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States parties and signatories to the ICESCR:      states parties      non-state parties signatories      non-state parties non-signatories

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from January 3, 1976. It commits its parties to work toward the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) to individuals, including labour rights and rights to health, education, and an adequate standard of living. As of December, 2008, the Covenant had 160 parties.[1] A further six countries had signed, but not yet ratified the Covenant.

The ICESCR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), including the latter's first and second Optional Protocols.[2]

The Covenant is monitored by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Contents

Genesis

The ICESCR has its roots in the same process that led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A "Declaration on the Essential Rights of Man" had been proposed at the 1945 San Francisco Conference which led to the founding of the United Nations, and the Economic and Social Council was given the task of drafting it.[2] Early on in the process, the document was split into a declaration setting forth general principles of human rights, and a convention or covenant containing binding commitments. The former evolved into the UDHR and was adopted on December 10, 1948.[2]

Drafting continued on the convention, but there remained significant differences between UN members on the relative importance of negative Civil and Political versus positive Economic, Social and Cultural rights.[3] These eventually caused the convention to be split into two separate covenants, "one to contain civil and political rights and the other to contain economic, social and cultural rights."[4] The two covenants were to contain as many similar provisions as possible, and be opened for signature simultaneously.[4] Each would also contain an article on the right of all peoples to self-determination.[5]

The first document became the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the second the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The drafts were presented to the UN General Assembly for discussion in 1954, and adopted in 1966.[6]

Summary

The Covenant follows the structure of the UDHR and ICCPR, with a preamble and thirty-one articles, divided into five parts.[7]

Part 1 (Article 1) recognises the right of all peoples to self-determination, including the right to "freely determine their political status",[8] pursue their economic, social and cultural goals, and manage and dispose of their own resources. It recognises a negative right of a people not to be deprived of its means of subsistence,[9] and imposes an obligation on those parties still responsible for non-self governing and trust territories (colonies) to encourage and respect their self-determination.[10]

Part 2 (Articles 2 - 5) establishes the principle of "progressive realisation" - see below. It also requires the rights be recognised "without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status".[11] The rights can only be limited by law, in a manner compatible with the nature of the rights, and only for the purpose of "promoting the general welfare in a democratic society".[12]

Part 3 (Articles 6 - 15) lists the rights themselves. These include rights to

  • work, under "just and favourable conditions",[13] with the right to form and join trade unions (Articles 6, 7, and 8);
  • social security, including social insurance (Article 9);
  • family life, including paid parental leave and the protection of children (Article 10);
  • an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and the "continuous improvement of living conditions" (Article 11);
  • health, specifically "the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health" (Article 12);
  • education, including free universal primary education, generally available secondary education, and equally accessible higher education. This should be directed to "the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity",[14] and enable all persons to participate effectively in society (Articles 13 and 14);
  • participation in cultural life (Article 15).

Many of these rights include specific actions which must be undertaken to realise them.

Part 4 (Articles 16 - 25) governs reporting and monitoring of the Covenant and the steps taken by the parties to implement it. It also allows the monitoring body - originally the United Nations Economic and Social Council - now the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - see below - to make general recommendations to the UN General Assembly on appropriate measures to realise the rights (Article 21)

Part 5 (Articles 26 - 31) governs ratification, entry into force, and amendment of the Covenant.

Core provisions

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Principle of progressive realisation

Article 2 of the Covenant imposes a duty on all parties to

take steps... to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.[15]

This is known as the principle of "progressive realisation". It acknowledges that some of the rights (for example, the right to health) may be difficult in practice to achieve in a short period of time, and that states may be subject to resource constraints, but requires them to act as best they can within their means.

The principle differs from that of the ICCPR, which obliges parties to "respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction" the rights in that Convention.[16] However, it does not render the Covenant meaningless. The requirement to "take steps" imposes a continuing obligation to work towards the realisation of the rights.[17] It also rules out deliberately regressive measures which impede that goal. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also interprets the principle as imposing minimum core obligations to provide, at the least, minimum essential levels of each of the rights.[18] If resources are highly constrained, this should include the use of targeted programmes aimed at the vulnerable.[19]

