Take action on the cost-of-living crisis using a human rights framing. This page offers clear actions for you, and resources to help you take them.
Step 1: Learn... what is a human rights framing?
Human rights are a powerful campaigning tool, but most of us don’t use them much – and we’re missing out! When you are campaigning on an issue like the cost-of-living crisis, or a related policy area/issue it can give your campaign a boost to add in this human rights lens.
In addition to traditional arguments that people often make, such as moral ones (“It is not right to do this…”) or policy arguments (“It costs the government more money than if they…”), you can also add in rights-based arguments. This kind of argument looks something like: “This policy is a violation of people’s human rights. The UK Government is failing in its international obligations.” It doesn’t replace the other arguments but can strengthen them.
Step 2: use rights to add power to your campaigning
During the ‘austerity years’, the UN published a checklist of requirements for proposed policy changes to ensure that States (such as the United Kingdom) are complying with their obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) during economic and financial crises.
Campaign groups can use this checklist now to identify whether a given measure represents a violation of the UK’s legal obligations under ICESCR.
You can download the checklist and some advice on how to use it in your campaigning here.
- Legal framework: The human rights framework provides a strong legal basis for advocacy and campaign work. With a human rights framing, you can point to specific international treaties and national laws to challenge human rights violations. Grounding campaign efforts in a clear set of universally recognised human rights standards can strengthen campaigns. Check out an example of when an organisation has done this.
- Be part of something bigger: The human rights framework is widely recognised and respected. Invoking it can help to build networks between campaigners and organisations working on related issues in different parts of the world. This can increase the visibility of the issue and amplify campaign efforts.
- Long-term impact: Advocating for human rights often involves working for systemic change, rather than just addressing specific human rights violations. A human rights framing can therefore increase your long-term impact. For instance, we are working towards the incorporation of economic, social and cultural rights into UK domestic law, this seeks to create lasting and sustainable change to protect human rights even after the campaign is completed.
Step 3: Hold the Government and public authorities to account
Even though economic, social, and cultural rights are not yet part of domestic law, the UK has signed up to ICESCR and is still legally obliged to uphold our rights. You can help make sure they do so by holding the UK Government, the devolved governments, and other public authorities to account. Below we’ve shared some ways you can do so.
Share evidence and experiences
You can help hold those in power to account by getting involved in processes that involve international monitoring of the UK’s human rights record like:
- The ICESCR review
- The Universal Periodic Review
- Submissions of evidence – see our recent work in this area
For all of these, people and organisations can share their evidence and experiences around the UK’s human rights record, adding their voice to calls for change. You can see some examples of organisations doing this in our recent submission to the UN CESCR.
We will share new opportunities on this page. A review of the UK by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is due in 2023 and the review by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is likely to take place in 2024.
Start now! Take part in our training
We offer free training to help build your knowledge and skills around everyday human rights. Check out our events page and sign up to our newsletter for all the latest information on upcoming trainings.
Following previous sessions, some of our participating CSOs have had this to say:
“It was an excellent orientation into economic, social and cultural rights.”
“I really enjoyed the workshop. It was a safe environment to share our perspectives on issues we are working on.”
“It increased my understanding of the intersectionality of rights.”
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The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) protects rights such as housing, health and education, those essential conditions needed to live a life of dignity and freedom.