Strengthening the capacity of NHRIs in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural rights

Participants in the ESCR Workshop in Riga

On 25 and 27-29 September, in Riga, Latvia, staff of 13 National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from across wider Europe received training on economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) during a workshop facilitated by the Danish Institute for Human Rights, and the US-based Centre for Economic and Social Rights.

Indeed, there are some institutional characteristics, unique to NHRIs, which make them effective actors for advancing the ESCR. Nevertheless, NHRIs have traditionally been less active in protecting and promoting ESCR than civil and political rights.

Taking into account the commitment expressed by NHRIs to advance ESCR in their countries, in the aftermath of the wave of austerity measures applied in many European countries as a consequence of the economic and financial crisis, the main goal of the training was to ensure that NHRIs have a well-developed understanding of how to perform their mandated functions to protect and promote ESCR.

During the workshop, participants explored common challenges faced by NHRIs in the promotion and protection of ESCR and the strategic use of NHRI functions in ESCR monitoring. An entire day was dedicated to working with Human Rights indicators, benchmarks and data, including the application of a human rights based perspective to SDG data and the role of NHRIs in the 2030 Agenda. Finally, the workshop delved into the relationship between the realisation of ESCR and budgets and resources, outlining different techniques for evaluating and monitoring resources allocation and expenditure.

“Discovering common challenges within our NHRIs, even though the national contexts and NHRI mandates differ from one another was very enriching” remarked Fionna O’Connel, from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Rashad Novruzov, from the Ombudsman of the Republic of Azerbaijan, explained how he was planning to apply the knowledge gained during the training at national level: “I will make proposals about the implementation of the NHRI’s role in relation to the SDGs, and look for more efficient methods for data collection, indicators and benchmarks”.

The workshop constituted the second part of the Blended Learning Course on ESCR, under the NHRI.EU Project, developed by the Danish Institute for Human Rights and CESR, and coordinated by ENNHRI. This course uses the blended learning approach, which combines three phases: an e-learning, a face-to-face workshop, and the possibility to apply for a follow-
up grant to implement the learning in the context of a domestic project.