Procedure : 2012/2136(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0057/2013

Texts tabled :

A7-0057/2013

Debates :

Votes :

PV 18/04/2013 - 5.3

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2013)0179

REPORT     
PDF 230kWORD 143k
1 March 2013
PE 496.475v02-00 A7-0057/2013

on the impact of the financial and economic crisis on human rights

(2012/2136(INI))

Committee on Foreign Affairs

Rapporteur: Inese Vaidere

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 OPINION of the Committee on Development
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the impact of the financial and economic crisis on human rights

(2012/2136(INI))

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to the Joint Communication from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 12 December 2011 entitled ‘Human rights and democracy at the heart of EU external action – Towards a more effective approach’ (COM(2011)0886),

–       having regard to the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (11855/12), as adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 25 June 2012,

–       having regard to the European Union’s Guidelines on Human Rights,

–       having regard to the conclusions of the Los Cabos (Mexico) G20 Summit of 18-19 June 2012,

–       having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 13 October 2011 entitled ‘Increasing the impact of EU Development Policy: an Agenda for Change’(COM(2011)0637),

–       having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee of 27 January 2012 entitled ‘Trade, growth and development - Tailoring trade and investment policy for those countries most in need’ (COM(2012)0022),

–       having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–       having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),

–       having regard to the General Affairs Council Conclusions of 24 September 2012,

–       having regard to UN Human Rights Council resolution S-10/1 of 23 February 2009 on the impact of the global economic and financial crises on the universal realisation and effective enjoyment of human rights,

–       having regard to the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, held in New York from 24 to 26 June 2009, and the outcome document adopted by the Conference (as endorsed by UN General Assembly resolution 63/303 of 9 July 2009),

–       having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 8 September 2000 on the Millennium Development Goals(1),

–       having regard to the Rome Principles for Sustainable Global Food Security, adopted by the World Summit on Food Security held in Rome on 16-18 November 2009,

–       having regard to the 2009 UN report by the then UN Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty, Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, currently Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights,

–       having regard to the report of 4 February 2009 by the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context , Raquel Rolnik,

–       having regard to UN policy briefing note No 07 of October 2012 by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, and the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, entitled ‘Underwriting the poor - A Global Fund for Social Protection’,

–       having regard to its resolution of 25 March 2010 on the effects of the global financial and economic crisis on developing countries and on development cooperation(2) ,

–       having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on human rights and social and environmental standards in international trade agreements(3),

–       having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on a digital freedom strategy in EU foreign policy(4),

–       having regard to its resolution of 8 June 2011 on investing in the future: a new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for a competitive, sustainable and inclusive Europe(5),

–       having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2011 on the financial, economic and social crisis: recommendations concerning the measures and initiatives to be taken(6),

–       having regard to the Commission Communication of 13 October 2011 entitled ‘The future approach to EU budget support to third countries’ (COM(2011)0638),

–       having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2012 on an Agenda for Change: the future of EU development policy(7),

–       having regard to the Global Monitoring Report 2012 of 20 April 2012 by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund,

–       having regard to the joint report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the World Bank of 19 April 2012 entitled ‘Inventory of Policy Responses to the Financial and Economic Crisis’,

–       having regard to the World of Work Report of 29 April 2012 by the International Labour Organisation, entitled ‘Better Jobs for a Better Economy’,

–       having regard to the report of the International Labour Organisation entitled ‘Global employment trends for youth 2012’ of May 2012,

–       having regard to Rules 48 and 119(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–       having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A7-0057/2013),

A.     whereas, although the financial and economic crisis affects, to varying degrees, all regions in the world, including the European Union, the scope of the present resolution is to assess the impact of the financial and economic crisis in third countries, with the main focus on developing and least developed countries;

B.     whereas the financial and economic crisis is in fact a global systemic crisis and has become intertwined with numerous other crises, such as the food, environmental and social crises;

C.     whereas not only economic and social rights but also political rights are affected by the crisis when governments in some cases limit freedom of expression or association in the context of growing discontent and economic hardship, as reflected, in particular, by popular protests such as those which took place in North Africa and the Middle East in 2011;

D.     whereas civil and political rights are at risk as a result of the brutal repression of social protests in many countries around the world; stresses that the right to information and the right to participate in government policy decisions concerning measures to fight the crisis must be respected;

