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Evolution of the mandate

a) General overview

The mandate of the Independent Expert (IE) has undergone several changes throughout the years. At the very beginning, two different mandates were established by the Commission on Human Rights: the mandate of the Independent Expert on structural adjustment policies in 1997 and the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in 1998. Those two mandates were discontinued in 2000 when the mandate of the Independent Expert on the effects of structural adjustment policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights was set up. In 2005, the Commission decided to replace the phrase “effects of structural adjustment policies” with “effects of economic reform policies” in the title of the mandate so that it became “Independent Expert on the effects of economic reform policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights”. In 2008, by resolution 7/4, the Human Rights Council redefined and renamed the mandate “Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights”.

b) Evolution of the mandate

From March 2008 to present:

  • The title of the mandate was reformulated as “Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights”;
  • The Independent Expert was requested to report annually to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly;
  • In 2010 the Council requested the Independent Expert to present draft general guidelines to be followed by States and by private and public, national and international financial institutions in the decision making on and execution of debt repayments and structural reform programmes, including those arising from foreign debt relief.
  • After regional consultations, an expert meeting and a public consultation the guiding principles on foreign debt and human rights were submitted in 2012 to the Human Rights Council and endorsed in June 2012 (see HRC/RES/20/10).
  • In June 2012 the Human Rights Council requested the Independent Expert to develop a commentary to the guiding principles.

From 2005 to 2008:

  • The title of the mandate was reformulated as “Independent Expert on the effects of economic reform policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights”;
  • The IE was requested to report annually to the Commission on Human Rights and to the General Assembly;
  • The Commission requested the mandate-holder to present to the Commission at its sixty-second session a final draft of general guidelines to be followed by States and by private and public, national and international financial institutions in the decision‑making on and execution of debt repayments and structural reform programmes, including those arising from foreign debt relief.

From 2000 to 2005:

  • The Commission discontinued the mandate of the Independent Expert on structural adjustment policies and the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, and created the mandate of the “Independent Expert on the effects of structural adjustment policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights”;
  • The IE was requested to report annually to the Commission on Human Rights.

From 1997 to 2000:

  • The Commission established the mandate of the Independent Expert on structural adjustment policies in 1997;
  • The IE was requested to submit a consolidated study on the effects of structural adjustment policies on economic, social and cultural rights and to elaborate draft basic policy guidelines on structural adjustment policies.
  • The Commission established the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in 1998;
  • The SR was requested to report annually to the Commission on Human Rights.