Education International
Education International

Austerity stripping away Europe's human rights, watchdog says

published 13 January 2014 updated 15 January 2014

Commissioner for Human Rights releases a research paper on the impact of the economic crisis on the protection of human rights.

“Many governments in Europe imposing austerity measures have forgotten about their human rights obligations, especially the social and economic rights of the most vulnerable, the need to ensure access to justice, and the right to equal treatment. Regrettably, international lenders have also neglected to incorporate human rights considerations into many of their assistance programmes,” said  Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a research paper about the impact of the economic crisis on the protection of human rights.

Cuts in child and family benefits, health care and education have also added a strain on millions of families. An increasing number of children are dropping out of school to find employment and support their families, risking life-long setbacks in educational achievement, and providing the conditions for job insecurity coupled with the re-emergence of child labour and exploitation.”

The Commissioner stresses the urgent need to reinvigorate the European social model based on the foundations of human dignity, intergenerational solidarity and access to justice for all. "Governments should focus on reducing youth and long-term unemployment as a priority and on upholding social protection floors for basic income and health care during the crisis. Effective access to justice for all must be guaranteed during economic downturns by maintaining the judiciary and the legal aid system." Furthermore, governments should carry out systematic human rights and equality impact assessments of social and economic policies and budgets, especially as regards vulnerable groups of people.