The economic crisis, debt and the impact on human rights: Eastern Partnership countries
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The article explores the nexus between the economic crisis, foreign debt and the impact on human rights as it has manifested in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) region since the beginning of the 2008 ‘global economic crisis’. That an economic crisis requires states to borrow internationally is not novel. By researching and developing case studies for all but one of the EaP countries, and then engaging in a comparative analysis of the case studies, the article seeks to explore, in the EaP context, the extent and legitimacy of borrowing, the impact on human rights of the economic crisis and/or debt, and the degree to which national debt frameworks of EaP countries comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Foreign Debt and Human Rights. As for the nexus between human rights, economics and debt, this dynamic is founded in the fact that human rights values the equality of individuals and, in the socio-economic context, this may be expressed in terms of equal opportunity, which must be ensured and fomented by the state – often through the expenditure of public resources. As a developed society is best conceived of as a collective of developed individuals, and as equal opportunity is foundational to individual development, phenomena which curtail the equal opportunity of individuals necessarily impact negatively on the human rights regime. It is generally accepted that several factors influence an individual’s equal opportunity for development: civil and political rights; economic facilities (for instance employment opportunities, fair remuneration); social opportunities (for instance education); transparency/ accountability (for instance the rule of law); and protective securities (for instance healthcare and social welfare). It is in this broad context that the article considers increasing poverty and the degradation in socio-economic rights as having a negative impact on equal opportunity and on human rights, and explores this impact as a derivative of the economic crisis and foreign debt.