Economic and Social Justice Programme

Over the years, there has been a trend in all regions of the world to reduce the role of the state and to rely on the market to resolve problems of human welfare, often in response to conditions generated by international and national financial markets and institutions and in an effort to attract investments from the multinational enterprises whose wealth and power exceed that of many states. It is no longer taken for granted that the realization of economic, social and cultural rights depends significantly on action by the state, although, as a matter of international law, the state remains ultimately responsible for guaranteeing the realization of these rights. While the challenge of addressing violations of economic, social and cultural rights is rendered more complicated by these trends, it is more urgent than ever to take these rights seriously and, therefore, deal with the accountability of governments for failure to meet their obligations in this area.

It is based on this context KHRC’s work on Economic and Social Justice (ESJ) as outlined in its strategic plan (2014-2018) is predicated on addressing the rampant issue of poverty. This is anchored on the following strategic objectives:

  1. Producers’, workers’, consumers’ and host communities’ rights protected.
  2. Improved accountability in service delivery leads to improved access to ESCR (Economic Social Cultural Rights)  in select counties.

To achieve this, the ESJ thematic area is structured into 4 programmes

  1. Corporate Accountability
  2. Labour Rights
  3. Trade Justice
  4. Devolution and accountability

ESJ will within this operational period focus on achieving the following outputs:

  • Unfair Trade Practices and corporate impunity revealed as gross injustices
  1. Labour Rights
  1. Production of an annual state of labour report – Develop an annual state of labour report that will be used to lobby the government for change in the sector
  2. Labour inspection and enforcement of labour laws – Most labour violations have gone unaddressed over the years because of the challenges in labour inspection. The Ministry of Labour has only 93 labour inspectors who are expected to adequately handle this function nationally. This coupled with low budgetary allocation to this ministry has to a great extent made effective inspection impossible. KHRC will work with the Ministry of Labour to audit workplaces and document violations in select precarious economic belts, namely, cut flower, tea, coffee, sugar and the Export Processing Zone (EPZ).
  3. Adoption of a Living wage – KHRC will build on the work that it has already done on the living wage in the past which included consultations between key actors in the labour sectors. What needs to be addressed is the adoption of a living wage by employers. KHRC will work with like-minded institutions like Hivos to lobby Fairtrade to include living wage as a pre-requisite for fairtrade certification. This will ensure that all faritrade certified companies and living wage compliant.
  4. Democratisation of labour unions – Labour unions have been dogged by undemocratic practices over the years. The clout and financial strength that most of these unions command, coupled with weak regulation and lack of accountable governance structures have worsened the situations. These have made most unions unaccountable to workers who finance their operations. KHRC will work with international trade unions such as the IUF to develop model constitutions whose adoption will act as both a pre-requisite for registration as well as framework for governance.
  5. Trade Justice
    1. A more inclusive WTO, and 4) more Africa-sensitive trade deals
    2. Monitoring the implications of the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreements
  6. Corporate Accountability
  7. The creation of a progressive and binding treaty on corporate accountability Coordination consultations on a binding treaty on business and human rights
  8.  Advancing the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other mechanisms
  • Enhanced civic demand for accountability in service delivery in select Devolution and Accountability

One of the key outputs of ESJ in the current OP is the publication and launch of the Ten –Point Model County Award Criteria and Scheme in April 2015, which has since been disseminated to various stakeholders strategic to KHRC’s work. To wad-off overlaps in implementation of the framework, we propose operationalization of the different components of the framework by respective teams across the KHRC based on their areas of focus. Additionally, the following parameters in the model need to be mainstreamed in all KHRC’s work. These are:

  1. Public participation and access to information
  2. Integrity, transparency and accountability

This will enable ESJ through its Devolution and Accountability programme to strategically focus on effective service delivery in key sectors, namely, health and education as opposed to engage in the arduous task of implementing the whole model as had earlier been envisaged. Lack of access to education and healthcare are major drivers of social and economic exclusion, inequality as well as key propagators of vulnerability and powerlessness. Thus, they are strategic areas to engage in going forward.

Author: Admin

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