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Print version ISSN 1806-6445
Sur, Rev. int. direitos human. vol.6 no.11 São Paulo Dec. 2009
This issue of the Sur Journal was developed in collaboration with the International Network for Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net). This network is a global initiative dedicated to promoting collective work between organizations and scholars around the world that strive to guarantee economic and social justice through human rights. To this end, the Network contributes to the development of a collective voice and joint activities among members, the exchange of information and mutual learning, the promotion of new tools and strategies, and the strengthening of links between different regions, languages, and disciplines.
Four of the articles published in this issue are revised versions of documents produced for the International Strategy Meeting on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the ESCR-Net General Assembly held in Kenya, December 5-8, 2008, that grew out of the intense and valuable debates led by the participants in the event. The objective of these documents was to provide a critical evaluation of human rights work, placing a special focus on economic, social, and cultural rights - and, in particular, the collective work that the members and participants of the ESCR-Net have been developing in different thematic areas. At the same time, the articles sought to evaluate the future opportunities and challenges and discuss potential strategic interventions for ensuring effective human rights protection*.
In this way, we are presenting a dossier in this issue that discusses which challenges and opportunities organizations and social movements fighting for global social rights are facing in certain areas, their main strategies, and a catalogue of recommendations for future action.
In the first article of the dossier, Ann Blyberg presents a brief history of civil society's use of budgetary analysis and explains in what working with a public budget as a tool for enforcing rights consists, in particular, in terms of economic, social, and cultural rights. She discusses different foci - transparency, gender, and right to food - of current work in this field and provides examples of experiences gained by civil society groups from different countries.
Aldo Caliari analyzes the manners in which increased international commerce and transnational financial flows, deregulation, privatization, and reduced State functions, have culminated in the debilitation of States' abilities to adopt active measures necessary for respecting, protecting, and satisfying human rights in their territorial jurisdiction. Based on a general description of tendencies posed by the intersection of commercial, financial, investment and human rights policies, Caliari presents a panorama of the strategies used by diverse organizations for protecting human rights in this context, including some success stories.
Patricia Feeney describes the ups and downs of the process for developing universal standards regarding corporate responsibility for human rights violations. She reflects on the reasons that lead to the disintegration of the Draft UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of 'Protect, Remedy and Respect Framework' adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2008, at the proposal of the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for that subject, John Ruggie.
Finally, Malcolm Langford offers a socio-juridical panorama of the justiciability of economic and social rights in the national arena, formulating some questions regarding their origins, content, and strategies. He also includes the debate surrounding the impact of litigation and an evaluation of the main lessons learned. In conclusion, he offers some ideas about the future development of this field.
Completing this issue of the Journal are five articles, on diverse subjects, and an interview. In the first article, Víctor Abramovich presents a general panorama of some strategic discussions surrounding the role of the Inter-American Human Rights System (IAHRS) in the regional political scenery. The author suggests that, in the future, the IAHRS should expand its political role, setting its sight on the structural patterns that affect the effective exercise of rights by subordinate sectors of the population.
In their article, Viviana Bohórquez Monsalve and Javier Aguirre Román carry out a conceptual reconstruction of the three tensions existing in the concept of human dignity: i) the tension between one's natural and artificial character (or consensual or passive); ii) the tension between one's abstract and concrete character, and iii) the tension between one's universal and particular character.
In the third article, Débora Diniz, Lívia Barbosa, and Wederson Rufino dos Santos seek to demonstrate the way in which the field of disability studies has been consolidated into the concept of disabilities as constituting a social disadvantage. As a result of this new concept, as adopted by the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, disabilities are not summarized as a catalogue of diseases listed by biomedical experts, but rather constitute a concept that denounces the inequality imposed by environments with barriers on bodies with impediments.
Building on a description of violence faced in Colombia by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, transsexual, and transgendered (LGBT) persons and on decisions passed down by the Constitutional Court regarding the protection of free sexuality options, Julieta Lamaitre Ripoll analyzes, in the fourth article, the law's symbolic role and argues that activists in her country have an ambivalent relationship with the law; at the same time as they distrust it, because of its ineffectiveness, they mobilize themselves for legal reform and celebrate the progressive jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court.
For the first time, and at the request of the event's participants, a brief account of the IX International Human Rights Colloquium will be included in the Sur Journal. Furthermore, during the IX Colloquium, an interview was conducted with Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, Director of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) that ends this issue of the Sur Journal. In it, Rindai emphasizes the importance of electoral observation in Africa and insists on the necessity for human rights defenders to see elections as a human rights issue.
We appreciate the support from the Ford Foundation, the ESCR-Net and the Observatório Interdisciplinar de Direitos Humanos of the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) for the publication of the present issue of the Sur Journal.
Finally, we are extremely pleased to report that the Carlos Chagas Foundation will support the Sur Journal in 2010 and 2011. This new cooperation is exceptionally promising, because, in addition to financial support, this prestigious research institution will complement the Journal's editorial efforts.
* Other articles addressing the use of human rights strategies by social movements and base communities and work in the area of women's economic, social, and cultural rights were produced on this occasion and can be directly requested from the Network's secretary by email: email@example.com.