What does global social justice mean for us today? Is it a possible goal of development policies? The actual goal of left-wing politics? Does the concept of Global Social Rights provide a starting point for transforming North-South relations? Can Global Social Rights discourse help to politicize the United Nations’ sustainability goals (“Agenda 2030”) and place them on a legally-binding foundation? Or, perhaps, counter the worldwide rightward drift with an emancipatory and internationalist social perspective? Can contemporary transnational struggles around the right to freedom of movement and humane working conditions, housing, education and health care, climate justice, energy democracy and food sovereignty converge into a common political strategy?
We take up these questions in the series of events and publications titled “In the Right(s): International Movements for Global Justice”. Between June and December 2018, scholars, trade unionists and activists will hold three discussion panels on sustainability, work and migration from a left-wing perspective with civil society actors interested in developmental policy, inquiring if and how the concept of Global Social Rights could politicize the debate around the UN’s Agenda 2030 sustainability goals. At the same time, we will also publish thematic essays and working papers in the publication series of the same name.
The essay and working papers will be published online at least two weeks before the corresponding event and can be downloaded at eineweltstadt.berlin.
In 2015, the member states of the UN passed the so-called “Agenda 2030” for sustainable development. The agenda established 17 so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), including, among others, ending poverty, reducing inequality, food security, education and health care for all, sustainable modes of production and humane working conditions. In contrast to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agreed upon in 2000, the SDG are no longer directed towards the countries of the Global South as the addressees of sustainable development and development policies. Rather, the SDG challenge the states of the Global North to eliminate their deficits in various areas of sustainable development. In doing so, the SDG also offer potential for critiques of growth and a starting point for internationalist politics and debates concerning questions of global distribution and social justice. The concept of “Global Social Rights” (GSR) in particular is currently receiving renewed attention among the broader left against the backdrop of the global trend towards authoritarian and nationalist responses to transnational social questions like climate change, exploitation along transnational valorisation chains, flight and migration, etc. Nevertheless, most of the debates and measures initiated by organized civil society, such as those with the German government, largely revolve around technical questions of standardization, measurability, and evaluation of individual SDG in different countries.
The publication and event series is a collaboration between the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (Centre for International Dialogue and the Academy for Political Education) and the Berliner Entwicklungspolitischer Ratschlag (BER). The project seeks to explore the question as to what extent the project of Global Social Rights is useful to politicize and radicalize the debate around SDG from a left-wing perspective and in the spirit of a new internationalism aiming for global social justice and a structural transformation of North-South relations. To begin with, the project will take up three social spheres and policy fields (Global Social Rights and Agenda 2030, labour struggles in transnational production chains, global freedom of movement and solidary city). This would mean placing a stronger focus on transnational sociality, global social struggles for rights and socio-ecological transformation of the mode of production, and less on development policies in the classical sense. Further goals include concretizing the concept of GSR for political education and project work, initiating a broad debate on GSRs within the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung as well as within organized civil society, i.e. NGOs, foundations and trade unions, and left-wing parties and organizations.
The public events, held in the evenings, will begin on 6 June 2018 (“Nachhaltig politisieren: Global Soziale Rechte als Alternative zur Agenda 2030”). Further dates in 2018 are 5 September (“Ahoi Arbeitskämpfe. Internationale Arbeitsrechte auf hoher See”) and 5 December (“Ich geh’ mit Dir wohin Du willst. Globale Bewegungsfreiheit und solidarische Stadt“). All of the events will be accompanied by thematic papers. The Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and Berliner Entwicklungspolitischer Ratschlag also cooperate with external partners from academia, NGOs, trade unions and policy consulting.