Civil society calls for a renewed approach to public services to address global crises
Civil society organisations and movements launched a landmark manifesto calling for a renewed approach to public services, such as education, energy, food, health and care services, housing, social security, telecommunications, transportation, waste collection and disposal, and water and sanitation, to address the ecological, inequalities and other crises the world is currently facing.
The manifesto "The Future is Public: Global Manifesto for Public Services" was developed collectively over the past 10 months by dozens of civil society organisations and individuals through a series of meetings, regional workshops and online consultations. The COVID-19 pandemic has cast into stark relief the consequences of decades of privatisation and commercialisation of services essential for human dignity. The ongoing impacts of the pandemic intersect with the two other major challenges the world is facing: high and rising inequalities and the climate and ecological crisis, which threatens to push 120 million more people into poverty by 2030.
Signed by 175 organisations, the manifesto responds to this context, serving as a rallying cry for public services, offering a concrete alternative to the dominant neoliberal narrative that has failed to deliver on human rights and ensure a dignified life for all. The manifesto positions public services as the foundation of a fair and just society and of the social pact that implements the core values of solidarity, equality and human dignity. It advances a series of ten principles for universal quality public services in the 21st century, and outlines how funding universal quality public services is possible.
The manifesto was launched ahead of “Enough is enough: The Future is Public”, an event bringing together eight human rights officials on 26 October to discuss the crucial role of public services in building a more sustainable, inclusive, socially-just and resilient economy and society.
Attended by over 500 people, the event was moderated by Glenda Grace (Senior Vice Chancellor for International Affairs, Strategic Advancement and Special Counsel, City University of New York) and included the following speakers:
- Philip Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law and co-chair of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University Law School, and former UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
- Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation
- Koumbou Boly Barry, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education
- Solomon Ayele Dersso, Chairperson, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Founding Director of Amani Africa Media and Research Services, and Adjunct Professor at Addis Ababa University College of Law and Governance Studies
- Leilani Farha, Global Director of The Shift, and former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context
- Léo Heller, former UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation
- Aoife Nolan, Vice-President of the Council of Europe’s European Committee of Social Rights, and Professor of International Human Rights Law and Co-Director of the Human Rights Law Centre, University of Nottingham
- Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and former UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
Soledad García Muñoz, Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, provided a short intervention by video.