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights regards legislation as an indispensable means for realising the rights which is unlikely to be limited by resource constraints. The enacting of anti-discrimination provisions and the establishment of enforceable rights with judicial remedies within national legal systems are considered to be appropriate means. Some provisions, such as anti-discrimination laws, are already required under other human rights instruments, such as the ICCPR.[20]

Labour rights

Article 6 of the Covenant recognises the right to work, defined as the opportunity of everyone to gain their living by freely chosen or accepted work.[21] Parties are required to take "appropriate steps" to safeguard this right, including technical and vocational training and economic policies aimed at steady economic development and ultimately full employment. The right implies parties must guarantee equal access to employment and protect workers from being unfairly deprived of employment. They must prevent discrimination in the workplace and ensure access for the disadvantaged.[22] The fact that work must be freely chosen or accepted means parties must prohibit forced or child labour.[23]

The work referred to in Article 6 must be decent work.[24] This is effectively defined by Article 7 of the Covenant, which recognises the right of everyone to "just and favourable" working conditions. These are in turn defined as fair wages with equal pay for equal work, sufficient to provide a decent living for workers and their dependants; safe working conditions; equal opportunity in the workplace; and sufficient rest and leisure, including limited working hours and regular, paid holidays.

Article 8 recognises the right of workers to form or join trade unions and protects the right to strike. It allows these rights to be restricted for members of the armed forces, police, or government administrators. Several parties have placed reservations on this clause, allowing it to be interpreted in a manner consistent with their constitutions (China, Mexico), or extending the restriction of union rights to groups such as fire-fighters (Japan).[1]

The right to social security

Article 9 of the Covenant recognizes "the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance."[25] It requires parties to provide some form of social insurance scheme to protect people against the risks of sickness, disability, maternity, employment injury, unemployment or old age; to provide for survivors, orphans, and those who cannot afford health care; and to ensure that families are adequately supported. Benefits from such a scheme must be adequate, accessible to all, and provided without discrimination.[26] The Covenant does not restrict the form of the scheme, and both contributory and non-contributory schemes are permissible (as are community-based and mutual schemes).[27]

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has noted persistent problems with the implementation of this right, with very low levels of access.[28]

Several parties, including France and Monaco, have reservations allowing them to set residence requirements in order to qualify for social benefits. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights permits such restrictions, provided they are proportionate and reasonable.[29]

The right to family life

Article 10 of the Covenant recognises the family as "the natural and fundamental group unit of society", and requires parties to accord it "the widest possible protection and assistance."[30] Parties must ensure that their citizens are free to establish families and that marriages are freely contracted and not forced.[31] Parties must also provide paid leave or adequate social security to mothers before and after childbirth, an obligation which overlaps with that of Article 9. Finally, parties must take "special measures" to protect children from economic or social exploitation, including setting a minimum age of employment and barring children from dangerous and harmful occupations.[32]

The right to an adequate standard of living

Article 11 recognises the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living. This includes, but is not limited to, the right to adequate food, clothing, housing, and "the continuous improvement of living conditions."[33] It also creates an obligation on parties to work together to eliminate world hunger.

The right to adequate food, also referred to as the right to food, is interpreted as requiring "the availability of food in a quantity and quality sufficient to satisfy the dietary needs of individuals, free from adverse substances, and acceptable within a given culture."[34] This must be accessible to all, implying an obligation to provide special programmes for the vulnerable.[35] The right to adequate food also implies a right to water.[36]

The right to adequate housing, also referred to as the right to housing, is "the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity."[37] It requires "adequate privacy, adequate space, adequate security, adequate lighting and ventilation, adequate basic infrastructure and adequate location with regard to work and basic facilities - all at a reasonable cost."[37] Parties must ensure security of tenure and that access is free of discrimination, and progressively work to eliminate homelessness. Forced evictions, defined as "the permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection", are a prima facie violation of the Covenant.[38]

The right to health

Article 12 of the Covenant recognises the right of everyone to "the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health."[39] "Health" is understood not just as a right to be healthy, but as a right to control ones own health and body (including reproduction), and be free from interference such as torture or medical experimentation.[40] States must protect this right by ensuring that everyone within their jurisdiction has access to the underlying determinants of health, such as clean water, sanitation, food, nutrition and housing, and through a comprehensive system of healthcare, which is available to everyone without discrimination, and economically accessible to all.[41]

