The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) began in 2010, as an initiative to advance the realization of economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights globally, tackling the endemic problems of poverty, social injustice and inequality through a human rights lens. In the short time since its inception, GI-ESCR has provided world-class technical support and achieved groundbreaking outcomes that are respected within and beyond the human rights community. As a result, it has become increasingly recognized as a leader in the area of ESC rights advocacy. For example, in 2014, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights invited a select few non-governmental organizations to meet with him to discuss priorities. The large traditional players (organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc.) were at the table, and it is an honor to be able to say that so was GI-ESCR. Even though we are undoubtedly smaller, and far newer as an organization, this recognition demonstrates that that GI-ESCR is valued for high quality advocacy work and the unique perspective provided to the Geneva human rights scene and beyond. We think it bodes well for the fact that we are a unique organization, playing an important role, and making a contribution which is not only significant, but urgently needed in today’s world.
Our work has also been recognized by networks of peer organizations at both the international and national levels. For instance, GI-ESCR has been appointed to serve on the Steering Committee of the ESCR-Net Strategic Litigation Working Group, is part of the core leadership of the ESCR-Net Women and ESC Rights Working Group, and is an active member of the ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group. We have been elected, and subsequently twice reelected, to serve on the Steering Committee of the ETO Consortium (extraterritorial obligations). In recent years, we have also been sought out by UN agencies and partners to contribute expertise on specific projects advancing rights.
With growth in credibility, reputation, and expectations, the Co-Directors and Board of Directors of GI-ESCR agreed that the time is right for a transition from organizational “start up” to organizational “step up.” The launch phase had distinguishing characteristics: organizational agility, nimbleness, high quality technical insights, an eye for the strategic, partnering with and drawing upon other networks and advocates with expertise, and an appreciated respect for local actors and agency. These qualities and core values must be nurtured and sustained as growth and greater impact are pursued in this next phase. Organizations and institutions in both the private and non-profit sector do not always get this transition right and find the right balance between too much/too little ambition, structure, staff, change, vision, growth, and resources. The GI-ESCR is at a cross roads, and has the desire and ability to get it right.
The 2016 – 2019 Strategic Plan, therefore, is less a rigid, defined plan with given metrics, and more a living document and guiding framework, vision, values and principles for making intelligent choices and actions. Often strategic plans are already outdated by the time they are approved and implemented. Effective organizations in today’s world must be strategic in real time, and continuously thinking, acting, and learning from their work and their rapidly changing and challenging contexts. Getting it right and stepping up mean building on:
- strengths and accomplishments;
- partnerships and actions based on credibility and respect;
- the on-going reading and understanding of global trends and the global context of human rights — and understanding issues that can be leveraged;
- the thoughtful and rigorous selection of strategic program priorities; and
- developing organizational capacity, and resources to pursue them.
Therefore, the Strategic Plan seeks to build upon GI-ESCR’s innate strengths and distinct placement in the field. Within a consultative process of strategic planning and organizational development, GI-ESCR seeks to clarify its organizational narrative, refine its organizational methodology, identify strategic pathways for future growth, and address some of the institutional challenges that have arisen as a consequence of growth and increasing expectation. The aims of the Strategic Plan and corresponding organizational development plan are to ensure that GI-ESCR is well placed within its field to make meaningful contributions; to ensure that organizational, administrative and support capacities are developed to implement the plan; and that organizational values, funding and sustainability are progressively aligned and enhanced over the 2016-2019 period and beyond. Another intention of the process is to build an organizational environment and culture that is agile, nimble, and has systems for continuous learning for effectiveness and impact.
The 2016 – 2019 Strategic Plan is available HERE.