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Key Achievements

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October 2011

Launch of GIESCR

GIESCR launches with a focus on issues of extra-territorial human rights obligations (ETOs), women’s rights to land and other productive resources, housing rights, and human rights in the context of development.


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2011

Right to adequate housing

GIESCR submitted an individual complaint against Bulgaria to prevent a forced eviction in Sofia was the first complaint of its kind before the UN Human Rights Committee. Following our intervention, the Human Rights Committee issued a landmark decision in which it ordered a permanent injunction preventing the forced eviction of the community as well as the reestablishment of access to water. With this win the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has been opened as an additional avenue for the enforcement of certain aspects of social rights. See here: more information


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2011

Right to adequate housing

GIESCR has played a leadership role within the ESCR-Net Strategic Litigation Working Group by undertaking cases dealing with forced evictions in Kenya and the first ever amicus curiae intervention under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Kenya case stands out as a landmark result. Working closely with the affected community and Haki Jamii, the GI-ESCR took the lead in drafting an amicus curiae intervention aimed at informing the new Constitution of Kenya by bringing in international human rights standards as well as comparative law from South Africa. The amicus curiae brief was drafted by the GI-ESCR on behalf of the ESCR-Net Adjudication Working Group’s Strategic Litigation Initiative.


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2012

Women's ESC Rights

GI-ESCR first partnered with the Federation of Women Lawyers – Kenya (FIDA-Kenya) to draft a parallel report addressing Kenya’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The report addressed discrimination against women in the areas of housing as well as access to, control over and the use of land and other productive resources.  The Human Rights Committee in its Concluding Observations asked that the State of Kenya “guarantee equality between men and women in the devolution and succession of property after the death of a spouse” and that it “enact legislation reforming its matrimonial property law.”


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2012

Extra-territorial Obligations

GI-ESCR intervened with a Parallel Report to the UN Human Rights Committee regarding violations of Germany’s extra-territorial obligation to ensure human rights by not regulating or holding accountable a German corporation complicit in forced evictions in Uganda.


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2012

Privatisation of Social Services

2012: GIESCR initiated work on the human rights impacts of privatization in education. This work has resulted in the first ever pronouncements critiquing the detrimental impacts of privatization of education, in Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Morocco, Chile and Brazil, as well as the ETOs of the United Kingdom. This led to a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education which recognized education as a public good and the obligation to ensure that privatization does not have any detrimental human rights impacts.


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2012

Legal Advocacy

2012: The Concluding Observations on Germany from the UN Human Rights Committee represented the clearest articulation of extra-territorial human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights up until that time, and also reinforced the principle of indivisibility. This laid the foundation for future advocacy before the Committee, including opening avenues of accountability and remedies under the Individual Complaint procedure.


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2013

Women's ESC Rights

GI-ESCR was invited to be a keynote speaker during CEDAW’s (UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) day of discussion on the Rights of Rural Women. Over the years we presented multiple interventions to shape the content of CEDAW’s General Recommendations on rural women, violence against women and disaster risk reduction in a changing climate.


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2013

Women's ESC Rights

GIESCR successfully worked with partners, including IGED-Africa, ISLA, FIDA-Kenya and others, for the adoption of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights ground-breaking Resolution 262 on Women’s Right to Land and Productive Resources, and since that time have been building on this effort by working towards a new General Comment on women’s rights to equality upon dissolution of marriage.


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2014

Right to adequate housing

In a landmark ruling, the High Court of Kenya relied on the amicus intervention by GIESCR and read international human rights standards into the understanding of the Constitution of Kenya and ordered that the forcibly evicted community be returned to their lands, have their homes rebuilt and be compensated for their losses. The court also awarded the victims 224.6 million Kenyan Shillings (about US$2,660,000). In addition, the first case under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights dealt with evictions in the context of the housing crisis in Spain. The amicus intervention addressed systemic issues such as eviction in the context of the housing foreclosure crisis due in part to the financial crisis and austerity measures. The case set a precedent for amicus curiae interventions under the Optional Protocol and resulted in expanding the due process protections related to the prohibition on forced eviction to evictions in the context of foreclosure.


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2014

Extra-territorial Obligations

Filed the first Individual Complaint before the Human Rights Committee dealing with ETOs in the context of corporate accountability, requiring States to regulate trans-national corporations for activities abroad and provide access to accountability and remedies in the case of violations.


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2014

Women's ESC Rights

On Swaziland, after presenting a parallel report to the CEDAW Committee on women’s land and property rights, the CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Observations highlighted women’s land rights in ways consistent with parallel reporting to the Committee. Here, the Committee asked the State party to “Eliminate all cultural barriers which restrict women’s access to land, particularly in rural areas,” and to “repeal the doctrine of marital power in order to ensure full compliance with Article 15 of the Convention so that women have identical legal capacity to that of men to be able to conclude contracts and to administer property as well as to sue or to be sued in their own right.” Upon learning of these and other relevant Concluding Observations, our partners said to us that they were “over the moon!”


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2014

Women's ESC Rights

Global Initiative released a new tool on Using CEDAW to Secure Women’s Land and Property Rights. The purpose of this Guide is to provide those wishing to use the Convention and its Optional Protocol to secure the land and property rights of women, with advocacy information, advice and tools. Our Guide is directed at NGOs and advocates working on these specific issues. (see also ‘Using CEDAW and its Optional Protocol to advance women’s land and property rights.’)


2014

PRIVATE ACTORs & SOCIAL SERVICES

GI-ESCR started work on a multi-country research and advocacy project. Th project is coordinated by PERI, and is facilitated by GIESCR in collaboration with the Right to Education Project, and a number of national partners. The project has produced empirical research, UN parallel reports, and advocacy, in 12 countries.


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2015

Privatisation of Social Services

A global group of education stakeholders began working together to develop human rights Guiding Principles (referred to as “the Guiding Principles”) that compile existing customary and conventional human rights law as it relates to the provision of education, including its delivery by private actors. 


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2016

Extra-territorial Obligations

Our strategic advocacy work on ETOs, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) culminated in the adoption of an official statement on austerity measures and public debt, which included ETOs in the context of international financial institutions.


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2016

Women's ESC Rights

In partnership with ESCR-Net, we released a publication entitled ‘The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at 50: The Significance from a Women’s Rights Perspective.’ The publication celebrates the significance of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from the perspective of advancing and ensuring gender equality and simultaneously points to ways in which the treaty can be utilized even more strategically and effectively to ensure that women’s ESC rights are fully respected, protected and fulfilled towards the goal of achieving gender equality. 


2017

PrivatE ACTORS & Social Services

GI-ESCR has also worked to mobilize the francophone community in West Africa to solidify a position on funding for privatized social services. This work contributed to the French development aid Minister issuing a landmark statement against French funding in support of privatizing education in Africa.


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2018

Extra-territorial Obligations

We successfully advocated to have ETOs systemically monitored and enforced in several General Comments and Recommendations by UN treaty bodies:  General Comment No. 24 of the CESCR dealing with business and human rights; and CEDAW: No. 34 on rural women, No. 35 on gender-based violence against women, and No. 37 on gender-related dimensions of disaster risk reduction in the context of climate change.