E.     whereas, although the impact of the crisis on civil and political rights has yet to be fully evaluated, it is clear that it has magnified social unrest, leading sometimes to violent repression, and has multiplied the failures to respect basic rights, such as freedom of expression and the right to information;

F.     whereas the financial and economic crisis has had a negative impact on developing and least developed countries, mainly reflected in shrinking demand for their exports, high levels of indebtedness, the risk of reduced foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow and declining Official Development Assistance (ODA), also affecting human rights since fewer resources are available to ensure social and economic rights, and more people are being driven into poverty;

G.     whereas the global economic crisis has had a major impact on living standards in the developing world over the last 10 years, and whereas the rate of inequality has increased in one quarter of developing economies, thus limiting access to education, food, land, and credit;

H.     whereas the EU’s collective ODA decreased from EUR 53.5 billion in 2010 to EUR 53.1 billion in 2011, bringing the EU ODA level to 0.42% of GNI, down from the 2010 outcome of 0.44% of GNI; whereas the EU and its Member States nevertheless remain the world’s leading providers of ODA;

I.      whereas the objective of the trade agreements signed by the EU with partner countries is, inter alia, to promote and expand trade and investment, and to improve market access, with a view to increasing economic growth, cooperation and social cohesion, reducing poverty, creating new employment opportunities, improving working conditions and raising living standards, and thereby ultimately contributing to the fulfilment of human rights;

J.      whereas proper monitoring and practical enforcement of the human rights clause of each trade agreement must be guaranteed; whereas any systematic violation of the human rights clause enshrined in the EU’s trade agreements entitles each signatory party to take ‘appropriate measures’, which may include totally or partially suspending or terminating the agreement or imposing restrictions;

K.     whereas the Aid-for-Trade Initiative has shown positive results, contributing to the development of better trading capacity and economic infrastructure in partner countries;

L.     whereas the failure to put into place adequate measures to prevent, detect and root out all forms of corruption is one of the reasons for the financial crisis; whereas widespread corruption in the public and private sectors, both in developing and developed countries, hampers effective, broad and equal protection and promotion of civil, political and social rights; whereas corruption impedes democracy and the rule of law and directly affects the population since it increases the cost of public services, lowers their quality and often restricts poor people’s access to water, education, health care and many other key services;

M.    whereas the current economic crisis carries significant implications for democracy and governance assistance by the European Union and other major donors; whereas economic difficulties for donor countries are likely to encourage reductions in overseas assistance; whereas, however, the global crisis makes it all the more important to sustain support for political reform and democratic development in third countries;

N.     whereas the financial and economic crisis is also having a disproportionate effect on the rights of specific groups of people, particularly the poorest and marginalised;

O.     whereas the rights of the poorest people have been most affected by the crisis; whereas, according to the World Bank, 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty on less than USD 1.25 a day; whereas the World Bank estimates that, even in the event of a rapid recovery, some additional 71 million people in the world will remain in extreme poverty by 2020 as a result of the economic crisis; whereas three-quarters of the world’s poor live in middle-income countries;

P.     whereas the financial crisis has spread around the world through a variety of transmission channels, interacting with other crises (such as the food and fuel crises) at different speeds and intensities; notes with concern that, owing to the crisis, the World Bank and the UN estimate that between 55 and 103 million more people have to live in poverty, thereby jeopardising further achievement of human rights;

Q.     whereas people who are living in poverty and are extremely vulnerable need effective and affordable access to justice in order to be able to claim their rights or challenge violations of human rights committed against them; whereas lack of access to a fair trial and judicial process further subjects them to economic and social vulnerability;

R.     whereas global unemployment reached 200 million in 2012 – an increase of 27 million since the start of the crisis in 2008, jeopardising the right to work and resulting in a decrease in household incomes; whereas worsening economic conditions and unemployment may have an impact on the health of individuals, which can cause a lack of self-esteem or even depression;

S.     whereas more than 40% of workers employed in developing countries work in the informal sector, leading in many cases to unstable and unequal working conditions without any social protection, and only 20% of their families have access to any form of social protection;

T.     whereas because of the crisis, women’s rights have deteriorated through, for example, additional unpaid work and increased violence; whereas the development of public services and establishment of effective social protection systems are essential in ensuring respect for women’s economic and social rights;

U.     whereas women often experience unequal treatment in the workplace compared to men, in terms of access to employment, salary, dismissal, social security benefits and rehiring;

