Social, solidarity and environmental economy: All human rights and obligations

Cooperatives, mutuals, associations, trade unions and foundations are based on the values and the universal principles of human rights. They constitute what became to be known today as the Social and solidarity economy. Relevant to civil society, these non-governmental organisations are multipurpose and multidimensional in the sense that they are created voluntarily by people, to satisfy their needs and economic, social, cultural and environmental aspirations. In other words, to render these rights effective.

In fact, trade unions have battled, through history, for the realization of various workers rights. Trade unions actions were not limited to claiming workers’ rights, but they have established them and made them effective. In fact, trade unions have initiated and developed cooperatives, mutuals and social services for the benefit of their members in the various fields affecting their lives and environment.

For a few decades, these organizations have become aware of their importance and their role, and transformed themselves into an international movement: social and solidarity economy. Some speak about a third sector, which could constitute an alternative to the market economy. However, it is recognized today that beside the public and capitalists enterprises, there is a category of organizations that are neither part of the public nor the capitalist category. It is known as the social and solidarity economy (SSE).

The development of the world financial and economic crisis since 2008, revealed the business foundations of the SSE in the industrialized countries. Consequently, the co-operative banks (savings and credit), and cooperative insurances resisted the shock of the crisis and did not lay off their staff like the companies based on the private capital.

The International Labor Organization, one of the agencies of the United Nations, extended the field of its action, which was limited only since its creation in 1940 to cooperatives, to the social and solidarity economy. Thus, it initiated in 2010, the Academy of the social and solidarity economy, which met three times since: in Turin, Italy in October 2010, in Montreal, Canada in 2011 and in Agadir, Morocco in April 2013.

Civil society organizations are not in rest and have initiated the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social and Solidarity Economy (RIPESS), which joined in 2009 by the Moroccan Social and Solidarity Economy Network (REMESS), and in October 2010, the African Social and Solidarity Economy Network (RAESS) was created.

The REMESS, which represents Africa at the Board of directors of the RIPESS took an active part in the 5th Congress of the RIPESS which was held in the Philippines in October 2013. It has also contributed actively, to the development of the recommendations on the role of SSE in the realization of the post- 2015 MillenniumDevelopment Goals (MDGs) in Mont Blanc Meetings which were presented in New York at the margin of the 22nd September 2014 UN General Assembly.

The World Human Rights Forum constitutes a good opportunity to look further into the debate on the social, solidarity and environmental economy, like (also) on human rights and obligations of business.

This thematic forum aims to initiate an international debate on the role of the social and solidarity economy in the process of the realization of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights as well as the right to peace, security and movement. The seminar will deal, in particular, with the following topics:

  • “Social and solidarity economy in front of the major challenges: employment, health, education, environment and security”;
  • “Social and solidarity economy and the right to a decent work”;
  • “Social and solidarity economy and right to health and equality”;
  • “Social and solidarity economy and the right to civic education”;
  • “Social and solidarity economy and the right to peace and the security”.

Participants will be invited to adopt, at the end of their deliberations, a forum’s declaration on the topic of: “Social, solidarity and environmental economy: all human rights and obligations”.

This forum is proposed by the Moroccan Social and Solidarity Economy Network (REMESS), The African Social and Solidarity Economy (RAESS) and the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social and Solidarity Economy (RIPESS)