Of Austerity, Human Rights and International Institutions
30 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2015
Date Written: March 25, 2015
Austerity measures in many European countries have led to the violation of social rights and widespread socio-economic malaise. In the case of countries subjected to conditionality imposed by external institutions for the receipt of loans, the resultant harms have highlighted responsibility gaps across a range of international institutions. Two recent legal developments come together to expose these gaps: Greece’s argument in a series of cases under the European Social Charter that it was not responsible for the impact on the right to social security brought about by austerity measures since it was only giving effect to its other international obligations as agreed with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (the Troika), and the concern to emerge from the Pringle case before the European Court of Justice that European Union institutions could do outside of the EU that which they could not do within the EU – disregard the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the exercise of their tasks. That the Commission and ECB were in time answerable to international organisations set up to provide financial support adds an additional layer of responsibility to consider. Taking Greece as a case study and drawing on EU law, international human rights law, and the law on the international responsibility of states and of international organisations, this article looks to what we can expect in legal terms and as a matter of contemporary societal expectation when it comes to having international institutions respect human rights.
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