V.     whereas the crisis disproportionately affects young people; whereas, globally, 74.8 million young people aged 15–24 were unemployed in 2011, an increase of more than 4 million since 2007, with an exceptionally high level of unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa;

W.    whereas, in low- and middle-income countries, there are around 200 million young people who have not completed primary school and have thus been denied their right to education;

X.     whereas children are particularly affected by the financial and economic crisis, with their circumstances often aggravated by the vulnerabilities and risks experienced by their caregivers;

Y.     whereas, globally, 61 million primary-school age children are not attending school and the progress towards achieving universal primary education has stalled since 2008; whereas sub-Saharan Africa, with 31 million children out of school, accounts for half of the world’s total number, and more girls than boys are forced to leave school in order to contribute to household work because of the pressures of poverty;

Z.     whereas empirical evidence suggests that, in times of economic crisis, when education budgets are reduced, more children will prematurely leave school or not attend at all to join the workforce; whereas over 190 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are forced to work, with one in four children aged 5-17 being used as child labourers in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to one in eight in Asia-Pacific and one in ten in Latin America and the Caribbean; whereas girls in particular are at a higher risk of being taken out of school and forced into child labour or domestic work at home; whereas this creates a negative impact on child welfare and the right to education, and in the long term affects the quality of the labour force and overall development;

AA.  whereas rising and volatile food prices caused by financial speculation on the derivatives markets are affecting millions of people struggling to meet basic needs; whereas since 2007 global progress in reducing hunger has slowed; whereas 868 million people are suffering from chronic malnutrition, with the vast majority (850 million people) living in developing countries; whereas the coping strategies adopted by vulnerable households includes cutting down on the quantity and/or quality of food eaten at critical stages of child development or during pregnancy, with long-lasting effects on physical growth and mental health;

BA.  whereas, in the face of the rising demand for agricultural goods destined for food production and increasingly for energy and industrial use, the competition for land, a resource that is becoming more and more scarce, is also growing; whereas national and international investors use long-term purchase or lease agreements to secure vast tracts of land, which might cause socio-economic and environmental problems for the countries affected and especially for the local population;

CA.  whereas the impact of the economic crisis can be particularly acute for older people who may be at greater risk of losing their jobs and are less likely to be retrained and re-employed; whereas the crisis can limit their access to affordable healthcare;

DA.  whereas the rising price of medicines (by up to 30%) is having a negative impact on the right to health of the most vulnerable, notably children, the elderly and persons with disabilities;

EA.   whereas, globally, 214 million migrant workers are now, as a result of the economic crisis, more affected by unequal treatment, underpayment or non-payment of wages, and physical abuse;

FA.   whereas remittances, microfinance and foreign direct investment are means of alleviating the shock of the crisis on the economies of developing countries;

GA.  whereas trafficking in human beings is a modern form of slavery and a severe violation of fundamental human rights; whereas traffickers are exploiting their potential victims’ need to find a decent job and escape poverty; whereas women and girls account for two thirds of the victims of trafficking in human beings;

HA.  whereas, globally, 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity; whereas access to energy, in particular electricity, is vital to the achievement of several Millennium Development Goals since, inter alia, it reduces poverty through improved productivity, generates greater income and micro-enterprise development, and leads to economic and social empowerment;

IA.    whereas the agricultural sector provides employment and livelihood for more than 70 % of the labour force in developing countries; whereas the share of ODA allocated to agriculture is falling all the time and currently accounts for only 5 % of the total; whereas, in resource-poor low-income countries, growth in the agricultural sector is five times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in other sectors (eleven times in sub-Saharan Africa); whereas rural development and measures designed to support agriculture, in particular local production, are key elements of all development strategies and are vital for eradicating poverty, hunger and underdevelopment;

JA.   whereas aggregate data often used to describe the impact of the crisis can hide huge disparities between and within countries; whereas it is difficult to access the real-time data necessary to fully understand the impact of the economic crisis on regions and vulnerable groups; whereas there is a need for collaborative and innovative data collection and analysis at global level;

1.      Reiterates its strong determination to defend and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms – civil, political, economic, social and cultural – as a core principle of the European Union’s foreign policy and underpinning all other policies, as enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon, in particular in the context of the economic and financial crisis;

2.      Stresses that human rights include the right to food, water, education, adequate housing, land, decent work, health and social security; condemns the fact that these rights have been under attack in a number of countries since the crisis began; recognises that worsening poverty is the main factor preventing people from asserting these rights; calls for the EU to invest more effort and money in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), given the evidence that the world is falling far short of the goals set for 2015;

