The organization focus is on promoting a human rights based approach to Economic and Social Rights (ESRs). The strategic approach for the organization is based on the core principles of equality and non- discrimination in access to social and economic services, accountability, citizen/community participation, adequacy and quality. Fulfillment of ISER’s objectives is implemented along structural and thematic programs that are introduced progressively, although advocacy work on any emerging ESCR issue may be done depending on the country context at a particular time.
Programs are implemented through a combination of activities including a) action oriented research, monitoring and documentation b) evidence based advocacy c) strategic litigation d) public information, e) capacity building and f) community outreach, sensitization and empowerment. ISER believes in this multi-faceted approach because it ensures diverse coverage, reach and inclusion of all social groups and audiences. The multifaceted approach is also effective because it allows for evidence based advocacy as well as knowledge sharing through dissemination of information tailored for diverse audiences.
Out thematic areas/programs are:
Right to Education
The program seeks to promote the right to education for all children in Uganda. The focus is on the child as the primary beneficiary of the right to education. ISER contributes to problem solving by advocating for a rights based approach to education service delivery in the country. The overall goal is to ensure access to quality education for all children in Uganda, regardless of their background or social status in an environment where education is maintained as a public good that is adequately financed, regulated and supervised by the state. The program emphacises that the state has the primary responsibility for realization of the right to education and private/non-state actors should only supplement that role.
Right to Health
The Right to Health Program promotes the right to the highest attainable standard of the physical and mental health as stipulated in domestic, regional and international human rights instruments. Projects under the right to health contribute to advancing the right to health in Uganda by catalyzing citizen participation in health rights advocacy and promoting accountability in the health sector. ISER ensures a deliberate and systematic strategy to get communities to participate in health rights advocacy, enable access to information, strengthening the capacity of grass root groups nationally to monitor and self advocate against health rights violations, continuous monitoring and documentation of violations for advocacy, including budget advocacy and legal empowerment for the realization of the right to health.
Social Accountability and Citizen Participation
Under social accountability and citizen participation, the organization seeks to explore the strengths and limitations of existing social accountability tools and mechanisms as used in local government processes with a view to making proposals for strengthening them. The program is exploring the links between social accountability and the legal and policy framework in order to understand the possible benefits and limitations of legalizing or institutionalizing social accountability mechanisms, as well as propose alternatives that will enable the poor and marginalized to be sufficiently informed, facilitated and involved in processes that concern their lives. The general objective is to contribute to improved community participation and Social Accountability for better service delivery in Local Governments.
Business and Human Rights
The pioneer project under this program is the Uganda Consortium on Corporate Accountability (UCCA). UCCA is a civil society consortium on corporate accountability aimed to enhance accountability by corporations, States, international finance institutions and development partners for violations or abuses of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs). At present, the UCCA has a membership of four organizations specializing in different areas of rights protection, including the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), the Public Interest Law Clinic at Makerere University Law School (PILAC), Legal Brains Trust (LBT) and the Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD).
The key issues for general advocacy include
a) Inclusion of all social and economic rights under the Bill of Rights in Uganda’s Constitution.
b) Ensuring that Uganda ratifies the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR and finalize the civil society shadow report to the committee on ESCRs.
c) Promoting participatory budgeting.