Article 12.2 requires parties to take specific steps to improve the health of their citizens, including reducing infant mortality and improving child health, improving environmental and workplace health, preventing, controlling and treating epidemic diseases, and creating conditions to ensure equal and timely access to medical services for all. These are considered to be "illustrative, non-exhaustive examples", rather than a complete statement of parties' obligations.[42]

The right to health is interpreted as requiring parties to respect women's' reproductive rights, by not limiting access to contraception or "censoring, withholding or intentionally misrepresenting" information about sexual health.[43] They must also ensure that women are protected from harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation.[44]

The right to education

Article 13 of the Covenant recognises the right of everyone to education. This is to be directed towards "the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity",[14] and enable all persons to participate effectively in society. Education is seen both as a human right and as "an indispensable means of realizing other human rights", and so this is one of the longest and most important articles of the Covenant.[45]

Article 13.2 lists a number of specific steps parties are required to pursue to realise the right of education. These include the provision of free, universal and compulsory primary education, "generally available and accessible" secondary education in various forms (including technical and vocational training), and equally accessible higher education. All of these must be available to all without discrimination. Parties must also develop a school system (though it may be public, private, or mixed), encourage or provide scholarships for disadvantaged groups, and are encouraged to make education free at all levels.

Articles 13.3 and 13.4 require parties to respect the educational freedom of parents by allowing them to choose and establish private educational institutions for their children, also referred to as Freedom of education. It also recognises the right of parents to "ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions".[46] This is interpreted as requiring public schools to respect the freedom of religion and conscience of their students, and as forbidding instruction in a particular religion or belief system unless non-discriminatory exemptions and alternatives are available.[47]

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights interpret the Covenant as also requiring states to respect the academic freedom of staff and students, as this is vital for the educational process.[48] It also considers corporal punishment in schools to be inconsistent with the Covenant's underlying principle of the dignity of the individual.[49]

Article 14 of the Covenant requires those parties which have not yet established a system of free compulsory primary education, to rapidly adopt a detailed plan of action for its introduction "within a reasonable number of years."[50]

The right to participation in cultural life

Article 15 of the Covenant recognises the right of everyone to participate in cultural life, enjoy the benefits of scientific progress, and to benefit from the protection of the moral and material rights to any scientific discovery or artistic work they have created. The latter clause is sometimes seen as requiring the protection of intellectual property, but the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights interprets it as primarily protecting the moral rights of authors and "proclaim[ing] the intrinsically personal character of every creation of the human mind and the ensuing durable link between creators and their creations".[51] It thus requires parties to respect the right of authors to be recognised as the creator of a work. The material rights are interpreted as being part of the right to an adequate standard of living, and "need not extend over the entire lifespan of an author."[52]

Parties must also work to promote the conservation, development and diffusion of science and culture, "respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity",[53] and encourage international contacts and cooperation in these fields.

Reservations

A number of parties have made reservations and interpretative declarations to their application of the Covenant.

Algeria interprets parts of Article 13, protecting the liberty of parents to freely choose or establish suitable educational institutions, so as not to "impair its right freely to organize its educational system."[1]

Bangladesh interprets the self-determination clause in Article 1 as applying in the historical context of colonialism. It also reserves the right to interpret the labour rights in Articles 7 and 8 and the non-discrimination clauses of Articles 2 and 3 within the context of its constitution and domestic law.[1]

Belgium interprets non-discrimination as to national origin as "not necessarily implying an obligation on States automatically to guarantee to foreigners the same rights as to their nationals. The term should be understood to refer to the elimination of any arbitrary behaviour but not of differences in treatment based on objective and reasonable considerations, in conformity with the principles prevailing in democratic societies."[1]

China prohibits labour rights in Article 8 in a manner consistent with its constitution and domestic law.[1]

Egypt accepts the Covenant only to the extent it does not conflict with Islamic Sharia law.[1]

France views the Covenant as subservient to the UN Charter. It also reserves the right to govern the access of aliens to employment, social security, and other benefits.[1]

India interprets the right of self-determination as applying "only to the peoples under foreign domination"[1] and not to apply to peoples within sovereign nation-states. It also interprets the limitation of rights clause and the rights of equal opportunity in the workplace within the context of its constitution.[1]

Indonesia interprets the self-determination clause (Article 1) within the context of other international law and as not applying to peoples within a sovereign nation-state.[1]