3.      Insists on the fact that the response to the crisis must include internationally coordinated multilateral cooperation at both the regional and the inter-regional levels with a strong human rights-based approach at its core;

4.      Recalls the duty of governments to respect, protect and fulfil human rights, including economic and social rights, as well as digital freedoms, at all times, as stated in international human rights law; calls on governments to guard against all forms of discrimination and to ensure basic human rights for all; deplores the existing gap between legal recognition and political enforcement of these rights;

5.      Reaffirms that while the global economic crisis poses a severe threat to the fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights, there is no justification for states, whatever their level of income, to compromise on their obligation to respect fundamental human rights; stresses that governments have, at all times, an obligation to ensure ‘minimum essential levels’ of the social and economic rights necessary for living in dignity;

6.      Urges governments to place the interests of the most vulnerable sections of the population at the centre of policy responses by using a human rights framework in the decision-making process; calls on governments to pursue all the necessary measures to ensure access to justice for all, with a particular focus on people living in poverty, who need to have a full understanding of their rights and the means to realise them; calls on the EU to step up the fight against impunity and its support for the rule of law and justice reform programmes in partner countries, to enable an active civil society to form the basis of any democratisation process;

7.      Welcomes the EU’s commitment to promoting economic, social and cultural rights and to strengthening efforts to ensure universal and non-discriminatory access to basic services, with a particular focus on poor and vulnerable groups, as set out in the Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy; looks forward to seeing this reflected in concrete measures, including in the human rights country strategies drafted by the EU Delegations;

8.      Insists that the EU Special Representative for Human Rights should ensure that human rights are at the forefront of policy initiatives, with a particular emphasis on the most vulnerable groups in the societies of third countries;

9.      Stresses the importance of ensuring that support for human rights and democracy promotion is not undermined by a decrease in the budget for such projects in response to the crisis; in this connection, emphasises the need to offer steady support to projects financed by the European Instrument for Human Rights and Democracy (EIDHR) for human rights defenders, including those working for economic and social rights, such as the rights of workers and migrants, and stresses the importance of promoting human rights education;

10.    Reminds governments of their duty to ensure that civil society organisations (CSOs) possess the necessary means to carry out their role within society, and not to use the current crisis as an excuse to reduce support for CSOs; calls for sufficient funding of the Civil Society Facility post-2013 to further strengthen civil society’s capacity in partner countries;

11.    Stresses that the Commission should include human rights provisions in impact assessments for legislative and non-legislative proposals, implementing measures, and trade and investment agreements that have a significant economic, social and environmental impact;

12.    Notes with concern that the global economic crisis is jeopardising Official Development Aid spending by EU Member States; recalls that the costs of the global economic crisis are being borne disproportionately by poor countries, despite having originated in the richer countries; urges, therefore, the EU and its Member States to maintain and deliver on their existing bilateral and multilateral ODA commitments and on the targets identified in the UN Millennium Declaration, especially by addressing those areas which suffer from a lack of progress at present and to ensure efficient use of development aid in order to guarantee the best value for money and consistency between human rights and development policies; points out that, through their potential contribution to official development assistance, the emerging countries also have an important role to play;

13.    Urges the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States to model crisis responses and development policy on a human rights-based approach, as set out in the Commission’s Communication ‘The Agenda for change: the future of EU development policy’(8), and in the Parliament’s resolution on the Communication(9);

14.    Stresses the importance of policy coherence and coordination in order to attain the objective of poverty reduction and to increase the credibility and the impact of EU external assistance;

15.    Reiterates that budget support to partner countries and all trade agreements should be conditional on respect for human rights and democracy in the partner countries; takes the view that donors and lenders should, in particular, respond in a coordinated manner to reported cases of fraud and corruption and foster reforms in those countries towards good governance and transparency; urges the EU and the Member States to make systematic risk assessments of widespread corruption in partner countries, which may hamper the desired effects of development and humanitarian projects;

16.    Calls on developing countries to devise economic policies which promote sustainable growth and development, create jobs, place vulnerable social groups at the forefront of policy responses, and base development on a sound fiscal system that rules out tax evasion, which is necessary for mobilising domestic resources in a more efficient and equitable manner;

