Report: Taking stock and looking forward - A vision for the work of the mandate

23 December 2021
Issued by
Independent Expert on foreign debt, other international financial obligations and human rights, Attiya Waris
To the Human Rights Council, 49th session


The multiple and converging crises of the COVID-19-era clearly point to the need for change in the way financial transactions, including illicit financial flows, and foreign debt are addressed vis-a-vis the financial capacity of States to protect human rights and avoid retrogressive measures.

The report is the first of the Independent Expert to the Human Rights Council. It aims to set the stage for her mandate. In this regard, the Independent Expert takes stock to identify past initiatives and areas of work of the mandate that have been successful, are deemed necessary to continue and lessons learnt of years of work since its establishment in 1998. Furthermore, she establishes new priorities, areas of work and topics deserving of substantive and renewed focus during her mandate.


The present report sets out the preliminary workplan of the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, in line with Human Rights Council resolutions 43/10, 46/8 and 46/11. The Independent Expert intends to focus her work on the following six thematic areas: (a) Fiscal legitimacy and human rights; (b) Engaging the evolving nature and role of the State; (c) Crises, natural emergencies and financial obligations; (d) The environment, illicit financial flows, debt and financial transactions; (e) Transparency of financial and tax information and digital systems; (f) The global fiscal system and its implications for human rights.

In accordance with her mandate from the Human Rights Council, the Independent Expert will engage actively, including with member States, in various forums, as well as with the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, the Group of 20 and the Group of 77, international financial institutions, United Nations entities and other international organizations, civil society organizations, the private sector and academia. She will also play an active role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related events.

The Independent Expert will undertake official country visits, at the invitation of Governments, to identify good practices, obtain an in-depth understanding of current trends affecting human rights related to her mandate and, in particular, in relation to the six thematic areas identified above. She will pursue a long-term vision, including programming and planning, as well as assisting Governments in implementing the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, and will address foreign debt and other policies related to international financial obligations, as informed by international human rights law and standards.

The Independent Expert will also provide advice and, if needed, undertake advocacy and raise concerns through the established working methods of the special procedure mandate holders. Throughout her work, she will focus on the impact of fiscal policies at the international, national and local levels on marginalized population groups.
The Independent Expert will provide advice and policy recommendations based on international human rights law and existing empirical evidence, with the aim of demonstrating that putting human rights law and policy at the heart of development and fiscal law, policies and systems lead to better and more sustainable results and an overall improvement in living standards

Call for contributions

The Independent Expert invited all stakeholders to provide views, documentation, analysis, and relevant information on these two dimensions to prepare the report. Contributions were received from national and subnational governments, civil society organizations and networks, academia, national and regional human rights institutions, UN agencies, funds and programmes, international financial institutions, Economic Commissions, private sector, and individuals. The call for contributions closed on 12 November 2021.

Inputs and contributions received from States, UN Agencies and Economic Commissions, civil society organizations and networks, academics and individuals are available in the following link: