Guiding Principles for human rights impact assessments for economic reform policies

I. Background

Human Rights Council resolution 34/3 requested the Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights to develop guiding principles for human rights impact assessments for economic reform policies, in consultation with States, international financial institutions and other relevant stakeholders. The ambition of the guiding principles is not to develop new human rights standards, but to provide effective and practical guidance and tools to different stakeholders for assessing economic reform policies on the basis of existing human rights standards.

The Independent Expert wants to implement this mandate in a participatory manner in close collaboration with experts from States, international financial institutions and other human rights mechanisms, including experts from National Human Rights Institutions, civil society organizations, scholars and professional organizations working in the field of social and human rights impact assessment. As a first step, the Independent Expert undertook a mapping of existing human rights impact assessment tools and guidance documents that could or have already been applied in the context of economic reform, austerity and fiscal consolidation policies.

II. Thematic Report to the Human Rights Council (37th Session, March 2018)

In his thematic report, the Independent Expert discusses the development of guiding principles for assessing the human rights impact of economic reform policies. The report of the Independent Expert was informed by submissions received in response to a call for contributions and by the below mentioned expert workshop.

III. Expert Workshop (9 November 2017)

The Independent Expert organised an expert workshop in Geneva on 9 November 2017. This workshop convened experts from the human rights and development fields to discuss the Independent Expert’s project to develop guiding principles on human rights impacts assessments for economic reform policies with a view of informing his thematic report to be presented to the Human Rights Council. The programme, concept note and other relevant information related to the workshop are available here.

IV. Call for contributions (deadline 15 August 2017)

Last year, the Independent Expert invited Governments, international organizations and international financial institutions, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations, academics and practitioners to share information about relevant standards, tools and examples that could be useful for developing such guidance.

Mr. Bohoslavsky would like to thank all stakeholders for the submissions received.

The call for contributions was available in EnglishFrench and Spanish and submissions received are listed below.

Submissions received


International Organizations

National Human Rights Institutions

Civil Society Organisations

Other contributions and additional literature

V. Other international tools and material

Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights

  • Report on austerity measures and economic and social rights  (E/2013/82)

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

  • Statement on  Public debt, austerity measures and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/C.12/2016/1)

Committee on the Rights of the Child  (CRC/C/GC/19)

  • General Comment No. 19 on public budgeting for the realization of children's rights (art.4)

Reports by the Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights

Reports by the Independent Expert/Special Rapporteur on the question of human rights and extreme poverty

  • Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights  (A/HRC/21/39)
  • A human rights based approach to recovery from global economic and financial crises (A/HRC/17/34)
  • Mission report to Ireland (A/HRC/17/34/Add.2)
  • Human rights policy of the World Bank  (A/70/274)

Reports by the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing

Special Rapporteur on the right to food

  • Guiding principles on human rights impact assessments of trade and investment agreements (A/HRC/19/59/Add.5)
  • Report on the responsibilities of international organizations concerning the right to food (A/60/350)

Council of Europe, Commissioner for Human Rights