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Optional Protocol to the ICESCR Ratification Campaign

Since the previous newsletter in April, there have been exciting advances in the ratification effort! In addition to Ecuador, Mongolia, and Spain, El Salvador and Bolivia have also ratified the Optional Protocol to the OP-ICESCR, and more ratifications are expected soon. In addition, thanks to new funding, the NGO Coalition for an OP-ICESCR is coordinating a series of activities aimed at promoting the ratification of the Optional Protocol and its entry into force. In the coming period, ESCR-Net is planning national level dialogues and an African regional workshop on Social Rights Litigation which includes a component on regional strategies to support the ratification of the OP-ICESCR. Regional campaigning activities and advocacy initiatives during key intergovernmental gatherings and with the UN Committee on ESCR are also planned. Working with the Adjudication of ESCR Working Group, the Coalition is also planning events focused on Strategic Litigation using the OP-ICESCR. These are described below.

Visit here to access the OP-ICESCR Ratification Toolkit which offers background on the history of the OP-ICESCR, strategies for seeking ratification within your country and information on content of the treaty. The booklets are currently available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish. If you would like to become a member of the Coalition, please send an e-mail to:  

Strategic Litigation Initiative

Funds to advance the work of the Strategic Litigation Initiative on ESCR have been secured, allowing ESCR-Net and members of the Adjudication Working Group to continue to promote and support litigation which builds strong jurisprudential standards on the scope and obligations related to economic and social rights. The aim of this work is to support strong cases domestically and internationally which can contribute to the scope and content of ESCR, and also the OP-ICESCR, to increase access to justice for ESCR vioaltions. This includes supporting cases before United Nations treaty bodies on ESC rights; increasing awareness and capacity to use the OP-ICESCR; developing a transnational research and advocacy agenda on implementation of the ICESCR; facilitating mutual learning from developments in different jurisdictions and advocating for implementation of key ESCR cases. In March 2012, ESCR-Net will coordinate an Africa regional workshop on Social Rights Litigation in collaboration with member organization Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) in South Africa, which will address issues related to the enforcement of ESCR judgments and ratification of the OP-ICESCR. Finally, the SLI will support the identification of strong potential cases that can move forward under international mechanisms drawing on the expert legal advice of Adjudication Working Group members.

Enforcement of Judgments

In order to ensure that court rulings that uphold ESCR are implemented, enforcement strategies must be incorporated within the litigation strategy itself. In a key component of ESCR-Net overarching Strategic Litigation Initiative, the Adjudication Working Group continues to focus on enforcement of judgments. Regional workshops aimed to promote enforcement strategies into litigation approaches will be held in Bogota in November 2012 and South Africa in March 2012, as mentioned above. The initiative will also seek to develop partnerships for campaigning, new resources and methodologies for monitoring the enforcement of judgments and disseminating information to key stakeholders. In collaboration with Judgment Watch, a project which arose in part from ESCR-Net's meeting in Bogota on enforcement last year, pilot monitoring projects will be developed in the coming year.

Member Support

In the last term, the Adjudication working group supported two emerging cases related to forced evictions. The first was the Garissa case, for which the group facilitated and submitted a collective intervention requesting interim relief to halt further evictions and provide alternative accommodation for residents of Medina location in Garissa, Kenya. ESCR-Net coordinated joint work between the Social and Economic Rights Programme of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, the Global Initiative for ESCR, Socio-Economic Rights Initiative (South Africa), the Center for Equality Rights in Accommodation (Canada), and the Social Rights Advocacy Center (Canada) to collaborate on this intervention. Work in the second case was in partnership with Socio-Economic Rights Institute (South Africa), the Inner City Resource Centre (South Africa), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (Argentina), Center for Economic and Social Rights (Spain), the Social Rights Action Centre (Canada) and Malcolm Langford (Norway) in a case heading to the Constitutional Court of South Africa related to the State's obligation to provide temporary accommodation to evicted persons. Although the request to intervene was ultimately denied, this brief will be used for legal advocacy on other cases.

In addition, ESCR-Net supported a call from member Dejustica - Center for Law, Justice and Society, in Colombia - to submit a letter of support calling on the General Assembly of the Organization of American States to approve the indicators elaborated by the Working Group to the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Protocol of San Salvador). ESCR-Net has also been facilitating input to the ongoing constitutional reform process in Egypt by coordinating information-sharing and discussion between ESCR-Net members in Latin America that have transitioned from dictatorships to democracy, including CELS in Argentina and Dejusticia in Colombia, together with the Arab NGO Network.

ESCR Justice: Monthly Caselaw Update

ESCR-Justice is a monthly update, circulated in English, French and Spanish, highlighting an important economic, social or cultural rights (ESCR) case that has been added to the Case Law Database. To date, ESCR-Net has produced twenty three editions of ESCR-Justice, which can be found here.

The new cases disseminated since the last Newsletter include:
Issue 18 - Italy: Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) v. Italy on the treatment of the Roma and Sinti (July 2010)
Issue 19 - South Africa: Residents of the Joe Slovo Community, Western Cape v. Thubelisha Homes and others on the obligation to provide permanent housing according to the expectations of a community facing eviction (June 2009)
Issue 20 - South Africa: Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability v. Government of the Republic of South Africa Government of the Province of Western Cape on the right of children with intellectual disabilities to adequate and equal education (November 2010)
Issue 21 - Colombia: Decision T-974/10 of the Colombian Constitutional Court on the obligation to integrate health and educational approaches to promote the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities (November 2010)
Issue 22 - United States of America: Alliance for Open Society International v. USAID on freedom of expression for NGOs engaged in HIV-AIDS prevention and health outreach (July 2011)
Issue 23 - Botswana: Mosetlhanyane and others v. Attorney General of Botswana affirming the human right to water linked to the right to life and right to health (January 2011)

Please contact Rebecca Brown if you are interested in finding out more about these projects and how to get involved at rbrown [at]