Human rights principles and standards should inform any recovery strategy deployed in the face of a recession. It is during times of austerity, when human rights and freedoms are threatened, that there is most need for them to be protected. In many developed countries hasty reform packages have allowed governments to legitimize a rolling back of the welfare state, thus undermining the basic human rights of citizens, however. The economic crisis in Spain is likely to become a human rights crisis if the state fails to effectively protect the most vulnerable.

Since the crisis hit in 2008, Spain’s unemployment level has increased dramatically. According to official data for the fourth quarter of 2011, one in five of Spain’s population aged 16-64 is unemployed - more than double the average EU rate. Spain also has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the EU and the economic crisis has exacerbated this problem. The impacts of the crisis have been most severely felt by disenfranchised young people and marginalized groups such as immigrants, women and the Roma community, in a climate of rising discrimination and xenophobia.

CESR affirms that any meaningful, equitable and sustainable solution to the crisis can only be accomplished by putting people at the center of such strategies. At this critical juncture, national human rights organizations are pressuring the government to adopt an effective human rights response to the crisis and uphold its international human rights obligations.

From Puerta del Sol in the center of Madrid to town squares all around the country, a larger, grassroots civil society movement has developed  - one that is demanding the protection of fundamental economic and social rights. CESR is working to ensure accountability for human rights violations caused by the crisis - and the government’s response to it - by making use of existing international human rights mechanisms and working with national-level civil society groups. In May 2012 Spain was assessed by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) for the first time in eight years. CESR coordinated a shadow report, as part of a coalition of 19 organizations, which was submitted to CESCR ahead of the session. (An English-language summary of the document can be found here). A new factsheet providing a statistical snapshot of the worrying trends in economic and social rights in the country was also distributed to members of the Committee. Prior to this, the Center also produced a joint submission with the Observatori DESC, for the Pre-Sessional Working Group in May 2011. 

External Links


La sentencia del Tribunal Constitucional sobre exclusión sanitaria ignora los tratados de derechos humanos firmados por España
Nota de prensa: CESR y sus contrapartes reiteran que la reforma sanitaria contraviene los estándares internacionales de derechos humanos y es regresiva respecto al derecho a la salud.
Spain: Constitutional Court ruling on exclusion of undocumented migrants from health services ignores human rights obligations
Press release: CESR and its partners reiterate that Spain's health reform contravenes international human rights norms and is regressive with regard to the right to health.
Insuficiente respuesta de España ante el Consejo de DDHH de NNUU en Ginebra
Nota de prensa: El Gobierno español acaba de dar respuesta a las recomendaciones que le fueron realizadas con motivo del Examen Periódico Universal ante el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU.
Spanish government gives inadequate response to UN Human Rights Council recommendations on migrants’ right to health

Press release: As Spain appears before the Human Rights Council, CESR and its partners affirm access to health care is still not guaranteed to migrants in the country.
Spain reverses course and partially restores undocumented migrants’ access to health services
by Gaby Oré Aguilar
April 2nd, 2015
Blog: Undocumented migrants in Spain will once again be provided primary health care, but the right to universal health remains a pending task.
Spain’s austerity criticized again in UN human rights review
Spain’s failure to protect economic and social rights in times of economic crisis has come under stern criticism from other states at the Universal Periodic Review.
Spain under scrutiny at United Nations
Press release: On January 21 the Spanish government will be held to account for its human rights record at the Universal Periodic Review
Spain: Austerity driving poverty, growing inequality and human rights deterioration
Factsheet: As Spain appears before the UN Universal Periodic Review, a new CESR factsheet illustrates how austerity is driving severe violations of a variety of economic and social rights.

Spain: Strengthening joint action to protect the right to health of undocumented migrants
Joint statement: Amnesty International, CESR, Medicos del Mundo and Red Acoge have issued a joint statement denouncing Spain’s non-compliance with its human rights obligations.
Cinco organizaciones exigen al Gobierno que cumpla con las advertencias de Naciones Unidas sobre el acceso a salud
Press release: Spain must address the warnings of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, who has called for universal access to health services to be guaranteed (in Spanish).
Excluding undocumented migrants from health services is a violation of European law
Press release: A new report from the European Committee on Social Rights finds Spain’s legislation denying health care services to undocumented migrants to be regressive.
UN urges governments to prioritize human rights over austerity
June 15th, 2012
News article: The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has issued an unusual open letter urging governments to prioritize human rights in times of economic crisis.
UN calls on Spanish government to 'revise' austerity measures which are harming human rights
Press release: The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has echoed civil society demands in questioning the cuts made to social spending in response to the crisis.
Naciones Unidas pide al Gobierno español 'revisar' las medidas de austeridad
Nota de prensa: El Comité de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales de la ONU se hace eco de las demandas de las organizaciones de la sociedad civil y cuestiona los recortes sociales.
A Bottom-Up Approach To Righting Financial Regulation
CESR has joined the Steering Committee of the Righting Financial Regulation project, a new coalition seeking to confront the human rights implications of the global economic crisis.
Taking Spain's austerity measures to task at the United Nations
UN submission: As Spain appeared before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for the first time in eight years, CESR has presented two new documents in Geneva.
Spain factsheet
A new CESR factsheet examines the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in Spain since the economic crisis took hold in 2007
Social rights; the other deficit
Op-ed Article: To whom is the Spanish state ultimately accountable, the markets or the citizenry? This article by CESR Program Director Gaby Oré was published in El País, Spain's most important newspaper, on 7 May 2012.
Spain answers to UN for rights impacts of crisis response
by Marga Lema Tomé
Blog: With austerity measures dramatically undermining ESC rights in Spain, the country is appearing before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for the first time in eight years.
Spanish civil society submits parallel report to CESCR
UN submission: CESR has coordinated a parallel report which has been submitted to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) ahead of its 48th session in May 2012.
Austerity and retrogression: Have governments got the right?
February 6th, 2012
Press release: As European leaders agree a fiscal compact that is likely to further prejudice economic and social rights, CESR joins an open letter to Spain's Prime Minister.
España: sociedad civil exige nuevo plan de derechos humanos
Un total de 75 organizaciones, entre ellas CESR, se han dirigido mediante una carta abierta al Presidente de Gobierno, Mariano Rajoy, para instarle a que apruebe un nuevo Plan de Derechos Humanos.
Elections in Spain: tough choices for tough times
November 18th, 2011
As voters head to the polls amidst the worst economic crisis in recent history, Ignacio Saiz warns that democracy without social rights risks becoming a 'dictatorship of the markets'.
Spain: Submission to UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
CESR's joint submission with Observatori DESC on economic, social and cultural rights in Spain, to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for its 46th Session (late 2011).