://www.web.amnesty.org/isp/isp.nsf
the username is isp
and the password is endplan2003
Please comment as part of your response to the Draft One ISP by November 15, 2002.
VI. WORK FOR SOCIO-ECONOMIC JUSTICE VI. WORK FOR SOCIO-ECONOMIC JUSTICE
Increase in social and economic insecurity of majority of worlds population
Widening gap between rich and poor, aggravated by declining investment in LDCs and unfair trade policies
Insufficient aid, unsustainable debt burden on poor countries, non-enforcement of core labour standards
Greater recognition that poverty and global inequities must be addressed, emergence of global social movements to this end.
AI is committed to working on ESC rights. It should do so in a way that underscores the intrinsic worth of these rights. Criteria are needed in order to make decisions on where AI ought to focus its concern in this area. Such criteria might include:
Gravity of abuse
Link to AI’s mission (from current statute - discrimination, freedom of conscience, physical integrity), and to AI’s commitment to universality
Indivisibility - can work be done on this issue in a way that emphasises the indivisibility of rights? In particular, can we make links to AI’s existing work?
AI’s capacity to work on the issue - this includes questions of institutional expertise, but also the degree to which the ESC rights abuse is familiar to AI or at least linked to previous work
AI ability to have an impact - what added value will AI bring? Will campaigning make a difference?
Victim focus - Is the issue one that can be demonstrated through individual stories?
In undertaking work on ESC rights, AI should adopt an approach that demonstrates the indivisibility and inter-dependence of rights. That is, rather than singling out one or two ESC rights (e.g. education or health) it makes more sense to focus its work on particular issues where ESC rights are crucial and on particular groups of people that are especially vulnerable to abuse of ESC rights.
The Working Group proposes that, for the current plan, AI focus on ESC rights abuses against excluded or marginalised communities that suffer systematic and severe deprivation of ESC rights . In other words, those living in extreme poverty and unable to enjoy even the bare minimum of protection.
These marginalised communities face many problems. One key problem (as seen from the rights perspective) is that they are unable to assert or claim their rights, because:
The law, policies and practice prevents them from doing so
State institutions are absent
State, and non-state actors are unresponsive to their needs
The poor themselves see the state as the problem, and do not approach its institutions to find a solution.
This problem of access to rights has substantive and procedural aspects. In substance the marginalised do not enjoy many of the most basic rights (indeed, the fact that they do not is one way of defining their marginalisation). Procedurally, their exclusion often is maintained through discriminatory processes. A human rights approach must first and foremost enable marginalised communities to claim their rights.
For the poor, denials of access to rights touch on ESC and CIV/POL rights. For example, the poor cannot access their rights to
land and other resources
essential services such as education, health care and housing
At the same time, they have no access to
courts or other state institutions (to assert their rights)
legal protection (against private abuse)
equality before the law - or even recognition as legal persons with the right to assert rights
These access issues are inter-linked. Denial of ESC rights is linked to inability to assert civil and political rights.
In this work, AI would demand accountability from state institutions. Techniques here would be familiar ones -- focussing on law and the operation of state institutions, and notions of accountability. The issue of arbitrariness would come to the fore-- the law operates in ways that are unfair to the most poor and vulnerable.
The role of other actors in committing or contributing to abuses would be important and AI would be both demanding that the state offered protection from "private" abuse, and insisting on the accountability of other actors (companies, international financial institutions etc.).
1.Are you satisfied that this is the appropriate approach to Amnesty International’s ESC work over the period of the ISP?
File:slt-int escrwg isp.doc
Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street, WC1X 0DW, London, United Kingdom