Areas of priority
Business and Human Rights
The role of non-state actors, and the responsibilities of commercial actors (businesses) for human rights is a fast-growing field of human rights analysis that the group wants to continue to explore and publish on from legal and other social science perspectives. The issue of extra territorial obligation is part of this agenda; it also involves the issues and debates about voluntary versus mandatory (legal) strategies for human rights compliance by non-state actors. The impact on business, for instance in extractive industries or in the food sector is huge, and entails concerns for economic, social and cultural rights as well as a issues of civil and political rights, such as rights to organise, access to information and legal assistance and advice.
Shrinking Political Space
Another field of interest is the shrinking political space for human rights advocacy. Over the last few years a number of countries have introduced laws and policies to curtail the work of human rights defenders at different international, regional, national and local scales, whether in the slums of the Global South, or, international human rights experts, including human rights special rapporteurs at the United Nations. This trend and different articulations, interests and agendas between these levels of the human rights movement itself, may have significant impact on networks of human rights advocates to advance human rights compliance, and mirrors – at least hypothetically – trends of authoritarian and populist control.
Sustainability and Poverty
A related issue concerns a rapidly urbanising world: while many cities face considerable challenges to provide services and sustainable development, many now also have large economies and strong devolved powers which enable them to emerge as key actors. The ‘right to the city’ concept is both a slogan but also a rapidly emerging global approach to re-thinking cities that are more compatible with residents living a life in dignity.