Ireland reserves the right to promote the Irish language.[1]

Japan reserved the right not to be bound to progressively introduce free secondary and higher education.[1]

Kuwait interprets the non-discrimination clauses of Articles 2 and 3 within its constitution and laws, and reserves the right to social security to apply only to Kuwaitis. It also reserves the right to forbid strikes.[1]

Mexico interprets the labour rights in Article 8 within the context of its constitution and laws.[1]

Monaco interprets the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of national origin as "not necessarily implying an automatic obligation on the part of States to guarantee foreigners the same rights as their nationals",[1] and reserves the right to set residence requirements on the rights to work, health, education, and social security.

New Zealand reserved the right not to apply Article 8 (the right to form and join trade unions) insofar as existing measures (which at the time included compulsory unionism and encouraged arbitration of disputes) were incompatible with it.[1]

Norway reserves the right to strike so as to allow for compulsory arbitration of some labour disputes.[1]

Pakistan has a general reservation to interpret the Covenant within the framework of its constitution.[1]

Thailand interprets the right to self-determination within the framework of other international law.[1]

Trinidad and Tobago reserves the right to restrict the right to strike of those engaged in essential occupations.

Turkey will implement the Covenant subject to the UN Charter. It also reserves the right to interpret and implement the right of parents to choose and establish educational institutions in a manner compatible with its constitution.[1]

The United Kingdom views the Covenant as subservient to the UN Charter. It made several reservations regarding its overseas territories.[1]

United States - Amnesty International writes that "The United States signed the Covenant in 1979 under the Carter administration but is not fully bound by it until it is ratified. For political reasons, the Carter administration did not push for the necessary review of the Covenant by the Senate, which must give its “advice and consent” before the US can ratify a treaty. The Reagan and Bush (Sr.) administrations took the view that economic, social, and cultural rights were not really rights but merely desirable social goals and therefore should not be the object of binding treaties. The Clinton Administration did not deny the nature of these rights but did not find it politically expedient to engage in a battle with Congress over the Covenant. The Bush (W.) administration follows in line with the view of the previous Bush (Sr.) administration."[54] The Heritage Foundation, a critical conservative think tank, argues that signing it would obligate the introduction of policies that it opposes such as universal health care.[55]

Optional Protocol

The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a side-agreement to the Covenant which allows its parties to recognise the competence of the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights to consider complaints from individuals.[56]

The Optional Protocol was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 2008.[57] It was opened for signature on 24 September 2009,[58] and as of December 2009 has been signed by 31 parties.[59] It will enter into force when ratified by 10 parties.[60]

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a body of human rights experts tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Covenant. It consists of 18 independent human rights experts, elected for four-year terms, with half the members elected every two years.[61]

Unlike other human rights monitoring bodies, the Committee was not established by the treaty it oversees. Rather, it was established by the Economic and Social Council following the failure of two previous monitoring bodies.[31]

All states parties are required to submit regular reports to the Committee outlining the legislative, judicial, policy and other measures they have taken to implement the rights affirmed in the Covenant. The first report is due within two years of ratifying the Covenant; thereafter reports are due every five years.[62] The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.

The Committee typically meets every May and November in Geneva.[63]

The current (as of January 2007) membership of the Committee is:[64]

  • Ecuador Chairperson - Jaime Marchan Romero - term expires in 2010
  • Egypt Vice-Chairperson - Mohamed Ezzeldin Abdel-Moneim - term expires in 2012
  • Mauritius Vice-Chairperson - Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay - term expires in 2012
  • Portugal Maria Virginia Bras Gomes - term expires in 2010
  • Jordan Vice-Chairperson - Walid Sa'di - term expires in 2012
  • Poland Rapporteur - Zdislaw Kedzia - term expires in 2012
  • Cameroon Clement Atangana - term expires in 2010
  • Costa Rica Rocío Barahona Riera - term expires in 2012
  • Philippines Virginia Bonoan-Dandan - term expires in 2010
  • India Chandrashekhar Dasgupta - term expires in 2010
  • Algeria Azzouz Kerdoun - term expires in 2010
  • Russia Yuri Kolovsov - term expires in 2010
  • Belarus Sergei Martynov - term expires in 2012
  • Germany Eibe Riedel - term expires in 2010
  • Netherlands Nikolaas Jan Schrijver - term expires in 2012
  • People's Republic of China Daode Zhan - term expires in 2012
  • France Philippe Texier - term expires in 2012
  • Colombia Alvaro Tirado Mejia - term expires in 2010

