Initiative on Inequality, the Global Economy, and Human Rights

In 2015, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice launched the Initiative on Inequality, the Global Economy, and Human Rights to critically examine the role of international human rights law in regulating the global economy and in countering its tendency to exacerbate inequalities.

We live in an increasingly transnational and staggeringly unequal world. The surge in cross-border investments by multinational companies, the vast chasm that has opened between the global elite and the world’s poorest populations, and the explosion of global communication and information technologies all challenge state-centered conceptions of community and approaches to regulation.

The growing gap between the rich and the poor within and between countries has spurred outcry from nearly all corners. Protesters have taken to the streets across the globe, from Zuccotti Park to Tahrir Square, denouncing disparity and demanding democracy. Headlines about the economic divide appear frequently in the press. Anti-poverty and development organizations have made tackling inequality paramount. Economists and political scientists have attracted attention with new studies on the causes and consequences of unequal wealth and income distribution. Policymakers facing these mounting pressures, have found it increasingly difficult to ignore the gulf between the “haves” and the “have nots”. Yet, in this rising chorus, the voices of human rights scholars and practitioners have been far from prominent.

By promoting research and scholarship at the intersection of the global economy and human rights, the Center seeks to enhance understanding of the structural causes of deepening inequalities, including the role of economic and fiscal policies. It also aims to strengthen community efforts to document the lived effects of those policies on the enjoyment of economic and social rights and to identify and reinforce channels of accountability for violations of those rights.

CHRGJ has a long record of working in the field of economic and social rights, on issues ranging from the rights to water, food, and livelihood, to the use of interdisciplinary legal and social science research to improve documentation of ESR violations. Throughout its work, it has consistently focused on the human rights obligations of powerful institutions and actors, such as donor governments and international financial institutions, in the face of deepening global inequalities. This Initiative on Inequality, the Global Economy, and Human Rights expands upon the Center’s past experience to deepen interdisciplinary dialogues and scholarship on these topics.

The Initiative's activities include:
  • Organizing an international conference on taxation and human rights, held in October 2016.
  • Convening interdisciplinary workshops that foster dialogue on the inequality dimensions of various contemporary human rights issues.
  • Coordinating the publication of a volume of new scholarship on these issues.
  • Hosting visiting fellows and student scholars-in-residence who are conducting research and writing on cutting-edge issues in economic and social rights.
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Related Pages

Tax and Human Rights
American Poverty and Human Rights
Economic and Social Rights

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