Excerpt: Social Entrepreneurship and the Right to Work and to Self Determination


This is an excerpt of a paper written for a capstone course. For the complete analysis, please contact info@seedconsults.com with a detailed nature of your request and complete contact information.

Study: Present Day Human Rights Law Issues

International Human Rights Law Seminar

Adrienne B. Haynes

University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

December 2012

Social Entrepreneurship and the Right to Work and to Self Determination

“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.” Bill Drayton, CEO and founder of Ashoka[1]

Social entrepreneurship has become a successful method of promoting and enforcing the Right to Work and the Right to Self Determination. The Right to Work is expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[2] (“UDHR”) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights[3] (“ICESCR”) and the Right to Self Determination is included in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[4] (“ICCPR”) and the Declaration on the Right to Development[5] (“DRD”). The Right to Work includes a broad range of freedoms, including the “opportunity to gain [a] living by work [freely chosen][6] and the right “to free choice of employment, […] just and favorable conditions of work, and to protection against unemployment.”[7] The Right to Self Determination describes the ability of a citizen to “freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”[8] and to take “full [control] over […] their natural wealth and resources.”[9] The actualization of the Right to Self Determination results in the promotion of “concepts such as free will, civil and human rights, freedom of choice, independence, personal agency, self-direction, and individual responsibility.”[10]

In order for any right to be realized, there must be societal protections in place, lest the rights be articulated in vain.  While the rights articulated in the UDHR and the DRD are not legal obligations for United Nations member states since they are General Assembly Resolutions, both the ICESCR and the ICCPR contain binding language for the Right to Work and the Right to Self Determination.   Methods of incorporating the proper societal protections are included in the provisions. The Right to Work describes state obligations to for full realization, including “technical and vocational guidance and training programs, [the incorporation of] policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment.”[11] The DRD advises that states should ensure the “equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health services, food, housing, employment and the fair distribution of income.”[12] For a state’s citizens to maximize their Right to Work and to Self Determination, states have to make sure that programs and organizations are in place bring awareness of the contemplated rights and to promote their realization.

One of the major criticisms of the United Nations (“UN”) is the inability to enforce rights or obligations, especially those that are non-self executing. The ICESCR and the ICCPR have committees that require states to submit country reports, but the follow up is without true consequence. The committees may make recommendations based on the reports, but they can impose no additional enforcement or legal ramifications for human rights violations. On a domestic level, social entrepreneurs have stepped in as opportunity creators and right protectors.

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurship combines entrepreneurship and the fundamental principles of human rights to advance widespread and lasting societal change. On an international level, these changes seek to “transform[] systems and practices that are the root causes of poverty, marginalization, environmental deterioration”[13] and many ventures have successfully developed programs that encourage the realization of human rights, specifically the  Right to Work and the Right to Self Determination at the domestic level.

Least Developed Countries

This analysis will focus on social entrepreneurship ventures that have a presence in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). In a world with dramatic wealth distribution, the advancement of the Right to Work and the Right to Self Determination in these countries should be a top priority.  There are currently forty eight countries recognized by the UN with this classification- thirty three in Africa, fourteen in Asia and the Pacific, and one in the Latin America and Caribbean category.[14] The criteria used to determine a countries status as an LDC by the UN Committee for Development Policy is as follows: 

  • Low Income: based on a three year average of a country’s gross national income and compared against the World Bank’s determination of a low-income country ($992 in 2012). [15]
  • Weak Human Resources: based on undernourishment, mortality of young children, secondary school enrollment and adult literacy rates. [16]
  • High Economic Vulnerability: based on indicators such as population size, remoteness, concentration and instability of goods exported, agricultural production and resources, and victims of natural disasters. [17]
  • Population: must not exceed seventy five million. [18]
  • Consent to be included on the list. [19]

In 2009, the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) published Things to KNOW, Things to DO booklet that outlines eight priority areas, goals and suggested actions to be taken by both LDCs and Development Partners to advance the set goals.  The priority areas are as follows:

  • Productive Capacity (in regards to infrastructure, energy, science, technology, and innovation, and private sector development)
  • Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Security, and Rural Development
  • Trade
  • Commodities
  • Human and Social Development (in regards to education and training, population and primary health, youth development, shelter, water and sanitation, gender equality and empowerment of women, and social protection)
  • Multiple Crises and other Emerging Challenges (in regards to economic shocks, climate change and environmental sustainability, and disaster risk reduction)
  • Mobilizing Financial Resources for Development and Capacity Building (domestic resource mobilization, official development assistance, external debt, foreign direct investment, and remittances)
  • Good Governance at all Levels [20]

Highlighted Organization Criteria and Impact Analysis

To truly effectuate change in the LDCs, social entrepreneurs must take these priority areas into account in the development of their programs. This study takes a closer look into the history, mission, direct impact on human rights herein contemplated, and measures effectiveness verbatim against the suggested ‘Things to DO’ and ‘Actions by Development Partners’ as per the Things to KNOW, Things to DO [21] booklet. The following organizations were selected based on the following characteristics:

  • established for more than five years;
  • presence in ten or more LDCs (international impact);
  • a mission driven by social entrepreneurship;
  • program(s) that empower  their communities to realize their Right to Work and/or the Right to Self Determination; and
  • an organizational emphasis that works toward solutions of an LCD priority set by the UN-OHRLLS.

For the complete analysis, please contact info@seedconsults.com with a detailed nature of your request and complete contact information.

[1] What is Social Entrepreneurship?, PBS: The New Heroes, http://www.pbs.org/opb/thenewheroes/whatis/ (last visited Dec. 10, 2012).

[2] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, G.A. Res. 217A (III), U.N. Doc. A/810 at 71 (1948).

[3] International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Dec. 16, 1966, S. Treaty Doc. No. 95-19, 6 I.L.M. 360 (1967), 993 U.N.T.S. 3.

[4] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Dec. 16, 1966, S. Treaty Doc. No. 95-20, 6 I.L.M. 368 (1967), 999 U.N.T.S. 171.

[5] Declaration on the Right to Development, G.A. Res. 41/128 (1986).

[6] See supra note 3.

[7] See supra note 2.

[8] See supra note 4.

[9] See supra note 5.

[10] Self Determination Framework for People with Psychiatric Disabilities, UIC National Research and Training Center on Psychiatric Disability (2002), http://www.psych.uic.edu/UICNRTC/sdframework.pdf.

[11] See supra note 3.

[12] See supra note 5.

[13] What is Social Entrepreneurship?, Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (Dec. 10, 2012), http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/centres/skoll/about/Pages/whatisse.aspx

[14] See U.N. Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States, The Least Developed Countries: Things to KNOW, Things to DO (2009), http://www.unohrlls.org/UserFiles/File/LATEST%20IPoA.pdf.

[15] See supra note 14 at 2.

[16] See supra note 14 at 2.

[17] See supra note 14 at 2.

[18] See supra note 14 at 3.

[19] See supra note 14 at 3.

[20] See supra note 14 at 1.

[21] See supra at 14.

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