Complaints system for economic, social and cultural rights is a step nearer
April 2008 saw the culmination of years of work by economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) activists to secure a complaints mechanism for the International Covenant on ESCR when the Working Group set up by the previous UN Human Rights Commission agreed a draft Optional Protocol (OP) for submission to the Human Rights Council and ultimate approval by the General Assembly.
The new OP will mean that victims of escr violations of countries that accept the right of petition to the UN ESCR committee will, for the first time, have recourse to a dedicated complaints system. This will not only have important implications for securing redress for individual victims, as well as developing international escr jurisprudence, but will also go some way towards redressing the historic imbalance in the UN system between ESCR and civil and political rights. The draft OP largely adopts the formula of the existing OP to the ICCPR and to that end should provide a similar level of protection to its counterpart thereby underscoring the principle of indivisibility and interdependence of all rights.
INTERIGHTS is a member of coalition of NGOs supporting the creation of an OP and has played an active role during the last two years in a dialogue between the UK government, which is a member of the Working Group, and civil society on the potential value and content of the OP.
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' OP ICESCR page