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Key Concepts: Human Rights and the Economy

The new issue in our Key Concepts series, on Taxes, Budgets, and Human Rights, is now available in English, Spanish and Arabic.

This primer explores how governments collect and spend public money, and how activists and organizations can push for fiscal policy transformations that fight inequality and poverty. It delivers strong arguments to push back against austerity measures and proposes human rights tools to share our planet’s wealth and ensure dignity for all.

Human rights provide standards for what a society should guarantee to everyone. These standards, and the commitments that flow from them, can be leveraged to shift narratives and shift power in political debates. To help build a new story about what our economies are for and how they can be remade, we launched Key Concepts, a new series created for anyone fighting for economic and social justice and in need of new inspiration and tools to catalyze change. 

In each of the documents, you’ll find an overview of crucial human rights concepts that can aid us in building just and sustainable economies, plus practical examples of how they have been used by advocates. Activists, organizations, and everyone interested in learning more about the power of human rights can draw on them to explore issues such as economic responses to the pandemic, sovereign debt, fiscal justice, and more.            

Our first primer in the series, Human Rights & Economic Recovery from COVID (also available in Spanish and Arabic), shines a light on the structural injustices exposed by the pandemic, what we gain from looking at recovery efforts through a human rights lens, and how we can hold governments and private actors to account.    

Our second primer, on Sovereign Debt and Human Rights (also available in Spanish and Arabic), explores the unjust power dynamics behind countries' public debt, and how looking at the issue through a human rights lens can help advocacy efforts. Readers will find ways to challenge traditional thinking on the vicious cycle of external debt and analyze how government borrowing can boost both public services and the economy.

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