The Committee held an election at the end of April 2008 to replace those members whose terms expire at the end of 2008.[65]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "UN Treaty Collection: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights". UN. 2009-02-24. http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-3&chapter=4&lang=en. Retrieved 2009-02-25.  
  2. ^ a b c "Fact Sheet No.2 (Rev.1), The International Bill of Human Rights". UN OHCHR. June 1996. http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu6/2/fs2.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  3. ^ Sieghart, Paul (1983). The International Law of Human Rights. Oxford University Press. p. 25.  
  4. ^ a b United Nations General Assembly Resolution 543, February 5, 1952.
  5. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution 545, February 5, 1952.
  6. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2200, December 16, 1966.
  7. ^ The following section summarises the text of the Covenant.
  8. ^ ICESCR, Article 1.1
  9. ^ ICESCR, Article 1.2
  10. ^ ICESCR, Article 1.3
  11. ^ ICESCR, Article 2.2
  12. ^ ICESCR, Article 4
  13. ^ ICESCR, Article 7
  14. ^ a b ICESCR, Article 13.1
  15. ^ ICESCR, Article 2.1
  16. ^ "ICCPR". UN. pp. Article 2.1. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-13.  
  17. ^ Paragraph 9, "CESCR General Comment 3". UN OHCHR. 1990-12-14. http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/CESCR+General+comment+3.En?OpenDocument. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  18. ^ CESCR General Comment 3, paragraph 10.
  19. ^ CESCR General Comment 3, paragraph 12.
  20. ^ CESCR General Comment 3, paragraphs 3 - 6.
  21. ^ ICESCR, Article 6.1.
  22. ^ "CESCR General Comment 18: The Right to Work" (PDF). UN Economic and Social Council. 2006-02-06. pp. paragraph 31. http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/493bee38093458c0c12571140029367c/$FILE/G0640313.pdf. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  23. ^ CESCR General Comment 18, paragraph 23.
  24. ^ CESCR General Comment 18, paragraph 7.
  25. ^ ICESCR, Article 9.
  26. ^ "CESCR Draft General Comment 19: The right to social security". UN Economic and Social Council. 2008-02-04. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,CESCR,,,47b17b5b39c,0.html. Retrieved 2008-07-13.  
  27. ^ CESCR Draft General Comment 19, paragraph 5.
  28. ^ CESCR Draft General Comment 19, paragraph 7.
  29. ^ CESCR Draft General Comment 19, paragraph 37.
  30. ^ ICESCR, Article 10.1.
  31. ^ a b "Fact Sheet No.16 (Rev.1), The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights". UN OHCHR. July 1991. http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu6/2/fs16.htm#6. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  32. ^ ICESCR, Article 10.3.
  33. ^ ICESCR, Article 11.1.
  34. ^ "CESCR General Comment 12: The right to adequate food". UN Economic and Social Council. 1999-05-12. pp. paragraph 8. http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/3d02758c707031d58025677f003b73b9?Opendocument. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  35. ^ CESCR General Comment 12, paragraph 13.
  36. ^ "CESCR General Comment 15: The right to water". UN Economic and Social Council. 2003-01-20. pp. paragraph 3.. http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refworld/rwmain?page=search&docid=4538838d11&skip=0&advsearch=y&process=y&allwords=comment%2015&exactphrase=&atleastone=&without=&title=&monthfrom=01&yearfrom=2003&monthto=01&yearto=2003&coa=&language=&citation=. Retrieved 2008-07-13.  
  37. ^ a b "CESCR General Comment 4: The right to adequate housing". UN OHCHR. 1991-12-13. http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/469f4d91a9378221c12563ed0053547e?Opendocument. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  38. ^ "CESCR General Comment 7: The right to adequate housing: forced evictions". UN OHCHR. 1997-05-20. http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/959f71e476284596802564c3005d8d50?Opendocument. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  39. ^ ICESCR, Article 12.1
  40. ^ "CESCR General Comment 14: The right to the highest attainable standard of health". UN Economic and Social Council. 2000-08-11. pp. paragraph 9.. http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/40d009901358b0e2c1256915005090be?Opendocument. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  41. ^ CESCR General Comment 14, paragraphs 11-12.
  42. ^ CESCR General Comment 14, paragraph 7.
  43. ^ CESCR General Comment 14, paragraph 34.
  44. ^ CESCR General Comment 14, paragraph 35.
  45. ^ "CESCR General Comment 13: The right to education". UN Economic and Social Council. 1999-12-08. pp. paragraph 1. http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/ae1a0b126d068e868025683c003c8b3b?Opendocument. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  46. ^ ICESCR, Article 13.3
  47. ^ CESCR General Comment 13, paragraph 28.
  48. ^ CESCR General Comment 13, paragraph 38.
  49. ^ CESCR General Comment 13, paragraph 41.
  50. ^ ICESCR, Article 14.
  51. ^ "CESCR General Comment 17: The right of everyone to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author" (PDF). UN Economic and Social Council. 2006-01-12. http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/03902145edbbe797c125711500584ea8/$FILE/G0640060.pdf. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  52. ^ CESCR General Comment 17, paragraph 16.
  53. ^ ICESCR, Article 15.3
  54. ^ "Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Questions and Answers" (PDF). Amnesty International. pp. 6. http://www.amnestyusa.org/escr/files/escr_qa.pdf. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  55. ^ Cowin, Andrew J. (1993-07-29). "Human Rights Treaty Poses Dangers For America". Heritage Foundation. http://www.heritage.org/Research/PoliticalPhilosophy/EM361.cfm?renderforprint=1. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  56. ^ "Closing a historic gap in human rights". United Nations. 2008-12-10. http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/D39BD9ED5406650FC125751C0039FE08?opendocument. Retrieved 2008-12-13.  
  57. ^ ""Economic, social and cultural rights: legal entitlements rather than charity" say UN Human Rights Experts". United Nations. 2008-12-10. http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/C5486C42747EC60BC125751B005B08B3?opendocument. Retrieved 2008-12-13.  
  58. ^ "UN urges States to adhere to new instrument to protect human rights". United Nations. 2009-09-24. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=32207&Cr=cultural+rights&Cr1=. Retrieved 2009-09-27.  
  59. ^ "Parties to the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights". United Nations Treaty Collection. http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-3-a&chapter=4&lang=en. Retrieved 2009-10-06.  
  60. ^ OP-ICESCR, Article 18.
  61. ^ "ECOSOC Resolution 1985/17". UN OHCHR. 1985-05-28. http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/ECOSOC/resolutions/E-RES-1985-17.doc. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  62. ^ "Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights". UN OHCHR. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/index.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-03.  
  63. ^ "Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Sessions". UN OHCHR. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/sessions.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-03.  
  64. ^ "Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Members". UN OHCHR. 2007-01-01. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/members.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  65. ^ "Election of the Members of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to replace those whose terms are due to expire on 31 December 2008". UN OHCHR. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/elections.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  

