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Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights

Introduction

Ms. Yuefen LI is the current Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights. The Independent Expert carries out analytical research and undertaks country missions, in an effort to work with Governments, the United Nations, non-governmental actors and other stakeholders on issues falling under her mandate.

The mandate of the Independent Expert includes the following areas of work:

  • The effects of foreign debt on human rights and international financial obligations on the capacity of States to design and implement their policies and programmes, including national budgets, as vital requirements for the protection and promotion of economic, social and cultural rights;
  • Measures taken by Governments, international financial institutions, the private sector and others to alleviate such effects in developing countries, especially the poorest and heavily indebted countries;
  • The evaluation of the impact of structural adjustments, economic reforms policies and financial consolidation policies on the protection and promotion of human rights; and the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • The impact of illicit financial flows, including tax evasion, on the enjoyment of human rights;
  • Studying the impacts of sovereign debt on individual and household debt;
  • Provide advice to States and the international community, including through the development of tools, such as the Guiding principles on human rights impact assessment of economic reforms.

UN Photo/Eskinder DebebeThe Independent Expert carries out country missions to study the effects of foreign debt on the realization of human rights and to engage in dialogues with the Government, international financial institutions, UN agencies and civil society as a part of her global analysis of the subject as well as to develop practical recommendations and suggestions to the countries concerned. The Independent Expert also engages in consultations with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as other international organizations active in the areas of development aid.

The Independent Expert is part of the system of Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council. With the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Special Procedures undertake country visits; act on individual cases of alleged violations and concerns of a broader, structural nature by sending communications to States; conduct thematic studies and convene expert consultations, contributing to the development of international human rights standards ; engage in advocacy and raise public awareness ; and provide advice for technical cooperation.

Guiding principles on foreign debt and human rights

In April 2004, the Commission on Human Rights (the predecessor to the Human Rights Council) requested the Independent Expert to draft general guidelines to be followed by States and by private and public, national and international financial institutions in the decision-making and execution of debt repayments and structural reform programmes, including those arising from foreign debt relief. The purpose of the guidelines is to ensure that compliance with the commitments derived from foreign debt will not undermine the obligations for the realization of fundamental economic, social and cultural rights, as provided for in the international human rights instruments After a broad consultative process the Independent Expert submitted the Guiding principles on foreign debt and human rights (A/HRC/20/23) to the Human Rights Council in June 2012. The Council endorsed the Guiding principles in its resolution 20/10.


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Guiding Principles for human rights impact assessments for economic reforms

The Guiding Principles on human Rights impact assessment of economic reforms were presented to the Human Rights Council on 28 February 2019, on the occasion of its 40th session ”.

Highlights

Wrap up and goodbye from the mandate | Sumario y despedida del mandato

Debt Spiral: Private debt as a cause and consequence of human rights violations (3 march 14:00-15:30, Room XXV PdN) - Cancelled

The explosion of private debt: Curse or blessing for human rights? (3 March 18:30-20:00, R-070, Uni-Mail) - Cancelled

Launch of booklet on the Guiding Principles 5 March (17:00) Palais des Nations, XXV - Cancelled

Evento: International Financial Instituticiones y Derechos Humanos (19/11/2019)

Press Conference : Visit in Bolivia, 15 May 2019
Press Conference : Visit in Bolivia, 15 May 2019

Call for contributions-visit to Mongolia 2-11 September 2019

Call for contributions: Thematic report on private debt and human rights

UN experts send a letter to the UNCITRAL Working Group III on Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Reform, urging systemic changes to the ISDS system - EFS

Side event on Guiding Principles on human rights impact assessments of economic reform policies, Friday 1 March 2019 - Flyer

Latest reports

Report to the General Assembly (main focus: responsibility for complicity of IFIs in human rights violations in the context of retrogressive economic reforms) A/74/178)

Report to the Human Rights Council (main focus: guiding principles for assessing the human rights impact of economic reform policies) A/HRC/40/57)

Mission to Ukraine 14 to 23 May 2018 A/HRC/40/57/Add.1)

Mission to Sri Lanka 3-11 September 2018 A/HRC/40/57/Add.2)

Comments by the State to the report of the Independent Expert on his visit to Ukraine A/HRC/40/57/Add.3)

Comments by the State to the report of the Independent Expert on his visit to Sri Lanka A/HRC/40/57/Add.4)

Guiding principles on foreign debt and human rights

The Guiding principles are designed to assist States and all relevant actors in the conduct of their respective activities and pursuit of their respective interests relating to external debt

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