130 organizations join forces at UN to confront Egypt’s human rights crisis
New York/Cairo, 7 April 2014: As Egypt looks ahead to another presidential election, the situation of human rights in the country continues to deteriorate and the promises of social justice made after the 2011 revolution remain unfulfilled. Against this worrying backdrop a large coalition of some 130 organizations, coordinated by CESR and the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, is taking the government to task at the United Nations.
Later this year Egypt will be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review mechanism for the first time since 2010. Ahead of the October session, a joint report endorsed by 51 non-governmental organizations and 79 labour unions, explaining the desperate state of economic and social rights in Egypt, has been submitted to the UN. The submission examines the continuing failure of successive governments to meet the recommendations of the Council after the 2010 review and the failure to address the aspirations of the Egyptian people as expressed in popular uprisings since January 2011.
The report finds that the policy-making of four consecutive governments has consistently refused to confront the root causes of socio-economic inequality that fuelled the revolution. A worsening economic crisis, together with widespread corruption, failing public services and a pronounced lack of public participation in policy-making has been met only with ill-conceived austerity measures, short-term fixes based on borrowing, a repressive crackdown on dissent, and the failure to carry out desperately-needed impact assessments.
Most urgently, the failure to address continuing human rights deprivations in Egypt jeopardizes the country’s fragile transition, which will only prove sustainable if the government makes a truly human rights-based development trajectory its number one priority.
The report analyzes the spread of social and economic inequality, addressing the shortcomings of the institutional framework provided by both the newly passed constitution and new and existing legislation. In a country where a quarter of the population lives in poverty, a third are unemployed and three out of every five children are malnourished, government measures to protect rights on the ground are not only absent, but instead are replaced by regressive measures undermining citizens’ ability to access basic entitlements.
As the accessibility and quality of food, housing, health and education has deteriorated, successive governments have continued to ignore all demands for corrective measures such as progressive tax reform, rebalancing budget allocations, and improved transparency and accountability.
In the submission, NGOs and unions stress the recommendations made by the Council at Egypt’s last review, in 2010, together with the more recent recommendations made by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at its 51st session last November. The coalition urges the State to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and to ensure the enforcement of current national legislation designed to protect economic and social rights. The coalition also elucidates the measures the government needs to take in order to combat discrimination against the most vulnerable. It further offers policy alternatives that would serve to maximize the country’s resources, and thereby help tackle deprivations, while simultaneously providing for meaningful transparency and accountability, with effective public involvement in decision-making about the country's resources.
In the run-up to October’s HRC session the Egyptian government will also be required to present a report detailing its efforts to satisfy its international human rights obligations. A third report will meanwhile be submitted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, outlining the country's compliance with its human rights obligations in the light of information it has received. After the session takes place, the Human Rights Council will issue a set of recommendations to the Egyptian government.
* The Joint Submission can be accessed in pdf format here.
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact:
* Nadim Amin El-Din, International Media Officer, Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, at firstname.lastname@example.org or +20.100.411.8110
* Luke Holland, Communications Coordinator, Center for Economic and Social Rights, at email@example.com or +1.347.744.2934