17.    Encourages foreign and domestic investors to instigate strong Corporate Social Responsibility policies in all countries, with an emphasis on sustainable development and good governance and with a clear focus on human rights, decent work, labour standards, freedom of association, collective bargaining and other social considerations;

18.    Encourages developing countries to use trade preferences afforded by the EU within the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) framework in order to boost their economy, diversify their exports and improve their competitiveness; recalls their obligation in the GSP+ framework, to ratify and effectively implement the core international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance, which are listed under this scheme;

19.    Calls on the EU to support and adopt the international target of universal energy access by 2030 as this will contribute to economic empowerment and social benefits for the poorest and most vulnerable in developing countries;

20.    Welcomes the introduction of a specific enforcement mechanism to monitor implementation of human rights clauses in ‘new generation’ bilateral and regional EU agreements; welcomes efforts to improve analysis of the human rights situation in third countries when launching or concluding trade and/or investment agreements; notes with concern that the current human rights monitoring provisions in the relevant agreements are not clearly defined or sufficiently ambitious; calls on the EU to adopt an unfaltering principled stance in insisting that its partner countries comply with the human rights clauses in international agreements;

21.    Welcomes the refocusing of the EU’s aid towards least developed countries, urging middle-income countries to commit an increasing proportion of their fiscal revenues to social protection schemes and the fulfilment of human rights for the poorest and most vulnerable;

22.    Calls on the international community to provide adequate assistance to governments in sub-Saharan Africa in order to prevent the financial crisis worsening the humanitarian crisis in some countries in the region;

23.    Calls on governments to respect their obligations towards citizens in terms of the good stewardship of natural resources;

24.    Urges governments to take all the necessary measures to reduce extremes in income inequality and put in place conditions that will enable those currently living in extreme poverty to fully realise their potential and live in dignity;

25.    Urges governments in developing countries to elaborate social protection schemes, since these are essential for protecting the most vulnerable and building resilience against economic and environmental shocks and have proved to be an investment in society rather than a cost, as shown by social welfare programmes, such as Brazil’s bolsa familia or demand-driven public works schemes like India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS); stresses that the success of these cash transfer schemes depends largely on conditionality such as school enrolment and attendance as well as health aspects, most notably the vaccination of children;

26.    Welcomes the joint initiative launched by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, and the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, to strengthen social protection systems in developing countries through a Global Fund for Social Protection, by means of which international solidarity can be transposed to benefit the least developed countries; asks the Commission to provide support for these programmes;

27.    Considers that investment in sustainable agriculture in developing countries is an important accelerant for combating food insecurity and boosting overall growth; urges governments to support responsible private-sector investment and small-scale food producers, especially women and agricultural cooperatives, which are the most effective in reducing extreme poverty by increasing returns on labour; stresses the importance of investment in rural infrastructure that reduces transaction costs and enables farmers to reach markets and generate more income;

28.    Calls on governments to prevent national and international financial speculators investing in land from having a negative impact on small-scale farmers and local producers by causing displacement, environmental problems and food and income insecurity; recalls in this regard that secure employment and nutrition are conditions for respect for human rights, democratisation and any political engagement;

29.    Reminds governments and the private sector alike to respect informal and traditional land ownership, as well as land-use rights; stresses that vulnerable groups such as indigenous peoples are most in need of protection, as land is often the only resource from which they can derive their subsistence;

30.    Urges governments not to cut or limit food subsidies since these subsidies can limit the prevalence of hunger and improve nutrition in recipient households;

31.    Calls for more transparency on the commodity markets to avoid price volatility of agrarian raw materials caused by excessive speculation, and underlines the need for greater international attention and enhanced coordination on this issue;

32.    Reminds governments that youth employment policies should focus not only on job creation, but also on ensuring a level of income and working conditions that are appropriate for an adequate standard of living;

33.    Expresses its support for the global introduction of a financial transaction tax, which can be an innovative financing mechanism for development, ultimately contributing to the universal fulfilment of economic and social rights; encourages all Member States to support the EU budget proposal for a financial transaction tax;

34.    Stresses that combating illicit financial flows, tax havens and speculation on commodities are necessary steps for the achievement of human rights, especially in low-income countries;

35.    Believes that developing countries should introduce innovative financing systems for economic policies; encourages developing countries to develop financial mechanisms connected with their own resources;

36.    Calls for an increase in the competitiveness of enterprises in developing countries, making for a reduction in unemployment and the promotion of employment policies;