External links


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Information about this edition
Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly, resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966

entry into force 3 January 1976, in accordance with article 27

Contents

Preamble

The States Parties to the present Covenant, Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Recognizing that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person,

Recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his economic, social and cultural rights, as well as his civil and political rights,

Considering the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms,

Realizing that the individual, having duties to other individuals and to the community to which he belongs, is under a responsibility to strive for the promotion and observance of the rights recognized in the present Covenant,

Agree upon the following articles:

PART I

Article 1

  1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
  2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
  3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

PART II

Article 2

  1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.
  2. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
  3. Developing countries, with due regard to human rights and their national economy, may determine to what extent they would guarantee the economic rights recognized in the present Covenant to non-nationals.

Article 3

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the present Covenant.

Article 4

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, in the enjoyment of those rights provided by the State in conformity with the present Covenant, the State may subject such rights only to such limitations as are determined by law only in so far as this may be compatible with the nature of these rights and solely for the purpose of promoting the general welfare in a democratic society.

Article 5

  1. Nothing in the present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights or freedoms recognized herein, or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the present Covenant.
  2. No restriction upon or derogation from any of the fundamental human rights recognized or existing in any country in virtue of law, conventions, regulations or custom shall be admitted on the pretext that the present Covenant does not recognize such rights or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent.

PART III

Article 6

  1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.
  2. The steps to be taken by a State Party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.

