On 18th and 19th November, the Universal Rights Group (URG GVA & URG LAC) and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights of Columbia University (ISHR) hosted a two-day expert consultation at Columbia University. The meeting convened former Special Procedures mandate-holders on economic, social, and cultural rights; as well as key stakeholders of these mandates, including civil society representatives, human rights defenders, and international experts to share their experiences and insights on the influence of those mandates.
The purpose of the roundtable was twofold: a discussion on lessons learnt to develop policy recommendations, as well as an in-depth discussion of a case study addressing water shut-offs, foreclosures, and concerns over affordability of water, sanitation, and housing in Detroit.
The meeting had the participation of around 20 experts from a variety of backgrounds, including former mandate-holders, civil society (both at the international and the grassroots level), foundations, think tanks, the UN, and academia. Some are experts on ESCRs, others provided expertise on institutional questions, while others brought direct experience at the grassroots level and in linking local and global advocacy.
During the consultation, participants discussed and analysed a number of themes, including, inter alia, (1) the Detroit case-study; (2) appointment of mandate-holders, their background and skillsets; (3) cooperation among mandate-holders and with other stakeholders; (4) the financing of the work of the Special Procedures; (5) strategies that ESCRs mandate-holders adopt.
The meeting allowed the URG and the ISHR to gain direct insights from a group of experts on ESCRs on the success factors, obstacles, and opportunities of improvement of the Special Procedures mandate holders in the area of ESCRs.
The conclusions, reflections, and concrete recommendations emanating from this consultation will be published, along with further research and analysis, in a joint policy brief by the URG and the ISHR. The report, along with short videos highlighting some of the main findings of this project, will be widely shared with key stakeholders in Geneva, New York, and in Latin America.