Activities of the Coalition
The Coalition's efforts are focused on ensuring the prompt entry into force of the Optional Protocol, its proper implementation, and increasing the knowledge and capacity of individuals, groups and organizations to work with this mechanism.
The NGO Coalition has been actively engaging with foreign ministries and UN missions in New York and Geneva, encouraging State Parties to the ICESCR to sign and ratify the OP-ICESCR. In addition, it has taken advantage of the opportunities offered by various international forums, to reach out to participating States, including the Human Rights Council Sessions both in March and May; the MERCOSUR's High Level Human Rights Authorities Gathering; the Summit of the Americas; and the African Commission on Human and People's Rights. The work has been successful in that the initial short term goal of the Campaign was to ensure a strong number of signatures at the UN Signature Ceremony of the OP-ICESCR on September 24. So far, reaching beyond our expectations, 41 countries have signed the Optional Protocol. A key advocacy action consisted on an online petition launched by the NGO Coalition. The petition received the endorsement of over 30,000 people from all over the world and served as a key tool to encourage signature by States parties to the OP-ICESCR and create awareness around the OP-ICESCR. To see the list of those who have signed the OP-ICESCR Click here
The UN Signature Ceremony of the OP-ICESCR was attended by a number of representatives of the NGO Coalition. A representative of the NGO Coalition was invited as a speaker to this official ceremony. Muthoni Wanyeki, current director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission stated the importance of the OP-ICESCR for millions of victims of ESCR violations all over the world and called for universal ratification. Navanethem Pillay, United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: "The Optional Protocol closes a historic gap in Human Rights protection. It reaffirms the equal importance of economic, social and cultural rights with civil and political rights" To read the full statement of the High Commissioner, click here
Input to the Process of Adoption of the Rules of Procedure to the OP- ICESCR
Another important component of the Coalition's Campaign is to ensure the adoption of effective rules of procedure for the Optional Protocol, which would allow the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Committee or ESCR Committee) to effectively fulfill its new competences under the Optional Protocol. A number of key issues, which will be influential in determining the effectiveness and competence of the Committee's consideration of communications under the OP-ICESCR, will be addressed in the Rules of Procedure.
The Committee started conversations on the Rules of Procedure in a meeting held in October 2009, prior to its 43rd session and will continue their consideration in its 44th session. Recognizing the importance of considering the views of a broad range of NGO's involved in promoting the OP-ICESCR, Members of the Steering Committee of the Coalition prepared a substantive paper based on developments in international law to support the adoption of rules which allow for progressive interpretation of substantive and procedural law issues, such as interim measures, friendly settlements, reasonableness, amicus curiae and standing. The paper entitled: Considerations of the International NGO Coalition for an OP- ICESCR in relation to the OP-ICESCR and its Rules of Procedure was circulated amongst members of the Coalition and groups with relevant ESCR expertise, and revised and streamlined by Bruce Porter and Donna Sullivan, both renowned experts on ESCR and international law.
The paper was then further discussed during a meeting held on September 24 with experts on adjudication of ESCR at the national and international level. The document was presented to the Committee for its consideration. Bruce Porter, in representation of the Steering Committee of the Coalition, met with Members of the ESCR Committee to further share and advance the position of the Coalition in relation to the rules of procedure and the interpretation of the OP-ICESCR. The document received very positive feedback and the Coalition is looking forward to continue contributing to the process of adoption of the rules. The Coalition thanks all the organizations and individuals who devoted their time and experience to contribute to this process and to the Ford Foundation who generously agreed to fund this process and supported the Strategic Meetings described below. The Coalition also thanks the Committee and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for allowing the Coalition to present its considerations on this issue.
To access the document and learn who the contributors were please click here for the pdf format and here for the Word format. A summary of the document can be also found in Spanish here in pdf version and Word version.
- MERCOSUR Meeting in 2009, available in Spanish