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Assessing austerity’s human rights impacts at OHCHR

On November 9th, 2017, program director Niko Lusiani presented CESR’s proposal to inform the drafting of Guiding Principles for Human Rights Impact Assessments of Economic Reform Policies at the Offices of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva. 
The presentation was part of a workshop of human rights and development experts responding to a March 2017 UN Human Rights Council request for Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, to develop the Guiding Principles (GPs) through consultations with states, international financial institutions and other stakeholders.
According to the OHCHR, “the ambition of the guiding principles is not to develop new human rights standards, but to provide effective and practical guidance and tools to different stakeholders for assessing economic reform policies on the basis of existing human rights standards.”
To that end, the conversation on November 9th focused on the practicalities of assessing austerity from a human rights perspective with a cross-section of experts including representatives from the International Monetary Fund; Bretton Woods Project; International Trade Union Confederation; Institute for Socio-economic Studies, Brazil; London School of Economics; International Labour Organization; and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, among others. 
Other topics covered in the workshop included “Human rights obligations of States and International Financial Institutions in the context of financial crises” and “Lessons learned on policy responses to financial crises.” 
This December, the Independent Expert will submit a thematic report drawing on the workshop discussions, which will then be presented at the 37th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2018. The report will include a mapping of existing human rights and other relevant impact assessment tools to be applied in the context of economic reform, austerity and fiscal consolidation policies, as well as a framework for the further development of the GPs.