Academic journal article Texas International Law Journal

Financial Complicity: Lending to States Engaged in Gross Human Rights Violations

Academic journal article Texas International Law Journal

Financial Complicity: Lending to States Engaged in Gross Human Rights Violations

Article excerpt

Human Rights Council

Twenty-eighth session

Agenda item 3

Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Report of the 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, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky*

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION 765

II. WHY DOES FINANCIAL COMPLICITY MATTER AND WHAT HAS THE UNITED NATIONS DONE IN THAT FIELD? 766

III. HOW ADDITIONAL FUNDS CONSOLIDATE AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES IN MOST SITUATIONS 770

IV. DO FUNDS CONSOLIDATE REGIMES ENGAGED IN GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS? 775

V. NEXT STEPS 779

I. INTRODUCTION

1. In his report to the General Assembly (A/69/273), the 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, identified the question of lending to States that are responsible for gross human rights violations as one of his six thematic priorities. The holders of the mandate have repeatedly advocated that lending by international financial institutions, private actors and States should respect international human rights standards, in particular in the context of development cooperation and export credit insurance (see A/66/271 and A/ 68/542) calling for human rights safeguards in project financing or promoting a human rights-based approach to development cooperation (see A/HRC/25/50/Add.2 and A/ HRC/17/37/Add.l ). The main focus of the mandate has been to study the human rights impacts of foreign debt, debt relief, structural adjustment policies and austerity measures adopted in response to the debt crisis (see A/HRC/23/37 and Add. 1, A/ HRC/25/50/Add.l and Add. 3 and A/HRC/20/23/Add.l and Add.2).

2. Previous mandate holders have not, however, addressed in detail the issue of what States, international financial institutions and private financial actors should do when they are confronted with the question of whether they should provide financial support to Governments or State institutions that are allegedly responsible for gross violations of human rights. In cases where States or other actors provide financial support in such contexts, how should they ensure that such support does not facilitate the commission of further gross human rights violations? The Human Rights Council has explicitly requested the Independent Expert to consider the effects of foreign debt and related financial obligations on the enjoyment of "all human rights", it is therefore more than appropriate to fill that gap, considering that the issue of financial complicity has, apart from some exceptions (see, for example, E/CN.4/Sub.2/412, Vols. I-IV and Corr. I),1 not been studied in a systematic manner by independent experts appointed by the United Nations.

3. The focus of the present report is on authoritarian regimes involved in gross human rights violations, but the Independent Expert also argues that there is a link to the protection of economic, social and cultural rights. Withdrawing financial support to States may negatively impact the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights for the affected populations, a problem that has been recognized, for example, in the context of comprehensive economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council. In addition, autocratic regimes have frequently perpetrated gross violations of human rights to suppress public dissent, violating core social, economic and cultural rights. Human rights defenders working on social rights, trade union representatives and land rights defenders are often the first to be targeted.

4. There have been difficulties in understanding the causal link between sovereign financing and gross human rights violations by States. …

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