Prevent Violence and Promote Development


Protecting Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Challenge

Violations of economic, social and cultural rights (ESC Rights), in addition to inflicting substantial damage on individuals and communities, very often lead to violence, including assassinations, torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

ESC Rights go to the very heart of a meaningful human existence and are very often at the core of peoples’ demands for respect for their rights. ESC Rights include, but are not limited to, the right to an adequate standard of living for the individual and the family (e.g. food, clothing, housing, medical care), the rights to education, to work (including just and favourable conditions of work), to respect for property and to participate in the cultural life of the community. These rights are proclaimed and protected by international human rights law and are recognised on the national level in many countries.

Public policies and private activities can often lead to violations of ESC Rights through, for example, the forced eviction of people from their lands, failures to respect basic workers’ rights, the economic and social marginalisation of large sectors of the population, and the stigmatisation of the poor as criminals. These policies and activities are frequently implemented and maintained through violence, and peaceful protests by those directly concerned are often met with violence and human rights activists persecuted. The victims include inhabitants of informal urban settlements, indigenous communities, minorities and farmers, and children and women are particularly affected. This violence has been shown to seriously compromise development. This website contains more detailed information on how ESC Rights, violence and development are linked.

What can be done?

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and other actors can use human rights principles and machinery to prevent violations of ESC Rights and thus help end violence and enhance the prospects for development. Acting effectively against these root causes of violence will reinforce other actions for respect of civil and political rights and thus increase the real impact of human rights investments. More information on how effective action can be taken.

The UN and World Bank call for action

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Secretary-General, the UN Rapporteur on Torture and the World Bank President have all called for action against the economic, social and cultural root causes of violence. Click here for their statements

The Resource Team can help

The ESC Rights Resource Team of experienced human rights professionals can provide assistance to those wishing to address the root causes of violence. They are available to carry out in-depth situation analyses, develop proposals for action, build capacity, bring cases to national and international monitoring mechanisms and engage in advocacy. For more information, click here.



The Resource Team wishes to thank HURIDOCS www.huridocs.org for their assistance with this website.