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A11 and CESR Prompt UN Committee to Scrutinize Austerity Measures in Serbia

Ahead of Serbia’s review this week before the Committee of Economic Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), A 11 – Initiative for Economic and Social Rights together with the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), submitted a joint report and a briefing commenting on the state’s obligation under Article 2(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). 

The joint report illustrates how the austerity measures introduced by the Republic of Serbia since 2014 violate the State’s human rights obligations. It substantiates how, In the context of austerity, the inadequate measures taken by the government to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic have had a devastating impact on the rights to an adequate standard of living, social security and the right to housing, and on spending on the right to health and education in particular. The report shows how regressive taxation coupled with austerity and misallocation of resources to military and other opaque and unaccountable use of the budget have exacerbated the unequal enjoyment of economic and social rights by further widening the existing inequalities in Serbia during the pandemic. These inadequate policies have had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups in Serbia such as women, children, Roma, internally displaced persons, undocumented persons, migrants, and refugees.

The submission demonstrates why - in order to improve the realization of economic and social rights - significant changes to economic policy will be necessary, including reversal of austerity measures and the introduction of rights-based COVID-19 recovery measures.

The report is accompanied by a briefing document that provides a summary of the main findings, together with relevant visualizations and priority recommendations to the CESCR.

During the review session, UN experts questioned the Serbian delegation on the austerity measures, regressive taxation, misallocation of resources, and their disproportionate effect on the vulnerable population. The delegation was asked if the government would consider reversing regressive taxation as a means to resource the realization of rights.