Publicado el: 07/01/2013

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, theory and practice projected in AMIA

The conceptual framework on which AMIA bases its practices is the conjunction of the economic, social and cultural rights and the Jewish value of Tzedakah, which together ensure a decent life, in freedom, for every human being.

By Nora Blaistein

Director of the Department of Social Programs

AMIA bases its practices on the Jewish Value of Tzedakah, on the belief in economic, social and cultural rights for all, and on freedom for every human being.

The economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) are categories within Human Rights which encompass legitimate expectations regarding education, health, housing, work, food, social security, environmental issues and culture both in individual and collective terms. 

Many religions and philosophies have reflected on the importance of the values expressed through these rights. Most recently, these have been articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948), and resultantly accepted as international law. Numerous international constitutions and treaties have since supported and guaranteed these rights across the world. 

Most importantly, human rights mandate the protection of all people equally, regardless of race, skin color, sex, language, religion, beliefs, nationality or social origin, assets, birth, or any other condition. .

To this day, people continue to struggle for citizenship or protection of these basic human rights, on both an individual and a national level. However, despite the unanimous acceptance of their obvious importance, there are still serious obstacles that hinder access to these rights. 

Thus the question emerges: can these rights become a daily reality? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question.

Despite the aforementioned obstacles, the 20th century has undeniably brought about positive change, albeit slowly. The assurance of these rights has now entered national laws—allowing citizens to demand their enforcement.

While the state should play the primary role in assuring these economic, social and cultural rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights expresses that all sectors of society has the duty to enforce and respect them, as well as fix any social inequities.

As a social organization, AMIA prioritizes this commitment by considering these rights in all its actions. The emphasis on human rights is complemented by our Jewish values, especially Tzedakah, which reinforces our commitment to social justice and our respect of these rights.

The Hebrew term Tzedakah refers to the idea of social justice and solidarity. Tzedakah literally means “to deliver justice”, to do the right thing, rather than to perform acts of charity, or to be generous or charitable, it does not depend on the deliverer’s will. It is a mandate, something that requires action. It is considered a commandment as important as all of the remaining commandments combined

 In short, for the Jewish tradition it is an obligation to deliver justice, not an option: “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue that you may live (…)” (Deuteronomy, 17:20).

Jewish tradition also believes that men have an important role in the ongoing creation process that aims at world reparation. As per this concept, another supreme value that complements Tzedakah is Tikkun Olam, “repairing the world” in Hebrew. This value is another side to the Jewish concept of social justice and the responsibility of making humanity more humane.

 Our conjugation of the rights approach as well as the values of Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam make AMIA a Civil Society Organization with significant values that guide our actions towards the achievement of ESCR for the whole of humanity.

 The experience the institution has achieved in terms of the promotion, protection and exercise of social rights is plenty. This is why we have chosen a few paradigmatic cases for this issue. Each was developed by the professional representative and it integrates both theory and practice in order to share the learning experience and offer models that, if adjusted to fit each particular environment, may serve as guidance for similar interventions in other contexts.

Excerpts from the book: SOCIAL RIGTHS IN ACTION: Experiences of AMIA

Nora Blaistein and Daniel Pomerantz Editors, Buenos Aires, Ed. Mila, 2012.

You can click here if you are interested in viewing the complete book about these practices
 in Spanish.

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