UN General Assembly approves measures to protect economic, social and cultural rights
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The United Nations has adopted a new human rights instrument to protect .
Thewas formally adopted by the General Assembly on , December 10. The protocol establishes a complaints mechanism to the , allowing individuals to complain to an international body about breaches of the Covenant. Complaints will be heard by the UN's .
The adoption of the optional protocol has been welcomed by human rights groups, withcalling it "a historic instrument that secures access to justice for everyone whose economic, social and cultural rights are violated". Souhayr Belhassen, President of the , said that the protocol would strengthen human rights.
"As we have seen for other rights, the development of an international complaint mechanism for victims of violations of economic, social and cultural rights will enable the strengthening of redress mechanisms at the national level, and of policies specifically targeted to ensure the realisation of these rights," he said.
A group of 36 UN human rights experts called the protocol "an essential step towards the establishment of a long-awaited mechanism that reinforces the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights". They called on all states to quickly sign and ratify the protocol.
The optional protocol will now be opened for signature. It will come into force when ratified by 10 parties.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights came into force in 1976 and obliges its parties to protect and progressively implement economic, social, and cultural rights, including labour rights and rights to health, education, and an adequate standard of living. The Covenant has 159 parties. The United States has signed, but not ratified the Covenant.
- Press Release: "Closing a historic gap in human rights" — United Nations, December 10, 2008
- Press Release: ""Economic, social and cultural rights: legal entitlements rather than charity" say UN Human Rights Experts" — United Nations, December 10, 2008
- Press Release: "NGOs Celebrate Historic Adoption of Optional Protocol for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at United Nations" — NGO Coalition for an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 10, 2008
- Press Release: "Access to justice for all rights becomes a reality" — Amnesty International, December 11, 2008
- Press Release: "Historic adoption of Optional Protocol for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights" — Human Rights Education Associates, December 11, 2008