The Observatory of Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (Observatori dels Drets Econòmics, Socials, Culturals i Ambientals – Observatori DESC) is a human rights center that, for more than two decades, has focused on dismantling the devalued perception of social rights—the right to housing, to work, to education, to health, to food—in relation to other fundamental rights such as patrimonial, civil, and political rights.
The center combines advocacy with research, offers consultancies, practices strategic litigation, and organizes courses and conferences. In this context it is also involved in the dissemination of research, accompanies popular demands and struggles, and plays a role in networking and supporting participatory social campaigns.
Observatori DESC has successfully led housing proposals at both the legislative and public policy level, together with social movements such as the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages (Plataforma de Afectadas por la Hipoteca – PAH, an anti-evictions movement). For example, a new Catalan housing law to stop evictions and power cuts was approved in 2015 after collecting over 150,000 signatures. Last year, a local policy requiring every new private building to designate 30% of the space for social housing was implemented in Barcelona after being proposed by a coalition of 5 social organizations, Observatori DESC being one of them.