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Red Internacional para los Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (ESCR-Net)

ESCR-Net - The International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

In 1997, CESR proposed creating a global network of economic and social rights activists, and in 2003 the International Network for Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) was launched. Since then, ESCR-Net has become an independent organization. It is now the leading network of organizations dedicated to advancing economic, social and cultural rights around the world.

For more than a decade, economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) have been an important and growing frontier at the intersection of human rights, development and social activism. In 1998, CESR in collaboration with the Centre for Equality Rights and Accommodation and the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions hosted a set of meetings in Woodstock, New York and Algonquin, Canada. Activists present at the meeting felt that ESCR held a great promise as an overarching framework capable of:

  • Integrating the work of various social justice advocates under a universal umbrella;
  • Mobilizing communities in defense of their own rights as part of a constituency-based movement;
  • Involving social scientists in applied research to document violations and propose remedies;
  • Demanding legal, moral and political accountability from state and non-state decision-makers; and
  • Improving people’s living conditions in accordance with basic human rights principles.

In 2000, CESR received funding from the Ford Foundation to host two sets of meeting in New York City and in Cape Town, South Africa, to discuss the structure and goals of an ESCR network. The outcome of these meetings was to launch a network that would focus on outreach through substantive discussions in the form of working groups, and to develop better mechanisms for information sharing.

ESCR-Net was officially launched in Chiang Mai, Thailand in June 2003. Today, more and more groups and activists are turning to ESCR as a means of confronting the growing phenomenon of structural poverty and inequality.