£23.99 | $41.95

10 November 2011
ISBN: 9781848138742
272 pages
234 x 156mm

Development, Human Rights, Latin America

Economic Policy and Human Rights

Holding Governments to Account

Contributions by Sarah Gammage, Nursel Aydiner-Avsar, Lourdes Colinas, Alberto Serdan-Rosales, Gabriel Lara, James Heintz, Carlos Salas, Daniela Ramirez Camacho, Roberto Constantino, and Kristina Parker and volume editor Diane Elson and Radhika Balakrishnan

Economic Policy and Human Rights presents a powerful critique of three decades of neoliberal economic policies, assessed from the perspective of human rights norms. In doing so, it brings together two areas of thought and action that have hitherto been separate: progressive economics concerned with promoting economic justice and human development; and human rights analysis and advocacy.

Focussing on in-depth comparative case studies of the USA and Mexico and looking at issues such as public expenditure, taxation and international trade, the book shows that heterodox economic analysis benefits greatly from a deeper understanding of a human rights framework. This is something progressive economists have often been skeptical of, regarding it as too deeply entrenched in 'Western' norms, discourses and agendas. Such a categorical rejection is unwarranted. Instead, human rights norms can provide an invaluable ethical and accountability framework, challenging a narrow focus on efficiency and growth.

A vital book for anyone interested in human rights and harnessing economics to create a better world.


'Economists have long struggled to find frameworks for integrating concerns of justice with economic policy formation. This refreshingly novel approach to assessing the effectiveness of macroeconomic policy offers a timely alternative lens that identifies human well-being as the main guidepost. Its most striking achievement lies in clearly delineating the linkages between human rights and macroeconomic policies, providing a tool to hold governments accountable to their human rights commitments.' - Stephanie Seguino, University of Vermont

'An insightful exploration of the relationship between human rights and economic policies. This book asks how we should evaluate economic policies in the light of the human rights commitments that states have signed up to, and offers practical tools for assessing the justice of alternative economic policy choices. In the current economic climate, the messages and frameworks for analysis should be taken seriously by policy makers and their advisors. For activists and advocacy groups, it offers the language to counter economic policy choices that undermine progress towards the realization of rights.' - Sarah Cook, Director, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

'Recommended reading for anyone committed to social and economic justice.' - Ceasefire

Table of Contents

Economic Policies and Human Rights Obligations: An Introduction - Radhika Balakrishnan & Diane Elson Essex
1. Fiscal and Monetary Policy and the Right to Work and to Just and Favourable Conditions of Work: Mexico -Sarah Gammage & Kristina Pirker
2. Human Rights Dimensions of Fiscal and Monetary Policies: United States - Radhika Balakrishnan & James Heintz
3. Human Rights and Public Expenditure in Mexico - Daniela Ramírez Camacho
4. Human Rights and Public Expenditure in USA - Nursel Aydiner-Avsar and Diane Elson
5. Taxation and Economic and Social Rights in Mexico - Lourdes Colinas & Roberto Constantino
6. Taxation and Economic and Social Rights in USA - Radhika Balakrishnan
7. Trade Policy and Human Rights: Mexico - Alberto-Serdan-Rosales and Carlos Salas
8. Trade Policy and Human Rights Obligations of the USA: the Case of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) - Nursel Aydiner-Avsar and Diane Elson
9. Regulation: the Case of Pension Reform and Human Rights in Mexico - Gabriel Lara
10. Regulation: the Case of Pension Reform and Human Rights in USA - Radhika Balakrishnan

About the Authors:

Radhika Balakrishnan, Executive Director of the Center for Women's Global Leadership, and Professor, Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Previously, she was Professor of Economics and International Studies at Marymount Manhattan College. She has worked at the Ford Foundation as a program officer in the Asia Regional Program. She is currently the Chair of the Board of the US Human Rights Network and on the Board of the Center for Constitutional Rights. She is the author of Why MES with Human Rights: Integrating Macro Economic Strategies with Human Rights (Marymount Manhattan College, New York, 2005). She edited The Hidden Assembly Line: Gender Dynamics of Subcontracted Work in a Global Economy (Kumarian Press, 2001) and co-edited Good Sex: Feminist Perspectives from the Worlds Religions, with Patricia Jung and Mary Hunt (Rutgers University Press, 2000). She has also authored numerous articles that have appeared in books and journals.

Diane Elson holds a Chair in Sociology at the University of Essex, UK and is a member of the Essex Human Rights Centre. She has acted as advisor to UNIFEM, UNDP, Oxfam, and other development agencies and is a past vice president of the International Association for Feminist Economics. She has published widely on gender and development. Her academic degrees include a B.A. in philosophy, politics, and economics from the University of Oxford; and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Manchester.