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Budget Analysis

and the Advancement of Economic and Social Rights in Northern Ireland

Funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, the aim of this two-year project is to examine public expenditure in Northern Ireland by using economic and social rights-based budget analysis. With it, the researchers seek to develop a methodology that will strengthen the advocacy capacity of disadvantaged groups and their representatives in Northern Ireland. The project links with ongoing international efforts to develop and deepen the relationship between economic analysis and the assessment of human rights compliance. Examples of international efforts are found at the Human Rights Budget Work website.

The evaluation of budgetary allocations and of the actual expenditure of allocated resources is a key element of efforts to assess states’ compliance with their obligations under international law. This is particularly true in relation to the duty of states to progressively realise economic and social rights to the maximum of their available resources.
This project will harness existing knowledge and expertise in order to build capacity to ensure that a rights-based approach informs budgetary considerations in Northern Ireland. The project has four specific objectives, which are encapsulated within the overarching aim of producing policy-relevant research outputs and developing capacity for economic and social rights-based budget formulation and analysis. These objectives are:

  • to produce research outlining international experience and comparative practice in relation to economic and social rights budget analysis and budgeting, in order to identify international best practice in these areas;
  • to produce economic and social rights-based budget analysis outputs, including rights-based budget analyses of various instances of government resource allocation;
  • to educate civil society groups so as to enable them to monitor and measure the extent to which state bodies  take their economic and social rights obligations into account when formulating budgets;
  • to bring about a more extensive adoption of a rights-based approach to budget formulation by decision-makers, leading to a more reasoned and explicit commitment on the part of those actors to the realisation of economic and social rights through their budget and policy-making functions.

The project will produce: (1) a report mapping comparative and international efforts in relation to budget analysis and economic and social rights; (2) a major international conference on economic and social rights and budget decisions; (3) rights-based budget analyses of Assembly Budget Allocations and the Priorities and Budget for Northern Ireland 2008-9; and (4) papers analysing budgetary allocations from the perspective of particular economic and social rights.

International Advisory Board
Ann Blyberg (Executive Director, International Human Rights Internship Program)
Debbie Budlender (Research Specialist, Community Agency for Social Enquiry, South Africa)
Professor Diane Elson (University of Essex)
Martin Sigal (Director, Civil Association for Equality and Justice, Argentina)
Sally-Anne Way (Research Director, Centre for Economic and Social Rights)