The Center for Economic and Social Rights celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Our founding task in 1993 was to bring down the wall between different categories of rights, and to bring human rights into the socio-economic sphere. 2013 also marks two decades since the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, which famously proclaimed that all human rights are indivisible, interrelated and of equal importance.
The Vienna Declaration and Platform of Action has to a large extent inspired CESR’s efforts to make economic and social rights a reality over a period marked by new socio-economic challenges, shifting patterns of power and widening inequality. For this reason CESR’s 20th anniversary events, which are presented in this specially-created website, are aimed at facilitating a reflection on progress made in implementing the economic and social rights commitments set out in the Vienna agenda and to explore key trends likely to shape ESC rights advocacy over the next two decades.
Ignacio Saiz, Executive Director
Taking stock of progress
Leading figures of the economic and social rights and development fields reflect on the progress made in the economic and social rights field over the past 20 years and the contribution of CESR to social justice struggles and development in the field.
Chris Jochnick, CESR co-founder and Director of Private Sector Engagement at Oxfam America, discusses the Center's early days and its major achievements since being set up in 1993. Mr Jochnick, a lecturer in business and human rights at Harvard Law School, is also co-founder and a director of the Ecuador-based Centro de Derechos Economicos y Sociales (CDES).
New School Professor of International Relations Sakiko Fukuda-Parr reflects on progress made in integrating human rights into social and economic policy-making and discusses the importance of incorporating these standards into the post-2015 development agenda. Ms Fukuda-Parr, a current member of CESR's board, was director of the UNDP's Human Development Reports from 1995 to 2004.
South African High Court Judge and CESR board member Geoff Budlender SC explains the importance of the Center's achievements over the past 20 years, with special reference to the African setting. Mr Budlender was one of the founders of the Legal Resources Centre, South Africa's leading public interest law centre, and Director-General of the Department of Land Affairs under the Mandela administration.
Richard Goldstone is Co-chairperson of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association and former first chief prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. In this interview he explains advances in the field of ESCR jurisprudence, and the particular experience of South Africa. He also elucidates the importance of the Ogoni case in Nigeria, which was led by CESR and its local partners SERAC.
Manuel José Cepeda
Constitutional lawyer and CESR board member Manuel José Cepeda, of the University of the Andes in Colombia, discusses the Center's contribution to advancing economic and social rights in both conceptual and instrumental terms. Mr Cepeda was Ambassador of Colombia to UNESCO (1993-1995) and thereafter to the Helvetic Confederation (1995-1996). He also served as Dean of the Universidad de los Andes Law School from 1996 to 2000.
Carin Norberg, Director of the Nordic Africa Institute and CESR board member, discusses the importance of the Center's work in an increasingly interlinked world. Since 1970, Ms Norberg has held various positions with the Swedish International Development Agency, including director, department for East and West Africa, director, department for humanitarian assistance and co-operation with NGOs, and director, department for democracy and social development.
Irene Khan is Director General of the International Development Law Organization and a member of CESR's board. Here she discusses CESR's contribution to the field, and the importance bridging gaps between the economic and social rights sphere and the broader social justice movement. Ms Khan previously worked for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in a variety of positions, including senior executive officer to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Twenty Years of Economic and Social Rights Advocacy
On 4 February 2013 CESR and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice hosted a panel event in New York University examining progress in the field of economic and social rights over the last two decades and exploring challenges that lie ahead. The event heard from leading figures associated with CESR on the advances that have been made in the field and how strategies have evolved to tackle new and emerging problems. A video recording of the meeting can be viewed below. The discussion begins after a short introductory clip presenting the Center's achievements and current work.