When used closely together, budget analysis and human rights can produce compelling evidence of state’s non-compliance or compliance with socio-economic rights.
Armed with this evidence on hand, can be used in developing an effective advocacy strategy.
In this article, I’m going to highlight some of those strategies. The best approach will depend on the context. As you develop your strategy, the question that should be at the back of your mind is which strategy will have the maximum impact at the end of the day?
Below is a list of strategies and what they are all about:
- Working with the legislature: On a number of times, it is important to explain to the members of legislature the possible situations that would lead to human rights violations. Your work as a budget analyst can draw the attention of the policy makers to those specific issues. Always remember that parliaments are the natural counterweights to the executive arm of government. Once you have completed your analysis, send the findings to the relevant committees such as health and education at both the Senate and National Assembly as well as the county assemblies in Kenya. Convince these committees on why they should pile pressure on government.
- Litigation: Sometimes it is necessary to take the government to court to square issues out when they fail to follow through on their rights obligations. Court rulings or judgement can insert pressure on government to take action or abstain from specific actions. Budget analysis can be used as stronger evidence of wrong doing which may have lead to human rights violations.
- Community education: You can use public budget analysis to ensure that communities are familiar with their rights and can effectively claim them. A community that is struggling to secure adequate education for their children will be energized to demand for transparency and accountability following sessions of public education on budgeting.
- Documentation: It is important to get the facts right in order to effectively address any human rights violations. Never draw any conclusions prior to gathering accurate data. Budget figures can be a key component of that data which is needed for decision-making.
- Filing shadow reports with intergovernmental bodies: Sometimes domestic pressure to move a government to comply with its rights obligations has little or no impact at all. That is the time to go to international bodies that are charged with overseeing government’s compliance with its obligations. This will effectively create pressure from the regional and international community.
- Legal or policy reforms: Laws or policies may be inadequate to protect the rights of specific groups of people in a country such as minorities or indigenous peoples. The same applies to women, people with disability and children. There are also harmful laws and policies. These will need to be reformed in order to promote human rights.
You may already be aware that states which have ratified the ICESCR are required to submit reports on a regular basis to the committee on Economic, Social and Cultural rights. At these forums, Non Governmental Organizations are given a platform to submit counter-evidence if they have any. One way of doing that is through shadow reports.
The shadow reports have a role of pointing out the shortcomings in the government reports. The shadow reports can also provide information on issues not addressed.
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