Back to What's in this Issue?

Campaign for the Ratification and Implementation of the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR - Justice NOW! Ratify to Protect all Human Rights

The NGO Coalition for an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has lead civil society efforts in the adoption of the OP-ICESCR, becoming a critical and prominent actor in this process. Now that this instrument has been adopted, it needs to be ratified, or acceded to, by at least 10 countries to enter into force. Beyond that, however, it is key that a much larger number of countries endorse this mechanism so as to bring the opportunity to access justice through the Optional Protocol to as many people, in as many countries, as possible. With this in mind, the NGO Coalition has launched a new phase of its Campaign: 'Justice NOW! Ratify to Protect all Human Rights' to ensure the prompt entry into force and full implementation of the OP.  During ESCR-Net's General Assembly in Kenya, the Network received a proposal from the NGO Coalition to undertake the coordination of this new phase of the Campaign which will continue to be lead by the Coalition.  The Secretariat and the Board feel ESCR-Net is well positioned to undertake this challenge and considering the relevance of the OP-ICESCR as a tool to strengthen protection of ESCR both at the domestic level and internationally, the Network  has now become the coordinator of the OP-ICESCR Campaign.

  •  Preparing for the September 24th Signature Ceremony of the Optional Protocol 

September 24, 2009 represents an important landmark for the OP-ICESCR. A Signature Ceremony organized by the United Nations (UN) will take place in New York in which the OP-ICESCR will be opened for signature and ratification or accession to State parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (see Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/10/L.14 of  20 March 2009). The involvement of domestic partners is key to ensure that a significant number of countries sign the OP-ICESCR on September 24, move promptly to ratify or accede to this document without reservations and allow for its prompt entry into force.  With this in mind, the Coalition proposes that groups interested in supporting the OP-ICESCR undertake a series of actions in preparation for the UN Signature Ceremony.

How you can participate:

1. Support the GLOBAL PETITION on the OP-ICESCR.  You can do this by taking 3 steps:

  (I) Endorse the Petition by August 19 - you may do so on behalf of your organization and/or in your individual capacity. 

  (II)  Add information about the petition onto your website and a link to it: In addition please email this information to your networks and partners, requesting that they do the same

  (III)  Collect signatures at meetings, gatherings, events in your community and school etc.  A printable version of the petition is available here.

2. Organize a national level event to create awareness about and pressure towards the signature and ratification of the OP, if it would be beneficial in your country;

3.  Lobby your government to ensure signature on September 24, followed by prompt ratification or accession.

If you want more information on how to get involved please contact us at

  •  Advocacy in intergovernmental events

In addition as part of our initial efforts to ensure that as many countries as possible sign the OP-ICESCR on September 24, the Coalition has written letters to capitals and country representatives participating in various intergovernmental events.  Up to now, we have directed efforts at the March and May Human Rights Council sessions, the MERCOSUR's High Level Human Rights Authorities Gathering, the Summit of the Americas, as well at the African Commission for Human and People's Rights. We also raised the importance of ratifying the OP-ICESCR during the last sessions of the ESCR Committee. The communications have in general urged countries to make a statement in support of the OP-ICESCR in those gatherings and to seek the support of other states to ensure that the Optional Protocol enters into force at the earliest opportunity. For the Human Rights Council in particular, we have asked States to include in the recommendations made to other countries under the Universal Periodic Review a request to give serious consideration to signing and ratifying this Optional Protocol.  During the ESCR Committee sessions, NGOs of some of the countries under review recommended the inclusion of the prompt ratification of the OP-ICESCR to their particular states.  View sample letters and a calendar of relevant events that could be targeted to advocate for the OP.

Get involved!
We hope many of you will get involved in supporting the OP-ICESCR in this new phase of the Campaign. Participation of national level organizations is critical for its success.  For more information about the Campaign, about the OP-ICESCR, or on how to get involved, please contact us at or visit our ESCR-Net webpage.  If you are participating in an international or regional inter-governmental event relevant for the OP-ICESCR, please let us know and discuss with your government's representative the importance of ratifying the OP-ICESCR. If you have information about your countries position's on the OP-ICESCR and their plans for September 24 please also contact us.

ESCR Justice: Monthly Caselaw Update

ESCR-Justice is a monthly update highlighting an important economic, social or cultural rights case that has been added to the Caselaw Database. The first edition of ESCR-Justice was released in May 2009 and summarizes a successful case from the Constitutional Court of South Africa in which a forced eviction was avoided through a negotiated settlement - Occupiers of 51 Olivia Road v. City of Johannesburg. Our second issue was released in June 2009 and it highlighted a case from the European Committee on Social Rights - FEANTSA v. France.  The case was important because of the Committee's extensive definition of the scope of housing rights obligations of those European States that have ratified Article 31 of the Revised European Social Charter.

ESCR-Justice is circulated in English, French and Spanish. We hope that ESCR-Justice will support activists and advocates to stay abreast of important developments in ESC rights litigation and promote exchange of litigation strategies across regions and jurisdictions that are otherwise limited by language and geography. ESCR-Justice is also intended to encourage discussion of crucial challenges for ESCR advocacy and encourage the use of legal strategies as valid and effective means for claiming economic, social and cultural rights.

The ESCR-Net Caselaw Database on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Related Jurisprudence, Cases and other Decisions and the ESCR-Justice: Monthly Case Law Update are created with the leadership of the following organizations: Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), Argentina; Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), USA; Dejusticia, Colombia; Human Rights Centre at Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland; Social Rights Advocacy Centre (SRAC), Canada.

Get involved!
Please send new cases and interesting developments in ESC rights jurisprudence to Rebecca Brown at To share information or strategies with other ESCR advocates subscribe to the Justiciability Discussion Group.

Expansion of the Caselaw Database

The ESCR-Net Caselaw Database is being revitalized and continuously updated as a critical resource and repository of court decisions and other relevant documents relating to economic, social and cultural rights. This renewal is being done in conjunction with our project partners by uploading new and important ESC rights decisions and updating cases with information on enforcement of the decision and any relevant outcomes following the cases. 

The ESCR-Net Caselaw Database is a collaborative project developed under the leadership of the organizations mentioned above and in collaboration with many other groups and individuals working to advance economic, social and cultural rights throughout the world. The ESCR-Net Caselaw Database makes ESCR-related pleadings, commentary and decisions available to a wide audience of ESCR activists and defenders across a range of countries, legal traditions and languages.

Get involved!
Please send new cases and interesting developments in ESC rights jurisprudence to Rebecca Brown at To share information or strategies with other ESCR advocates subscribe to the Justiciability Discussion Group.

Go Back to What's in this Issue?