Article 7

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work which ensure, in particular:

(a) Remuneration which provides all workers, as a minimum, with:
(i) Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work;
(ii) A decent living for themselves and their families in accordance with the provisions of the present Covenant;
(b) Safe and healthy working conditions;
(c) Equal opportunity for everyone to be promoted in his employment to an appropriate higher level, subject to no considerations other than those of seniority and competence;
(d) Rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays

Article 8

  1. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure:
    (a) The right of everyone to form trade unions and join the trade union of his choice, subject only to the rules of the organization concerned, for the promotion and protection of his economic and social interests. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public order or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others;
    (b) The right of trade unions to establish national federations or confederations and the right of the latter to form or join international trade-union organizations;
    (c) The right of trade unions to function freely subject to no limitations other than those prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public order or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others;
    (d) The right to strike, provided that it is exercised in conformity with the laws of the particular country.
  2. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces or of the police or of the administration of the State.
  3. Nothing in this article shall authorize States Parties to the International Labour Organisation Convention of 1948 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize to take legislative measures which would prejudice, or apply the law in such a manner as would prejudice, the guarantees provided for in that Convention.

Article 9

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance.

Article 10

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that:

  1. The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children. Marriage must be entered into with the free consent of the intending spouses.
  2. Special protection should be accorded to mothers during a reasonable period before and after childbirth. During such period working mothers should be accorded paid leave or leave with adequate social security benefits.
  3. Special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and young persons without any discrimination for reasons of parentage or other conditions. Children and young persons should be protected from economic and social exploitation. Their employment in work harmful to their morals or health or dangerous to life or likely to hamper their normal development should be punishable by law. States should also set age limits below which the paid employment of child labour should be prohibited and punishable by law.

Article 11

  1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent.
  2. The States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually and through international co-operation, the measures, including specific programmes, which are needed:
    (a) To improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources;
    (b) Taking into account the problems of both food-importing and food-exporting countries, to ensure an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need.

Article 12

  1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
  2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for:
    (a) The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child;
    (b) The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene;
    (c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases;
    (d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.

Article 13

  1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  2. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, with a view to achieving the full realization of this right:
    (a) Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all;
    (b) Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;
    (c) Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;
    (d) Fundamental education shall be encouraged or intensified as far as possible for those persons who have not received or completed the whole period of their primary education;
    (e) The development of a system of schools at all levels shall be actively pursued, an adequate fellowship system shall be established, and the material conditions of teaching staff shall be continuously improved.
  3. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
  4. No part of this article shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principles set forth in paragraph I of this article and to the requirement that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.

Article 14

Each State Party to the present Covenant which, at the time of becoming a Party, has not been able to secure in its metropolitan territory or other territories under its jurisdiction compulsory primary education, free of charge, undertakes, within two years, to work out and adopt a detailed plan of action for the progressive implementation, within a reasonable number of years, to be fixed in the plan, of the principle of compulsory education free of charge for all.

Article 15

  1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone:
    (a) To take part in cultural life;
    (b) To enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications;
    (c) To benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
  2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for the conservation, the development and the diffusion of science and culture.
  3. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity.
  4. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the benefits to be derived from the encouragement and development of international contacts and co-operation in the scientific and cultural fields.

PART IV

Article 16

  1. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to submit in conformity with this part of the Covenant reports on the measures which they have adopted and the progress made in achieving the observance of the rights recognized herein.
  2. (a) All reports shall be submitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall transmit copies to the Economic and Social Council for consideration in accordance with the provisions of the present Covenant;
    (b) The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall also transmit to the specialized agencies copies of the reports, or any relevant parts therefrom, from States Parties to the present Covenant which are also members of these specialized agencies in so far as these reports, or parts therefrom, relate to any matters which fall within the responsibilities of the said agencies in accordance with their constitutional instruments.

Article 17

  1. The States Parties to the present Covenant shall furnish their reports in stages, in accordance with a programme to be established by the Economic and Social Council within one year of the entry into force of the present Covenant after consultation with the States Parties and the specialized agencies concerned.
  2. Reports may indicate factors and difficulties affecting the degree of fulfilment of obligations under the present Covenant.
  3. Where relevant information has previously been furnished to the United Nations or to any specialized agency by any State Party to the present Covenant, it will not be necessary to reproduce that information, but a precise reference to the information so furnished will suffice.

