Pillay hails new step in protection of economic, social and cultural rights

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High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

A new human rights mechanism that has just come into force as a major advance in ensuring all rights are protected as envisaged by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 65 years ago, has been hailed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights enables people to seek justice when their rights to, for example, food, adequate housing, education or health are violated.

According to Ms. Pillay “Egregious violations of economic, social and cultural rights are occurring, often unnoticed, on a daily basis, which in the area of civil and political rights, would have been immediately condemned". She said "this Protocol will help to address this imbalance”.

High Commissioner Pillay expressed confidence that these mechanisms will make it possible for the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee "to assist States and other stakeholders to get to the root causes of violations of economic, social and cultural rights”.

The Protocol took effect on 5 May, three months after Uruguay became the required tenth country to ratify it and joined Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mongolia, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.

The Optional Protocol allows the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – the body of UN independent experts that monitors the International Covenant to which the Protocol is attached – to examine complaints from individuals or groups of individuals who have exhausted all attempts to find justice in their own country.

Only individuals from countries who have ratified the Protocol can bring complaints to the Committee.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’33″

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