UN rights experts urge Brazil to reconsider austerity measures

UN rights experts urge Brazil to reconsider austerity measures

UN human rights experts on Friday urged [press release] Brazil to reconsider its economic austerity measures. Specifically, the experts are focused on the negative impacts such measures might have on the countries most socially vulnerable, such as lower income, youth, women, and ethnic minorities.

“Women and children living in poverty are among those hit hardest, as are Brazilians of African descent, rural populations, and people living in informal settlements,” the experts said.

The experts noted that in recent years, Brazil has been a leading South American country in the fight against poverty and social inclusion. Brazil’s decision to take economic austerity measures [JURIST report] began in 2016. The measures, known as PEC 55, is expected to continue for another 18 years. United Nations human rights experts argue the measure represents a major step back for the country’s progress.

“Some of the financial and fiscal decisions made in the last years affect the enjoyment of several rights, including to housing, food, water, sanitation, education, social security and health, and are worsening pre-existing inequalities,” the experts noted.

UN experts argued that economic crisis is no justification for governments to take austerity measures. Instead, austerity measures should only be considered after ample assessments that take into account of the implications on more vulnerable and marginalized communities have been made. There must also be a comprehensive human rights impact assessment. “[T]he economy is society’s servant, not its master.” The UN experts have initiated dialogue with Brazilian leaders to discuss these concerns.