2015: the tipping point for inequality?
A message from CESR’s Executive Director, Ignacio Saiz
As 2015 comes to an end, the CESR team is in reflective mood. We’re proud of the advances we’ve made this year. We helped secure strong human rights commitments in the new global agenda for Sustainable Development. We created a global platform for action on tax justice and human rights through a ground-breaking gathering of activists in Lima, and convened the first ever hearing on human rights and fiscal policy before the Inter-American system. And we’ve worked closely with partners across the globe to use human rights as a pathway to challenge unjust economic policies, from austerity measures in Egypt and Spain to regressive tax policies in the Americas and the chronic under-resourcing of South Africa's classrooms.But we’re aware of the enormous challenges that need to be confronted if economic and social rights are to move from rhetoric on paper to a reality in people’s lives. For us, a fundamental challenge that has emerged center stage this year is that of economic inequality. From Oxfam to the OECD, reports from international development organizations have documented an alarming pattern of growing income inequality and elite wealth concentration around the world, with the richest 1% predicted to own 50% of total global wealth in 2016. While they have warned of the risks and consequences this poses for economic growth, democracy and the reduction of poverty, little attention has been paid to the full implications of this trend for human rights. Addressing the inherent injustice of inequality, and crafting a human rights response to the factors fuelling it, remains an urgent pending task for the human rights community.
This year may have marked the tipping point in recognizing economic inequality as a key public policy challenge of our time. But if we are to move from recognition to action, obscene wealth disparities must be understood and tackled as both a cause and consequence of human rights deprivations. In the coming year, we will join forces with our allies in the human rights, development and social justice movements to confront the forces of economic and social polarization with the countervailing power of economic and social rights. Please support us in our efforts to make 2016 the tipping point for change.