The Hernán Santa Cruz Dialogues

“As stated in the Guiding Principles on Human Rights Impact Assessment of Economic Reforms human rights impact assessments should be a mandatory element in the design of all economic reform and adjustment programmes and avoid human rights violations.”

—Mazen Shaqoura, Head, OHCHR Start-up team, Sudan


In October 2020, UN Human Rights launched the Hernán Santa Cruz Dialogue Series, creating a new platform for exchanging progressive ideas, experience and practices on economic and social rights, the right to development and the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, linked to the challenges of our times. Inspired by the vision and mission of Hernán Santa Cruz, an early architect of the UN human rights system who contributed immensely to the inclusion of economic and social rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the new Dialogue Series aims at increasing awareness and stimulate discussions within national settings, to promote the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights for people around the world.

Through the Hernán Santa Cruz Dialogue Series, focusing on various economic and social rights issues, UN Human Rights will engage with people across the world, in efforts to amplify their voices, and empower them to become agents of change in their societies. The Declaration on the Right to Development provides the vision of people-centred development anchored in international cooperation and solidarity, which is key to building more resilient and inclusive societies in all regions.

From 2020-2030 the Hernán Santa Cruz Dialogue will be hosted in different countries to stimulate forward-looking dialogue by thought-leaders and decision-makers to promote changes that can make a positive impact on the ground.

13 July 2021 – Dialogue on the contribution of development to human rights in Guinea

The third Hernan Santa Cruz Dialogue will take place in the Republic of Guinea on the 13th of July. Organized around the central theme of ‘The Contribution of Development to Human Rights in Guinea’, and the three sub-themes of the Right to Development, Climate Change and the Protection of the Environment ; the Right to Development, Participation and Social Cohesion ; and the Right to Development and G77+China, this international conference provides an opportunity to advance a forward-looking dialogue aimed at revitalizing the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to realize human rights and fundamental freedoms for everyone, everywhere. Bringing together key stakeholders at the local, national, regional and global levels, the event will include high-level government representatives, experts, civil society activists and the UN system in Guinea as well as prominent personalities from the African Continent and the international community.

Concept note for the Guinea event: English | Français

The video/message of the HC is available : English

15 April 2021 – Dialogue on strengthening social protection in Ukraine

Internally displaced pensioners in Ukraine. ©OHCHR

As contributions to the ongoing reform of the social protection and pension system in Ukraine, the UNCT in Ukraine prepared the UN Policy Paper on Social Protection, presenting a set of policy recommendations for the Government of Ukraine and other relevant stakeholders to strengthen the right to social protection particularly for the most vulnerable groups in Ukraine. The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, with support of the Surge Team, contributed to this UN Policy Paper.

The UN Policy Paper was launched on 15 April as the second in the series of Hernán Santa Cruz Dialogue, to stimulate public discourse among duty-bearers and rights-holders to strengthen the realization of ESCR and the right to development. The event was hosted by the UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine and featured video messages and speeches from the High Commissioner, the ILO Director-General, Maximiliano Santa Cruz (the grandson of Hernán) and the Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, followed by a panel discussion among government and UN experts focusing on the implications of pension reform for older women, informal workers, migrants and those living in the non-government-controlled area. Read the High Commissioner's statement

The recordings of the launch are available online: English | Ukrainian

20 October 2020 – Dialogue on strengthening social protection in Sudan

The Hernán Santa Cruz Dialogue Series was launched with an Inaugural Event in Sudan on 20 October 2020, hosted by the UN Human Rights in Sudan and the Human Rights Center, Faculty of Law of the University of Khartoum. Entitled ‘Rekindling the Spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: The Hernán Santa Cruz Inaugural Dialogue on Economic, Social and Cultural rights”, the panel discussion focused on strengthening social protection in Sudan.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called on countries like Sudan to embark on concrete and targeted actions, using maximum available resources – including through international assistance and cooperation – to progressively achieve a universal and comprehensive social protection system that leaves no one behind. In building back better from the pandemic, she emphasized the importance of international solidarity to build strong national systems that are grounded in the vision of Hernán Santa Cruz – because all human rights, civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, as well as the right to development are the foundation of sustainable peace and development. Read the High Commissioner's statement

Hosted 17 days after the signing of the peace agreement in Sudan, the event brought together high-level representatives of government and international community, academics and civil society. It provided a unique opportunity to share perspectives and debate key issues in advancing the effective implementation of the peace agreement by advancing economic and social rights, including strengthening social protection and social security; as well as addressing the regional disparities and inequalities exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of civil society in enhancing accountability for violations.