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.
The 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