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UN Expert: “Greek Austerity Could Violate Human Rights”

 The appeal of a Greek citizen to International Criminal Court of the Hague raised some eyebrows and triggered some ironic comments. Can the Greek political leadership be accused of ‘genocide and crimes against humanity’ due to the harsh austerity? It is certainly an issue of definition. However, here comes United Nations expert on foreign debt and human rights and warns that the austerity measures aiming to solve the Greek debt crisis may result in violations of basic human rights of the people. What are basic human rights? “The rights to food, water, adequate housing and work under fair and equitable conditions” say the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Human Rights that are hard to maintain, when one considers that one in two Greeks below 25 years old are without job, that the number of unemployed Greeks is one million, that minimum wages have been dropped down to 489 euro net per month, and even those living below the poverty line have to pay taxes. At the same time living standard costs, utility prices, basic needs goods and services remain high.

Greek austerity measures could violate human rights, UN expert says. (From UN News Centre)

30 June 2011 –

The United Nations independent expert on foreign debt and human rights warned today that the austerity measures and structural reforms proposed to solve Greece’s debt crisis may result in violations of the basic human rights of the country’s people, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported.“The implementation of the second package of austerity measures and structural reforms, which includes a wholesale privatization of state-owned enterprises and assets, is likely to have a serious impact on basic social services and therefore the enjoyment of human rights by the Greek people, particularly the most vulnerable sectors of the population such as the poor, elderly, unemployed and persons with disabilities,” said CephasLumina, who reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“The rights to food, water, adequate housing and work under fair and equitable conditions should not be compromised by the implementation of austerity measures,” he said, urging the Government to “strike a careful balance between austerity and the realization of human rights, taking into account the primacy of States’ human rights obligations.”

Mr. Lumina also called upon the authorities to maintain some fiscal leeway to meet its people’s basic human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights.

“Tax rises, public expenditure cuts and privatization measures have to be implemented in such a way that they do not result in unbearable suffering of the people,” he said.

“Debts can only be paid out of income,” Mr. Lumina said. “A shrinking economy cannot generate any revenue and contributes to a reduced capacity to repay the debt. More time should have been allowed for the restructuring measures already in place to work.”

The independent expert also called on the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union (EU) and the European Central Bank (ECB) to remain aware of the human rights impact of the policies they design in attempting to resolve the sovereign debt crises in Greece and other countries.

“There will be no lasting solution to the sovereign debt problem if the human rights of the people are not taken into account,” said Mr. Lumina, who serves in an unpaid capacity.

Thanks to KTG-Reader Kostas for the link.

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6 comments

  1. Well! At last!!! someone is talking some sense!!!

  2. If Greek austerity violates human rights, then what about the billions of people on this globe who earn much less than the Greeks? He, you don’t have to look to Africa or something to put things into perspective, just look at the incomes of the Bulgarians! Hell, even the Solvenians, with much lower incomes than the Greeks, shall contribute to the bailout. So, come on, stop these shameless exaggerations! You’re in a bad situation, sure, but there’s still lots of folks who are much worse off. The complaints that the bailout isn’t big enough are really embarassing.

  3. I think you should consider along with your reference to billions of people earning less – their relative costs of living which are extremely relevant to your argument …… The cost of living in Greece is no where near the cost of living in Africa, Bulgaria or Slovakia as for ‘bail outs’ – get it right these are ‘loans’ at higher interest than those which your country enjoys and – have to be repaid to your country’s benefit

  4. that is expressed, does not mean we should become As we are GREEKS like Africa (there other interests, other interests here in GREECE) never forget you, the evil created by your country in the planet earth .. I did not bother anyone ever .. Well picked up your words to please ..

  5. Mr.Gray,You have a point cocerning these other countries but the truth to the matter is that they are being exploited.Why should other countries be exploited as well?The true union of Europe was that of UNITY not EXPLOITATION.They turned a blind eye to all this instead of taking the matter into immediate action,or was this THE PLAN? So get real.

    • That the bad effect of globalisation, man’s exploitation of man has become worse. Actually, working class people everywhere are being exploited, the difference is in the degree to which their nations allow that. We Germans didn’t invent that at all, and we have to deal with these harsh conditions in the best way we can, too. And indeed, only more unity, a strong movement in the industrialized nations, will overcome the terror of the big capital interests.

      But what does this have to do with Greece? Despite globalisation, your governments could at least have created a reasonable balance between the interests of the people and the demands of globalisation. Change has to start in our own countries, we can’t wait for others to create a better world for us. We should focus on step-by-step improvements now. Resignation is not a solution!