You are here

Economic and social rights come first

Sep 15,2018 - Last updated at Sep 15,2018

In his speech at the University of Jordan's Centre of Strategic Studies last week, Prime Minister Omar Razzaz outlined many features of his policies, the main challenges that the country faces and how he intends to go about addressing them to the best of his abilities, if given a chance. One of the most intriguing issues that the prime minister addressed is his hypothesis that while economic challenges are in the forefront of his policies, there is no escape from tackling them in tandem with political reforms. The organic link between the two dimensions of reforms and progress has occupied the attention of the international community for decades. It is the same old story about the horse and carriage and how the two go together.

Back in the early days of the United Nations and the start of the process of codifying the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights into a legally-binding instrument, the world was split between highlighting economic and social rights at the expense of civil and political rights or vice versa. There was hope then to have one basic international human rights treaty instead of what the UN ended up with; two separate treaties, one called the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Western nations had prioritised, and the other named the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which the Soviet bloc in that era had sponsored.

Two separate human rights treaties were thus created to monitor their separate application. The two human rights bodies, one named the Human Rights Committee and the other called the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, each jealously defending their own different mandates and claiming that their sets of rights come first. The two bodies continued to work separately, with each saying that its own set of rights comes first.

I worked in both bodies at different times and witnessed how each group highlighted its own cluster of rights, while conceding the link between all human rights. It began to dawn on the two committees in due course that human rights are, indeed, inseparable and interrelated. In recent times, this division of labour began to erode slowly but surely after reaching a consensus that there is really no effective way to separating the two sets of human rights or to addressing them separately from one another.

The truth of the matter is that the two groups of  goals are, indeed, inseparable as there is no real way to addressing economic and social problems in isolation from political reforms and vice versa. That said, it is never enough to recognise the organic link between the two sets of human rights. What matters also is what mechanisms or policies are put in place to translate this finding into a workable reality.

My considered opinion is that even though the two sets of rights are complementary, economic and social rights come first because they provide the foundation on the basis of which genuine political reforms can be introduced and applied. There is no sensible or practical way for a person to vote and participate in the political reforms of his/her country when his/her stomach is empty and he/she has  no roof over his/her head.

My conclusion for what it is worth is that, while political reform economic political reform and go together and are like the horse and carriage in retrospect and in real life, economic and social rights, in some countries at least, come first and must be given priority. If my reading of the prime minister's speech is correct, that is what he hinted at.

up
64 users have voted.

Comments

SINCE MR WALID M. SADI HAS SERVED IN BOTH SEPERATE HUMAN RIGHTS TREATIES AT DIFFERENT TIMES, WHY DID YOU TURN A BLIND EYE ON THE DISCRIMINATORY AND INHUMAN TREATMENT OF THE FAMILIES OF JORDANIAN WOMEN MARRIED TO NON JORDANIAN MEN? DO YOU CONSIDER THIS POLICY A HUMAN RIGHT ISSUE AND IF SO, WHY DID YOU WORK IN THIS CAPACITY WHEN YOU ARE SITTING ON THE AXIS OF AN ARPATHIED POLICY, WOMEN BASHING AND DIFFERENT CITIZEN STANDARDS FOR MEN AND WOMEN. IT IS ALSO HYPOCRITICAL THAT ONE OF YOUR COUNTRY'S MOST FINEST MAN HEADED THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS DEPARTMENT FOR YEARS AND NEVER OPENLY SAID THAT THIS IS WRONG AND SHOULD STOP. ALL WE HEAR ABOUT IS HUMAN RIGHT ISSUES IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD WHILE OMMITING THE DARK AGES PRACTICES IN THE ARAB WORLD. NOW THAT YOU CLEARLY STATED YOUR PAST RECORD, IT CAN BE FAIR TO SAY THAT YOU SHOULD EXCUSE YOURSELF FROM ANY POLICY ISSUES REGARDING HUMAN RIGHTS BECAUSE CHARITY MUST BEGIN AT HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WHILE I DO UNDERSTAND WHERE MR WALID M. SADI IS COMMING FROM, HIS HYPOTHESIS REMIND ME OF THE EGG AND CHICKEN METAPHOR. THE FACT THAT IS THAT PUBLIC POLICY IS A FUNCTION OF WHO GETS WHAT, WHEN AND HOW. TO GET ANY SHARE OF THE NATIONAL CAKE, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A VOICE, REPRESENTATION AND POLITICAL BACK UP. IN THE ABSENT OF THIS, THE BIG GOES ON AS HAIL AWAITS THOSE THAT MUST FEED ON THE CROMS OF THE POWER BROKERS. IF IT IS THE ECONOMICS THAT COMES FIRST, WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE ALREADY EXCLUDED FROM THE SAID ECONOMIC MODELS BECAUSE THEY BELONG TO THE VOCELESS CITIZENS? THE COUNTRY MUST DIG INTO THESE EQUATIONS OF THE HAVES AND HAVE NOTS, THE POWERFUL AND THE CITIZENS OF THE USELESS CAST?

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
2 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Newsletter

Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.