Righting Finance Initiative

CESR has joined the Steering Committee of a new initiative entitled 'A Bottom-Up Approach to Righting Financial Regulation' which is seeking to confront the human rights implications of the global economic crisis. A series of succinct briefings explaining key issues is being produced as part of this collaboration and will be published on this page as they become available.

The ongoing effects of the financial and economic crisis have brought home to people worldwide the intrinsic connection between financial regulation policies and the social contract in any given society.

This is in stark contrast to the two particular myths prevailing before the financial crisis. The first of these was that private financial firms could be trusted to exercise self-regulation, while the other was that the framing and design of financial regulation should be reserved to certain trained experts; technocracy was to rule the market, not the rest of democratic society. In a resolution issued in 2009, the Human Rights Council —the world’s foremost human rights organ—recognized the “negative impact of the global economic and financial crises on economic and social development and on the full enjoyment of all human rights in all countries”.

Basic human rights continue to be affected. The impacts on budgets due to lower revenues and the rescues of financial firms generated knock-on effects on sovereign debt that have become today sources of uncertainty and the sources of a looming new crisis. Many countries have significantly reduced expenditures—with social protection, old-age pensions, wages, education, healthcare and social security facing serious cutbacks, leaving deep, long-lasting scars upon people’s well-being and basic dignity.

Now more than ever there is a need to counter-balance the often myopic views of financial experts with a broad array of social groups (consumer, labor, women, environment, indigenous people, and other “human rights-holders”) in the design of financial policy. Reciprocally, democracy in any meaningful sense rests upon a legitimate contribution of all people to the design of public policy, including related to financial regulation.

It is with these facts in mind that CESR has joined the Steering Committee of the Righting Financial Regulation project, a coalition of eight organizations being coordinated by the Center of Concern. The Association for Women’s Rights in Development, Civicus, Social Watch, DAWN, ESCR-Net and iBase30 are also collaborating in the initiative, which seeks to build the capacity of human rights and social justice organizations so that they can effectively campaign for better financial regulation. The project will seek to ensure that regulations are designed, implemented and monitored in such a way as to comply with human rights standards. This undertaking will require that social justice organizations move out of their epistemological comfort zones and engage constructively with financial authorities, thereby claiming their voice and establishing themselves as a legitimate interlocutors. CESR looks forward to working closely with its partners on what promises to be a key challenge for both human rights organizations and the broader social justice movement in the years to come.