10 February 2020

The Abidjan Principles have received recognition in the latest report on private debt and human rights by the Independent Expert on the effect of foreign debt, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky.

In the report Bohoslavsky explores the link between private debt (which includes individual and household debt) and human rights, and explains that:

‘Debt is not per se a human rights problem, even less a violation. What raises concerns is when indebtedness is either caused by or causes human rights violations, affecting in particular those in a situation of marginalization or vulnerability.’

He goes on to state that overindebtedness is the direct result of two phenomena: state failure to comply with its human rights obligations regarding economic and social rights and the increasing ‘financialisation’ and commodification of social services. 

Both phenomena are clearly present in the educator sector: Education has been increasingly privatised and commodified as governments look to the private sector to provide education services. He includes the Abidjan Principles as a source of international law providing guidance on access to public education:

according to [the Abidjan Principles] States must take steps to ensure that no individual is excluded from any public educational institution on the basis of the inability to pay, and must take all effective measures to prevent the risk of overindebtedness for learners and their families.’

The mention adds to the growing list of legal and political documents that refer to the Abidjan Principles, demonstrating their normative and practical importance in ensuring the right to education. The Abidjan Principles, which were adopted a year ago, have also been mentioned in the following:

  • African Commission’ Resolution on States’ Obligation to Regulate Private Actors Involved in the Provision of Health and Education Services recognises the Abidjan Principles by referring to the overarching principle 5. (June 2019)

  • Human Rights Council resolution on the right to education (July 2019)

  • UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education report(July 2019)

  • Global Partnership for Education Private sector engagement strategy  (June 2019)

  • Uganda High Court decision  (July 2019)

  • Publication in the International Human Rights Law Review (June 2019)

  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Bachelet, at the UN Social Forum (October 2019)

  • Selected by the Paris Peace Forum as one of the most promising governance projects (November 2019) 

  • SpecialRapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (January 2020)

  • Report of the Independent Expert on the effect of foreign debt and other related international financial obligation of States on the full enjoyment of human rights, particularly ESCR (January 2020)