Feb 4, 2013
6:30pm - 8:00pm    |    Lipton Hall, 108 West Third street, New York, NY 10012

This year the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) celebrates its 20th anniversary. 2013 also marks two decades since the historic Vienna Declaration, which reaffirmed the interdependence and equal standing of all human rights. On the occasion of this double anniversary, CESR and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice invite you to a panel event and reception examining progress in the field of economic and social rights over the last two decades and exploring challenges that lie ahead.

The event will hear from leading figures associated with CESR on the advances that have been made in the field of economic and social rights over the last two decades, and how strategies have evolved to tackle new and emerging challenges.


Philip Alston (Professor of Law, New York University; Faculty Director, CHRGJ) ; Alicia Ely Yamin (Director of the Program on the Health Rights of Women and Children at the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard); Manuel José Cepeda (Universidad de los Andes and former judge of the Constitutional Court of Colombia); Irene Khan (Director General, International Development Law Organization); Chris Jochnick (Director, Private Sector Engagement, Oxfam America); Carin Norberg (former Director of the Nordic Africa Institute); Ignacio Saiz, Executive Director of CESR.

For full bios, see here.

A twin anniversary: a prompt for reflection on where next for economic and social rights

Founded in 1993, CESR was one of the first international human rights organizations to focus specifically on economic and social rights. Since then it has pioneered efforts to promote their recognition and enforcement worldwide.

Over the last two decades, the Center has exposed economic and social rights abuses in the context of oil exploitation in the Amazon and Niger Delta, economic sanctions in Iraq, military intervention in Afghanistan, unjust tax policy in Guatemala and austerity measures in Spain and Ireland. CESR has been a leading voice calling for human rights responses to the global financial and economic crises. It advocates forcefully for human rights to be at the core of future international development commitments beyond the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals. It also works with human rights activists and practitioners around the globe to promote strategic use of national and international accountability mechanisms, and to strengthen their capacity to monitor and advocate for public policies that respect, protect and fulfill economic and social rights. CESR has been a catalyst for ESC rights advocacy by others, with CESR projects becoming independent ESC rights organizations in several countries and leading to the creation of the International Network on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) with member organizations in 67 countries. CESR itself plays a leading role in global advocacy networks on issues ranging from the post-2015 development agenda to financial regulation.

1993 marked another critical milestone for economic and social rights. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which resulted from the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, was a turning point for human rights, strongly affirming a global commitment to the realization of all categories of human rights and explicitly recognizing the links between poverty and human rights. Much has been achieved since the Declaration, with economic and social rights increasingly enshrined in constitutions and domestic law and a broader array of national and international mechanisms for their enforcement. Significant strides forward have been made in deepening human rights-based approaches to development. Yet today´s world is still plagued by widespread poverty, large-scale economic and social rights deprivations and growing inequality, particularly in the wake of the recent financial, fuel and food crises. What new strategies are needed to bridge the yawning gap between the normative recognition of ESC rights and their enforcement in practice? And what needs to be done to ensure that the tools of economic and social rights are in the hands of those who need them most?

Marking these twin anniversaries, CESR and CHRGJ are bringing together an esteemed panel of experts to reflect on these and other challenges facing the human rights movement in realizing the Vienna vision and making economic and social rights a reality in a radically changed global context.

Valid ID and RSVP are required for this event. If you are interested in attending, please contact CESR Communications Coordinator Luke Holland at rsvp@cesr.org. The event will be followed by a brief reception.


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