RightsBridge: ICESCR And Why It Matters

The “Building a Human Rights Bridge out of Poverty” project met for a third event, on 9th June 2021, title “What is ICESCR and why it matters”. With the next ICESCR review set for 2022-23, the group of approximately 50 activists from across the 4 nations explored how this international human rights treaty has potential as tool for people with lived experience who are campaigning around economic, cultural and social rights violations.

As with previous #RightsBridge events, Graham Ogilvie worked to document the event through his cartoon imagery. Here follows a brief write-up/draw-up of the presentations and discussions. You can scroll through the images by clicking on the black arrow on the right of the picture slideshow:

Kait Laughlin, Human Rights Education Scotland, gave an overview of Human Rights explaining how the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is part of a family tree of rights. Koldo Casla, University of Essex Human Rights Centre, explained the United Nation’s review process of the ICESCR implementation in UK will be in 2022-23 and how people’s lived experiences can be part of that process.

Alan Miller, from Independent Co-Chair of the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership in Scotland, gave an impassioned talk about the current Human Rights landscape in Scotland, calling on other nations to find their passionate human rights voices and strive for similar progress despite Westminster obstacles. He presented the idea that the ICESCR review process could be a tool to hold the devolved governments and UK government to account on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights.

Finally, Dessie Donnelly, from PPR Belfast, shared the experience of the “Belfast 3”, three activists from the PPR network who had taken part in the 2009 and 2016 ICESCR reviews. Sharing examples of the briefing papers that PPR had produced from their grassroots work, telling the stories of conversations the team held with officials in the UN corridors of Geneva, Dessie explained how ICESCR can be a useful tool within a wider programme of activities and social rights campaigns.

After these main presentations, participants broke into small groups to discuss what they had learnt and what they felt about the ICESCR review. From feedback it was clear that people with lived experience of poverty and human rights violations need to be authentic partners in the review process. 

Closing remarks came from Amanda Button & Patricia Bailey from ATD Fourth World, spoke about jargon-busting and why keeping lived experience of poverty at the heart of social rights matters. They closed the event with an invite for participants to return to the next #RightsBridge event to explore what participation in the ICESCR review needs to look like and how people want to be involved. 

Watch this space for more…

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The Building a Human Rights Bridge out of Poverty series has been organised by Just Fair, Amnesty International UK, ATD Fourth World and the Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex, RAPAR, Thrive Teeside, Bevan Foundation and the Social Rights Alliance England.

You can read about what has happened so far in this project here:

This blog was first published on the Social Rights Alliance website.