Modules on Monitoring Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR)


ECONOMIC, social and cultural rights (ESCR) form the very foundations of human dignity.  These are entitlements which guarantee that socio-economic opportunities are made available, accessible and affordable by the State in order for its citizens to live a life that befits a human being.  Enjoying the rights to food, work, education, health and housing are necessary for people to live decently and for them to develop.  However, when men and women cannot find jobs which provide just wages; when people cannot afford to buy food or are unable to access food for themselves and their families; when parents cannot send their children to school; when individuals are not able to access basic health/medical services, this means that not only is their existence inhuman, but also that their economic, social and cultural rights are violated.  These conditions indicate failure on the part of the State to fulfill its human rights obligations to its citizens and entail the urgency for citizens to claim their rights to realize their dignity.

Knowing one’s human rights is a necessary condition for people to claim and assert them.  Having a firm grasp and understanding of basic human rights concepts, principles and approaches provide people with a tool that will guide them towards appropriate action.  Knowledge or information is a source of power which, when properly handled and used by peoples and communities, can lead to desired changes and improvements in their environments.

In a country like the Philippines where human rights violations persist due to the State’s failure to protect, respect and promote human rights, sustained human rights education and information dissemination are highly critical in raising peoples’ capabilities to assert and defend their rights.   Equipping them with knowledge and skills will enable them to engage the government to comply with the numerous international human rights treaties it has ratified by formulating and implementing pro-people laws, policies and programs; allocating the necessary resources; establishing appropriate mechanisms and structures; ensuring the active and meaningful participation of the people; and intervening to prevent and/or stop the violation of the peoples’ rights and freedoms.

In the case of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR), a familiarity with the definition, scope, legal bases, nature of State obligations, standards and indicators, and monitoring and documentation of  human rights violations, will help people’s organizations and communities conduct their advocacy and organizing activities in a more effective manner.  Existing ESCR-related laws, ordinances, policies, structures and mechanisms can be maximized and utilized in the promotion of these rights.  Moreover, the peoples’ struggles for a dignified human existence can be further advanced when they are better armed with solid data in the conduct of dialogues and negotiations with government officials and agents.

This publication, Training on Your Rights: Modules on Monitoring Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, is a contribution of the Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) to the advancement of the people’s struggle for human rights by raising their capabilities in the conduct of human rights work in their  communities.  We hope that the target audience of the material, i.e. leaders and members of NGOs, people’s organizations, local communities, etc., will find the different modules relevant to their needs and useful not only in the realization of their economic, social and cultural rights, but of their full human potentials.


FROM the start, Terre des Hommes-France has supported PhilRights on economic, social and cultural     rights.  The grassroots approach was so relevant and it was so obvious that the methodology could be used in any given country, that we were immediately enthused by the project.  Along with some members of the team, we visited the French Embassy, the European Representation in the Philippines, only to discover that ESC rights were not necessarily on their agendas.  But we decided we would fund the project.

Each time we had the opportunity, we promoted PhilRights’ work: at social forums, at summer universities or with our partners around the world.  Everywhere, PhilRights’ work was acclaimed.  The standards and indicators were just the yardstick necessary to measure the progress of ESC rights among those who needed it most:  the disadvantaged, the women, the children, all members of society who suffer first and most seriously from the onslaught of the liberal economy and globalisation.

Educating the basic sectors and any one who had a hand in monitoring the ESC rights was the logical consequence of the research work.  With these modules, a set of performing tools has been evolved.  I am sure they will prove as adequate and absolutely necessary as the set of indicators.

We thank PhilRights for their commitment to and  for their excellent work on human rights.  We thank them for disseminating  and sharing  their work so generously.  We do hope this partnership will be fruitful for years to come.

Lysiane André
Terre des Hommes-France

Description of Contents

PHILRIGHT’S work on economic, social, and cultural rights (ESC) started with its research on grassroots and Philippine-based indicators for monitoring the fulfillment or violations of these rights.

This study had a share in introducing and mainstreaming these rights in the consciousness  and agenda of the human rights community, other non-governmental and peoples’ organizations, and government institutions, including the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

But PhilRights’ program on ESC rights does not end with the identification of indicators, its main target is to assist people’s organizations, development workers, and friendly local officials and personnel to set up and operationalize a community-based monitoring system for these rights using these indicators.

Thus, we came up with these modules which we believe will be useful in building up the capabilities of key community actors not only in keeping track of the government’s performance vis-à-vis its human rights obligations but also in asserting these entitlements through various means and venues.

The modules, divided into two sets, feature four major parts:

The first is a comprehensive discussion on human rights with a special focus on ESC rights, while the succeeding theme deals with the roles of indicators and monitoring activities in human rights advocacy.

The third major portion of the modules aims to equip the participants with conceptual and practical knowledge on data collection and documentation, and the last part are exercises to guide the participants on how to use the PhilRights ESC Monitoring Tools and to further improve these instruments.

Naturally, we also included in this publication a copy of the ESC monitoring tools that could be freely used by advocates in the field for their documentation efforts.

As mentioned in the modules, the information gathered through monitoring are clear and undeniable evidences of accomplishments and – more often than not – neglect and violations of ESC entitlements.

These data can be used as reference and basis for other actions such as filing legal cases, sending complaints to proper bodies, dialogues and negotiations, lobbying, and popular campaigns to strengthen the recognition and enforcement of these rights.

Lastly, we hope that through these modules and tools, PhilRights has contributed a potent weapon to the arsenal of human rights advocacy instruments.


Part 1: Basic Human Rights and ESC Rights Orientation

Module 1: Basic Human Rights Education: Concepts and Principles
Module 2: Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Part 2: Monitoring and Documenting ESC Rights

Module 1: ESC Rights Activism
Module 2: Monitoring Government Compliance with its ESC Rights Obligations
Module 3: Data Gathering and Documentation Techniques
Module 4: The ESC Monitoring Tools

Part 3: PhilRights Monitoring Tools