Seeding Change for a Human Rights Economy: Towards a New Social Contract
Open lecture with Dr. Jyoti Sanghera, Senior Advisor/Consultant, Surge Initiative, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
This talk by Dr. Jyoti Sanghera will focus on the two-year experience of the Surge Initiative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that has recently entered into a partnership with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights at the University of Lund. The aim of the Surge initiative is to connect human rights with macroeconomic analysis and policies with the objective of realizing economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) and the Sustainable Development Goals for all, without discrimination. The shift underscored in this analysis is to explore the human rights pathways to a new social contract by centering a human rights economy.
The talk will discuss the lessons learnt from the Surge’s seeding change country projects to highlight the strengths, opportunities and challenges in engaging with contextualised macroeconomic policies to advance human rights, especially of the groups most left behind during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, through increased investments in social spending, including for the right to health, food and social protection. Issues of inequality, multidimensional poverty, and the cost of structural discrimination will be some of the framing elements of the discussion in this panel. Dr. Sanghera will draw on examples from the Asian region, as relevant.
The COVID-19 multi-layered crisis has seriously impacted lives and livelihoods. It has placed severe strains on all economies and curtailed the ability of Governments to collect revenues, resulting in major challenges to keep people afloat. The obstacles to mobilise resources for social spending in the short and longer term are numerous, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Under international human rights law, States are duty-bound to guarantee the minimum essential levels of the enjoyment of the rights to health, social protection, nutrition and food, water and sanitation, housing, and education for all people, even in times of crisis. All States, even developing countries with inadequate resources, are required to mobilise maximum available resources for the progressive realization of these rights, including by introducing targeted programmes to assist those most in need.
The Surge Initiative has looked at how debt, revenues, budgets and corruption have restricted fiscal space to provide for social spending on key ESC rights. By historicising social phenomena, the discussion will focus on conceptual clarity, relevant approaches, and the interconnectedness of key socio-economic and environmental phenomena with the aim of interrogating the current economic and development paradigm which centres the market rather than the human person. The talk will examine the elements of an alternative model that aims to forge a new social contract between duty bearers and rights holders - one which works for the people.
Dr. Jyoti Sanghera is the Senior Adviser on Outreach and Partnerships for the Surge Initiative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This Project is currently in partnership with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the University of Lund, Sweden.
Until February 2021, Dr. Sanghera served as the Chief of Section of the Human Rights and Social and Economic Issues at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, in which capacity she was one of the two Initiating co-chairs of OHCHR’s Surge Initiative which started in August 2019.
Previous to that, she was the Chief of the Asia Pacific Section at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Head of Office of OHCHR in Nepal and also as the Senior Human Rights Adviser in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Jyoti Sanghera has worked on human rights, especially Economic, Social and Cultural rights and protection issues of women, migrants and other discriminated groups in conflict and post conflict situations for the past three decades in various capacities, including with key NGOs in North America and Asia. Prior to joining the UN Dr. Sanghera taught at the University of British Columbia and at the Department of Gender Studies at the University of Victoria in Canada. Dr. Jyoti Sanghera has a Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley, USA, and a M.A in Women Studies and International Development from the Institute for Social Studies, the Hague in The Netherlands. She also has an M.A in History from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India.