Economic and social rights within EU-Russia relations: a missed opportunity?

Bindman, Eleanor Frances (2013) Economic and social rights within EU-Russia relations: a missed opportunity? PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In recent years the EU’s strategy towards promoting human rights in Russia has been the focus of considerable internal and external attention, much of it critical. Despite longstanding programmes for funding human rights projects in Russia and the launch of biannual EU-Russia human rights consultations in 2005, the subject of human rights remains contentious within EU-Russia relations. One striking aspect of the EU’s policy towards Russia is its focus on issues such as prison reform, freedom of speech and prevention of torture which can broadly be characterized as civil and political rights issues. The purpose of this thesis is to explore an area of human rights theory and practice which tends to receive far less attention, namely economic and social rights issues such as the right to housing, health, access to social security and workers’ rights. Utilising data gathered from interviews with EU and Member State officials and Russian NGOs and a discourse analysis of EU policy documents on human rights, the thesis examines how EU institutions, Member States and Russian civil society actors conceptualise the meaning and significance of economic and social rights in both a general and specifically Russian context.
The study situates these understandings of economic and social rights and the State’s role in guaranteeing them in Russia in the historical context of the Soviet legacy of emphasizing such rights over civil and political rights. It also highlights enduring public expectations of what the State should provide and the policy of the various presidential administrations since 2005 of reasserting the State’s role in relation to the apparent realisation of economic and social rights through social service provision. It explores the differing approaches taken by human rights and more socially-oriented NGOs to engagement with various State structures and State-affiliated structures such as the regional human rights ombudsmen, and the privileged position Russian human rights NGOs appear to enjoy in terms of their relationship with the EU.
The thesis argues that the EU’s closeness to this very specific type of civil society organisation and its apparent lack of internal and external consensus on the importance of economic and social rights issues hinders its ability to raise issues relating to these rights in its interactions with Russia. At the same time, the fact that economic and social rights continue to enjoy a relatively high degree of visibility and importance in Russia make cooperation on economic and social rights issues an area where more fruitful engagement on human rights could take place between the EU and Russia.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: EU-Russia relations, human rights, economic and social rights, Russian politics.
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Central and East European Studies
Supervisor's Name: Butler, Dr Eamonn and Turbine, Dr Vikki
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Dr Eleanor Bindman
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4702
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2014 10:34
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2016 08:33

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