37.    Considers of the utmost importance the strengthening of skills development and training policies, including non-formal education, internships and on-the-job training, which provide support for a successful transition from school to the labour market;

38.    Stresses that the events of the Arab Spring have revealed a number of shortfalls in EU policies towards the region, including the situation of young people, who face mass unemployment and a lack of prospects in their countries; calls on the EU to take more effective action to tackle the effects of the financial crisis in third countries, including by taking due account of reports by civil society organisations;

39.    Urges both governments of countries with high child-labour rates and international donors to promote preventative measures, such as expanding school access, improving school quality and reducing school costs in order to decrease poverty rates and encourage economic growth;

40.    Urges governments to provide second-chance education programmes for those who have not attended primary school in order to equip them with literacy and numeracy skills, as well as livelihood skills that can help them to escape poverty;

41.    Urges governments to step up child protection support measures, including measures to tackle violence against children and promote awareness-raising among government officials on violence against children;

42.    Recalls that all recovery policies will need a strong gender component; calls, as a matter of urgency, for the enforcement of policies and practices ensuring that more women enter the labour market in jobs with decent working conditions and social protection; calls for public investment in care services to reduce women’s unpaid domestic and care work; insists that labour market policies must address the lack of parental time for care and nurture;

43.    Stresses that women must be more involved in social dialogue and decision-making processes; reiterates the fact that education for girls and women and gender empowerment are essential;

44.    Urges governments to tackle critical human rights issues faced by the elderly, especially in times of economic downturn, such as long-term unemployment, age-related employment discrimination, income insecurity and unaffordable healthcare; calls on governments to put in place innovative new mechanisms for flexible workforce participation, such as entitling older people to social pensions while working part-time, retraining programmes or fiscal measures aimed at stimulating the employment of the elderly;

45.    Calls for the transaction costs for remittances to be reduced and for it to be made easier, for example, for migrants to open a bank account in host countries;

46.    Calls on governments to ensure that the fight against trafficking in human beings remains high on their agenda during times of economic and financial crisis; urges governments to fully implement legislation to prosecute traffickers and smugglers, expand support and legal assistance to victims of human trafficking, and develop closer international cooperation;

47.    Welcomes the discussions within the UN High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda with the participation of the European Commissioner for Development; considers that the post-2015 framework should prioritise the universal implementation of human rights, take into consideration the impact of the financial and economic crisis, notably on the poorest and the most vulnerable, and honour poverty reduction commitments; urges all involved parties to consider setting quantifiable targets and indicators, as well as qualitative and outcome-based indicators;

48.    Emphasises that there is a need for further research and analysis on the impact of the financial and economic crisis on various regions, including in the EU and in its relations with third countries, and a need to improve the monitoring of early signals of global and regional crises; stresses that disaggregated data should be more prominent in research and policy planning in order to better capture and address the problems facing the poorest and most vulnerable members of society; calls on the Commission and the Member States to provide financial support for the UN innovation laboratory ‘Global Pulse’, launched by the UN Secretary General in 2009, with the aim of collecting and analysing the data required for a better understanding of the impact of the financial and economic crisis on vulnerable sections of the population and providing appropriate policy responses;

49.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

(1)

http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm

(2)

OJ C 4 E, 7.1.2011, p. 34.

(3)

OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 31.

(4)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0470.

(5)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0266.

(6)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0331.

(7)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0386.

(8)

COM(2011)0637.

(9)

P7_TA(2012)0386.


OPINION of the Committee on Development (23.1.2013)

for the Committee on Foreign Affairs

on the impact of the financial and economic crisis on human rights

(2012/2136(INI))

Rapporteur: Keith Taylor

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Development calls on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.  Highlights that the economic and financial crisis is a threat to human rights as a whole, including civil and political rights; underlines in particular that it has had detrimental effects on access to food, health care and education for the most vulnerable groups in society, in both urban and rural areas, and has resulted in dramatically increased poverty levels globally; recalls that governments have a duty to ensure respect for economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights and to provide protection against abuses by, for example, corporate and other private actors, through the implementation of the UN guiding principles on business and human rights, and to investigate financial crimes by these actors; likewise, points to the EUs responsibility to propose partnership arrangements which contribute to the sustainable development of the host country and to employment, including minimum social standards;

