2022 was quite a year. The simultaneous crises facing the world were ever present: obscene levels of inequality within and between countries, a vast and urgent climate emergency, and regressive forces undermining our democracies. These interlinked crises were further exacerbated by war, particularly the invasion of Ukraine, which has caused the cost of living to soar worldwide. For most people, the results have been devastating: the worst inflation in decades, a jump in unemployment, higher energy bills, and sharp falls in real income and living standards. Disadvantaged groups, such as racial or religious minorities, indigenous peoples, immigrants and asylum seekers, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, women who demand their rights, and children and adolescents, have felt the effects most. However, there are reasons to remain hopeful. Crises find a way of accelerating change.
The neoliberal paradigm is increasingly questioned against a background of rapid and potentially irreversible ecological destruction. More and more, organised citizens are speaking out and mobilising against the agenda of deregulation, privatisation and trade liberalisation that has undermined the State’s role in providing services. In parallel, social forces and countries from the Global South are pushing for an overhaul of tax policies and the international financial architecture. An example of mobilizing was the ‘Our Future is Public’ conference. Organised in Santiago, Chile, by GI-ESCR and partners (see details in the report).
These deeply interlinked crises will eventually transform our economic and social systems. A growing number of people and social organisations are realising that economic, social, cultural and environmental rights are of paramount importance and that national and international solidarity is essential if we are to overcome societal challenges. As a set of democratically sanctioned societal goals, human rights can provide us with a compass for transforming our political, economic and social institutions, creating a fairer future for all.
GI-ESCR is part of a movement that is rethinking power relations and our relationship with the planet. During 2022, we took further our commitment to facilitate discussions and agreements on the actions that are needed. We worked in several ways to establish economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights as an essential point of reference for reforming the institutions that govern our societies. This is not a time for complacency. We cannot assume that battles have been won. Supported by our board and generous donors, inspired by partners and human rights defenders on the front line, GI-ESCR will continue to create and facilitate opportunities to challenge the prevailing model and current power relations, with the goal of achieving a world in which every person and every community enjoys their economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.
Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona