What is the economy for? We don’t often stop to ask this basic question. Economies shape how we organize societies and how widely rights are enjoyed. But “the economy” is often talked about as a monolithic force that cannot be controlled, and which is separate from the day-to-day lives of humans. It is depicted as numbers on a chart, or the rise and fall of the stock market, or a mechanized assembly line in a factory. We talk about having to sacrifice health or justice or equity in service of the economy. But in reality, people are the economy. . For this reason, we all have a right to ask (and answer) the question of what the economy is for and who it serves.
CESR is trying to do just that, by bringing movements together to create a Blueprint for a “Rights-Based Economy”. For decades, we’ve been told by those who benefit from the current economic system that the status quo works. But this status quo has resulted in austerity, deregulation, and privatization - all of which have ravaged public services and social safety nets. The goods. systems and services we rely on to realize our rights have been whittled away, or reimagined as commodities to be sold off to the highest bidder. These trends are supported by a deeply entrenched narrative that the free market is the best and most efficient way to distribute resources. Despite mountains of evidence proving it false, this narrative has stuck.
We shouldn’t accept that there is no alternative to our current unjust economic system. Instead, we need to engage people in thinking about how to distribute resources in a just, inclusive way, in order to create an economy that serves everyone’s needs.
We need to show that a different path is possible. We need a narrative that counters the dominant dogmas and offers a vision of an economic system that supports a better life for the great majority of people who don’t reap the rewards of neoliberalism.
In this line of work, CESR is exploring - collaboratively with partners and allies - how a human rights framework can enrich visions of economic justice. What would it look, feel, and be like? The “Rights-Based Economy” is based on a holistic understanding of human wellbeing, and supported by the widely agreed framework of values and obligations of human rights. It demands action to redistribute resources, remedy inequalities, and rebalance power in our economies.
Want to join us on our journey towards the Rights-Based Economy? See our resources below and get in touch with our team
This report by CESR and Christian Aid launches the concept of a Rights-Based Economy and explains its purpose, values, and how can it be applied in practice.
This chapter on the civil society assessment of progress on the sustainable development agenda delves into how a Rights-Based Economy can help up build a just post-COVID future.
A blog post summarizing the vision of the Rights-Based Economy and what can you do to contribute to it.