2.  Observes that the financial crisis has spread across the world through varying transmission channels, interacted with other crises (such as food and fuel crises) at different speeds and intensities; notes with concern that owing to the crisis, the World Bank and the UN estimate that between 55 and 103 million more people have to live in poverty, thereby jeopardising further achievement of human rights;

3.  Notes with concern that, according to World Bank and IMF estimates, the rate at which poverty is being reduced in sub-Saharan Africa has slowed; that approximately 30,000 to 50,000 more children died in SSA in 2009 as a consequence of the global financial crisis;

4.  Notes with concern that owing to the crisis, women’s rights have deteriorated through, for example, additional unpaid work and increased violence; reasserts accordingly that the development of public services and effective social protection systems are essential in ensuring respect of women’s economic and social rights;

5.  Recalls that the principle of non-discrimination requires, especially in a context of crisis, positive remedial steps to counter disproportionate impacts on women, indigenous people and other systematically disadvantaged sectors of the population, while ensuring that these anti-crisis measures benefit the most disadvantaged and vulnerable communities;

6.  Stresses that social investment has made it possible to protect poor people more effectively against the crisis and increases poor people’s resilience to shocks; highlights as well the fact that, despite the crisis, some developing countries’ growth rate is close to 4%; underlines that countries with effective systems of domestic taxation reduce their vulnerability to sudden losses of trade taxes or foreign capital inflows; urges, therefore, the EU to help developing countries set up progressive and effective taxation systems to mitigate the impact of the crisis on public revenues in order to help guarantee the funds needed for social protection programmes and to ensure equitable redistribution of existing resources; urges the EU to continue to take a hard line on conditionality and effectiveness of its development aid, in particular with regard to countries where corruption is further exacerbating the impact of the crisis in terms of undermining human rights;

7.  Underlines that, while the people in developed countries are feeling the impacts of the economical and financial crisis, people in the developing world are bearing the brunt of the crisis, with few safety nets to protect them; calls for higher involvement from the EU to help mitigate these effects in the developing countries;

8.  Notes with concern that civil and political rights are at risk as a result of brutal repressions of social protests in many countries around the world; stresses that the right to information and the right to participation in government policy decisions concerning the measures to fight the crisis have to be respected;

9.  Deplores that, while the international community acknowledges the indivisibility and equal importance of all human rights, ESC rights remain difficult to enforce in practice; believes that full use should be made of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) that allows for individual complaints of alleged violations of ESC rights;

10. Emphasizes that social tensions have led to increasing discrimination and xenophobia towards minorities and migrant workers who belong to the most vulnerable groups affected by the crisis and whose needs have to be taken into account responding to the crisis;

11. Reaffirms that while the global economic crisis poses a severe threat to the fulfilment of ESC rights, there is no justification for states, whatever their level of income, to compromise on their obligation to respect fundamental human rights; stresses that governments have, at all times, an obligation to ensure ‘minimum essential levels’ of the social and economic rights necessary for living in dignity;

12. Stresses that gender equality is a tool for fighting poverty amongst women, as it has a positive impact on productivity and sustainable societies and leads to greater participation of women in the labour market, which in turn has many social, economic and ecological benefits;

13. Underscores that the fulfilment of social and economic rights depends on, inter alia, the capacity of the state to regulate the financial market and to allocate resources in an equitable manner through, for example, an effective, transparent, and progressive taxation system;

14. Stresses that governments must make not only an economic, but also a social response to the crisis; states that, in order to support developing countries’ efforts, subsequent partnership agreements must place greater emphasis on promotion of better governance;

15. Deplores that, in times of crisis, the rights of women and the rights of minorities are severely breached and insists that increased attention is given during these times to the fight against discrimination on the basis of sex, religion or belief, racial or ethnic origin, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity;

16. Stresses that combating illicit financial flows, tax havens and speculation on commodities are necessary steps for the achievement of human rights, especially in low-income countries;

17. Stresses that the financial and economic crisis is also having a disproportionate effect on the rights of specific groups of people, particularly the poorest and marginalized;

18. Underscores that, while the impact of the crisis on civil and political rights has yet to be fully evaluated, it is clear that the crisis has magnified social unrest, leading sometimes to violent repression, and has multiplied the failures to respect basic rights such as, for instance, freedom of expression and the right to information;

