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From Rhetoric to Remedy: human rights in the struggle against poverty

October 27, 2014, 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Lipton Hall
108 West Third Street
New York, NY 10012

Panel discussion hosted by the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ). A brief reception will follow the event.

More than twenty years since the Vienna Declaration affirmed that development and human rights were interdependent and mutually reinforcing, most major development agencies and organizations committed to tackling poverty have formally acknowledged the centrality of human rights to their work, many through institutional commitments to use a "rights-based approach." The vast majority of states have legally bound themselves to realize the rights to an adequate standard of living, to food, housing and health through the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. And yet this summer, as member states of the United Nations met to agree upon a draft of the Sustainable Development Goals to succeed the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, explicit references to human rights were largely kept out on grounds that they were too politically controversial. What explains this paradox?

This panel will convene leading figures from the fields of law, human rights and development to critically examine the progress achieved and challenges faced in bringing human rights to the struggle against poverty over the last twenty years, and to identify current priorities in the field of economic and social rights. Speakers will highlight advances and setbacks for human rights in the ongoing process to adopt a new set of global development goals. They will analyze the increasing influence of the corporate sector in shaping global development processes, and the persistent challenge of holding corporations accountable when they undermine human rights and sustainable development. Drawing on experiences in different countries where human rights legal claims have been brought against unjust economic and social policies, the panel will assess the scope and limitations of litigation as a tool to end poverty and socio-economic injustice. The event also will launch a new CESR publication reflecting on the organization's twentieth anniversary in 2013 and lessons learned from more than two decades of economic and social rights advocacy worldwide.

Opening remarks: Meg Satterthwaite, Professor of Clinical Law, and Faculty Director, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, NYU School of Law

Chair: Alicia Ely Yamin, CESR Board Chair, Lecturer on Global Health, and Policy Director, Fran??ois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University


  • Sakiko Fukuda Parr, Professor of International Affairs at the New School, New York
  • Chris Jochnick, Director, Private Sector Engagement, Oxfam America
  • Irene Khan, Director General, International Development Law Organization
  • Manuel Jos?? Cepeda, Universidad de los Andes & former judge of the Constitutional Court of Colombia

Please RSVP here or email Valid ID and RSVP are required for this event.