Budget Analysis and Economic and Social Rights
E. Riedel et al, 'Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Contemporary Issues and Challenges' (Oxford: OUP, Forthcoming)
Posted: 5 Aug 2011 Last revised: 24 Aug 2012
Date Written: June 1, 2011
This paper focuses on economic and social rights (ESR)-based budget analysis, a subject and a methodology of increasing interest to those concerned with monitoring the implementation of human rights, and of ESR in particular. It argues that the increased focus on, and employment of, rights-based budget analysis is merely one manifestation of a broader move towards the integration of human rights and economics discourses at the academic, advocacy and policy levels The author highlights that the evolving congruence, or at least the emergent conversation, between these respective disciplines has accelerated as a result of the current economic crisis. This is attributable to, first, growing awareness of the role that neo-liberal, macro-economic and domestic economic policies and structures played in causing the crisis, and, second, mounting concern about the implications of national and supranational responses thereto for the human rights enjoyment of the most vulnerable in society.
Having defined 'ESR-based budget analysis' - a term that has been accorded multiple definitions - the paper addresses three sets of challenges that arise in relation to carrying out such work. It begins by considering the conceptual challenges that result from the current condition of the international ESR framework as set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and interpreted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Committee). The second set of challenges addressed is those of a practical or logistical nature that are faced by practitioners seeking to carry out budget analysis in the performance of such work. The final category of obstacles considered relate to efforts to use budget analysis outputs for advocacy purposes. The paper concludes with a consideration of the implications that the economic crisis and the international and domestic responses thereto have for the prospects of rights-based budget analysis as a tool to advance ESR.
Keywords: socio-economic rights, economic and social rights, budget analysis, budgets, human rights, economics, economic crisis, financial crisis, global recession, measuring human rights
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