Article 18

Pursuant to its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Economic and Social Council may make arrangements with the specialized agencies in respect of their reporting to it on the progress made in achieving the observance of the provisions of the present Covenant falling within the scope of their activities. These reports may include particulars of decisions and recommendations on such implementation adopted by their competent organs.

Article 19

The Economic and Social Council may transmit to the Commission on Human Rights for study and general recommendation or, as appropriate, for information the reports concerning human rights submitted by States in accordance with articles 16 and 17, and those concerning human rights submitted by the specialized agencies in accordance with article 18.

Article 20

The States Parties to the present Covenant and the specialized agencies concerned may submit comments to the Economic and Social Council on any general recommendation under article 19 or reference to such general recommendation in any report of the Commission on Human Rights or any documentation referred to therein.

Article 21

The Economic and Social Council may submit from time to time to the General Assembly reports with recommendations of a general nature and a summary of the information received from the States Parties to the present Covenant and the specialized agencies on the measures taken and the progress made in achieving general observance of the rights recognized in the present Covenant.

Article 22

The Economic and Social Council may bring to the attention of other organs of the United Nations, their subsidiary organs and specialized agencies concerned with furnishing technical assistance any matters arising out of the reports referred to in this part of the present Covenant which may assist such bodies in deciding, each within its field of competence, on the advisability of international measures likely to contribute to the effective progressive implementation of the present Covenant.

Article 23

The States Parties to the present Covenant agree that international action for the achievement of the rights recognized in the present Covenant includes such methods as the conclusion of conventions, the adoption of recommendations, the furnishing of technical assistance and the holding of regional meetings and technical meetings for the purpose of consultation and study organized in conjunction with the Governments concerned.

Article 24

Nothing in the present Covenant shall be interpreted as impairing the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and of the constitutions of the specialized agencies which define the respective responsibilities of the various organs of the United Nations and of the specialized agencies in regard to the matters dealt with in the present Covenant.

Article 25

Nothing in the present Covenant shall be interpreted as impairing the inherent right of all peoples to enjoy and utilize fully and freely their natural wealth and resources.

PART V

Article 26

  1. The present Covenant is open for signature by any State Member of the United Nations or member of any of its specialized agencies, by any State Party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and by any other State which has been invited by the General Assembly of the United Nations to become a party to the present Covenant.
  2. The present Covenant is subject to ratification. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
  3. The present Covenant shall be open to accession by any State referred to in paragraph 1 of this article.
  4. Accession shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
  5. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States which have signed the present Covenant or acceded to it of the deposit of each instrument of ratification or accession.

Article 27

  1. The present Covenant shall enter into force three months after the date of the deposit with the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or instrument of accession.
  2. For each State ratifying the present Covenant or acceding to it after the deposit of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or instrument of accession, the present Covenant shall enter into force three months after the date of the deposit of its own instrument of ratification or instrument of accession.

Article 28

The provisions of the present Covenant shall extend to all parts of federal States without any limitations or exceptions.

Article 29

  1. Any State Party to the present Covenant may propose an amendment and file it with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Secretary-General shall thereupon communicate any proposed amendments to the States Parties to the present Covenant with a request that they notify him whether they favour a conference of States Parties for the purpose of considering and voting upon the proposals. In the event that at least one third of the States Parties favours such a conference, the Secretary-General shall convene the conference under the auspices of the United Nations. Any amendment adopted by a majority of the States Parties present and voting at the conference shall be submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations for approval.
  2. Amendments shall come into force when they have been approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations and accepted by a two-thirds majority of the States Parties to the present Covenant in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.
  3. When amendments come into force they shall be binding on those States Parties which have accepted them, other States Parties still being bound by the provisions of the present Covenant and any earlier amendment which they have accepted.

Article 30

Irrespective of the notifications made under article 26, paragraph 5, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States referred to in paragraph I of the same article of the following particulars:

(a) Signatures, ratifications and accessions under article 26;
(b) The date of the entry into force of the present Covenant under article 27 and the date of the entry into force of any amendments under article 29.

Article 31

  1. The present Covenant, of which the Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the United Nations.
  2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit certified copies of the present Covenant to all States referred to in article 26.
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