19. Recalls that the fundamental values of freedom, human dignity, social justice and non-discrimination are essential for sustainable economic and social development; in particular, stresses the universality of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda as a fundamental principle to ensure fair globalisation; calls on the EU to support a human-rights based response to the crisis and to actively contribute to the establishment of social protection floors in developing countries, while respecting their individual approaches with regard to implementation;

20. Recalls that fulfilling human rights implies, inter alia, a universal social protection floor with minimum wages, full application of international labour standards and a safeguard against extreme poverty;

21. Notes that about 5.1 billion people, 75% of the world population, are not covered by adequate social security, 2.6 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation and 884 million people lack access to adequate source of drinking water, 873 million suffer from chronic hunger, nearly 9 million children under the age of five die every year from largely preventable diseases and that 100 million people are pushed below the poverty line when compelled to pay for health care;

22. Points out that Sub-Saharan countries are particularly vulnerable to external shocks because of the limited diversification of their economies and exports and the dominance of primary commodities; stresses equally that illicit financial flows are a major development challenge to Africa, which hampers fulfilment of human rights; encourages African countries to initiate systematic audits of national debts; urges once more the EU to make the fight against tax havens and corruption one of its top priorities and to strongly encourage international finance and development institution to do the same;

23. Urges the Commission and the Member States to ensure that human rights are genuinely protected in the remit of any trade and investment agreements concluded or revised, through binding and non-negotiable human rights clauses; stresses therefore that Member States shall not allow themselves to be locked into deals that impair their ability to comply with their human rights commitments for the sake of securing access to export markets or attracting investors; insists that the Commission conducts systematic human rights impact assessments of trade and investment agreements to help ensure effective enforcement of human rights;

24. Notes with concern that the global economic crisis is jeopardising Official Development Aid spending by EU Member States; recalls that the costs of the global economic crisis are being borne disproportionately by poor countries, despite having originated in the richer countries; urges, therefore, the EU and its Member States to maintain and deliver on their existing bilateral and multilateral ODA commitments and on the targets identified in the UN Millennium Declaration; and points out that, through their potential contribution to official development assistance, the emerging countries also have an important role to play;

25. Reasserts that decisions within the remit of international institutions, such as IMF, the World Bank or WTO shall be compatible with the full range of human rights obligations enshrined in international human rights treaties.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

22.1.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

24

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Thijs Berman, Michael Cashman, Corina Creţu, Véronique De Keyser, Nirj Deva, Leonidas Donskis, Charles Goerens, Filip Kaczmarek, Miguel Angel Martínez Martínez, Gay Mitchell, Norbert Neuser, Bill Newton Dunn, Maurice Ponga, Birgit Schnieber-Jastram, Michèle Striffler, Alf Svensson, Keith Taylor, Eleni Theocharous, Patrice Tirolien, Anna Záborská, Iva Zanicchi

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Enrique Guerrero Salom, Gesine Meissner, Judith Sargentini


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

19.2.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

47

3

17

Members present for the final vote

Pino Arlacchi, Elmar Brok, Jerzy Buzek, Tarja Cronberg, Arnaud Danjean, Mário David, Mark Demesmaeker, Michael Gahler, Marietta Giannakou, Ana Gomes, Andrzej Grzyb, Anna Ibrisagic, Liisa Jaakonsaari, Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Jelko Kacin, Tunne Kelam, Evgeni Kirilov, Maria Eleni Koppa, Andrey Kovatchev, Paweł Robert Kowal, Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler, Eduard Kukan, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Vytautas Landsbergis, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Krzysztof Lisek, Sabine Lösing, Ulrike Lunacek, Willy Meyer, Francisco José Millán Mon, Alexander Mirsky, Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, Raimon Obiols, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Alojz Peterle, Mirosław Piotrowski, Bernd Posselt, Hans-Gert Pöttering, Cristian Dan Preda, Fiorello Provera, Libor Rouček, Tokia Saïfi, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, György Schöpflin, Adrian Severin, Marek Siwiec, Sophocles Sophocleous, Laurence J.A.J. Stassen, Charles Tannock, Inese Vaidere, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, Geoffrey Van Orden, Sir Graham Watson

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Marije Cornelissen, Anne Delvaux, Barbara Lochbihler, Monica Luisa Macovei, Emilio Menéndez del Valle, Potito Salatto, Marietje Schaake, Helmut Scholz, Indrek Tarand, Traian Ungureanu, Ivo Vajgl

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Rui Tavares, Claudiu Ciprian Tănăsescu

Last updated: 16 September 2013Legal notice