Message from the Co-Directors

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Bret Thiele & Mayra Gomez

2018 was a great year of growth and innovation for the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR).  This report outlines our key activities and areas of work in 2018, including achievements made with respect to each of the following:

·         Advocating for the right to social security in the context of unpaid work and gender discrimination;

·         Ensuring that systemic violations of economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights) were addressed within the context of emerging international standards on the right to life;

·         Highlighting the links between climate change and women’s rights to land and productive resources;

·         Ensuring that women in Africa have the same rights  as  men to land and property in case of separation, divorce or annulment of marriage;

·         Facilitating the development process for the human rights guiding principles on States’ obligations regarding private actors in education;

·         Advocating for strong international standards on the regulation of private education providers, to address the negative impacts of the commercialisation of education;

·         Working to increase the visibility of the ESC rights work of international human rights mechanisms, to ensure that the voices of rights holders and advocates are heard in these international processes, and that States prevent Transnational Corporations (TNCs) from violating rights abroad and hold them accountable when violations occur; Working to re-energise the right to adequate housing in international human rights mechanisms and debates and to focus attention, and build political commitment, for the realisation of the right to adequate housing on the ground; and,

·         Seeking to influence States to employ greater ambition in their climate and energy policies and ensure that those policies are based on human rights.

Two other achievements were especially notable in 2018.  First, we published our Yearbook on the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). With a welcome message from the 2018 Chair of the Committee, Ms Maria Virginia Bras Gomes, this on-line publication provides information and analysis of the work of the Committee during 2017.  With this inaugural edition of our Yearbook, we hope to provide advocates, activists, and others with concise information summarising the Committee's 2017 accomplishments.  The Committee is a premier international human rights institution, charged with the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which has been ratified by 168 countries.  Its decisions, Concluding Observations and General Comments provide authoritative interpretation of the treaty and clarify the nature of State party obligations.  We hope you find the Yearbook informative and useful, and we look forward to producing future editions in the coming years.

Second, we also launched our brand new website.  It is a tremendous improvement over the old website, which had been with us since our founding and which we had thankfully outgrown. The new website captures both our work and our spirit, and enables us to better share with others our ongoing contributions in the field of ESC rights. 

With the help and support of our wonderful team, Board of Directors, donors, and partners around the world, we are so pleased with how the GI-ESCR has evolved over the years.  Our commitments to advancing protection and enjoyment of ESC rights in tangible ways, and to doing that work in meaningful partnership, has motivated our approach to GI-ESCR’s work over the years.   Since we began, we have had a chance to partner with many of you on specific projects and initiatives, and we have been immensely grateful for those partnerships, and for the opportunity to engage in this work collectively and collaboratively. 

 2018 was also a pivotal year for us personally.  After founding GI-ESCR nearly ten years ago, and having had the privilege of being its first Co-Directors, in 2018 we decided the time was right to bring on new leadership.  We announced to the Board, our staff and donors our intention to step down from our positions, and to help the organisation recruit a new Director to lead the organisation and bring it to its next stage of growth. 

It is an exciting time for us, and for the organisation.  We believe that new leadership will bring new skills, new perspectives, and healthy change.  We want sincerely to thank all of those we’ve worked with over the many years, including our dedicated Board and team at GI-ESCR.  We would not overstate it by saying that being able to do this work has been one of the highlights of our lives, both before and after we founded the GI-ESCR.  We look forward to seeing the organisation continue to grow, to contribute and to offer the world an alternative vision of what we can achieve together through mutual cooperation and commitment to human rights.

Mayra Gomez and Bret Thiele,
Co-Executive Directors Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights