Liz Nelson ■ COVID-19: Progressive Tax Measures to Realize Rights


Several months into the COVID-19 pandemic people are bracing themselves. ‘Build back better’ is the mantra, but what does that mean in terms of tax justice and human rights?  How should governments respond in the face of anticipated economic and social hardships?

Like many others we are concerned governments’ policies should not deepen inequalities or negate many of our fundamental rights. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, many governments ran roughshod over their human rights obligations, insisting that such considerations could not be priortised in the context of such a calamity. This perverse logic had devastating impacts for many millions of people. Indeed it is precisely in the face of a global emergency that human rights norms and standards should be given the highest priority.

This time we want to see a way forward which is both progressive and sustainable.  The Center for Economic & Social Rights (CESR) shares this vision.  Many of the public clearly share it too.

To find the right solutions we need to untangle ‘progressive’ rhetoric from ‘regressive’ policies.  It’s important we establish which are the policies that will make a positive change to people’s lives. And which are the harmful ones which will fail you because, for example, of the country you live in, your race, or your gender. 

CESR is publishing a series of straightforward issue briefs which aim to unpack the human rights principles that must be taken into account in policy responses to the pandemic and what social activists need to know. We are delighted to collaborate with CESR on this their latest briefing Progressive Tax Measures to Realize Rights.  The full briefing is available as a pdf here in English and in Spanish here.

You can find CESR’s published and forthcoming briefings here.

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