The time has come to ensure that people whose economic, social and cultural rights are violated, in particular those living in poverty, are able to access justice within the United Nations. The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR, or the Optional Protocol) is the instrument that will make this possible, once it becomes operational. THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL provides groups and individuals the opportunity to bring cases (submit communications) to the Committee on ESCR - the body in charge of monitoring the Covenant compliance by state parties - for violation of their economic, social and cultural rights, when access to justice is denied or not available in their own countries.   

The Campaign JUSTICE NOW! RATIFY TO PROTECT ALL HUMAN RIGHTS seeks the prompt entry into force of the Optional Protocol and its effective implementation. The campaign is led by the International NGO Coalition for an OP-ICESCR (Coalition) and is coordinated by ESCR-Net. As of September 2012, the Protocol has been signed by 41 states and ratified by 8 of them. Two additional states need to ratify (or accede to) so the Committee can start receiving cases. JOIN THE CAMPAIGN AND GET INVOLVED! We invite all local and international organizations, activists and individuals that actively work or have an interest on the advancement of human rights and social justice to get involved. You can join and support the Optional Protocol both at the national and international levels. More information on how to get involved can be found here.

Civil society and NGO movements, among other actors, have played a crucial role in the Optional Protocol process, with the THE NGO COALITION FOR AN OP-ICESCR being one of the most prominent groups. The Coalition is a network of NGOs and individuals from around the world, committed to human rights and social justice. The Coalition is led by a Steering Committee, composed of 10 international and local organizations. If you would like to join the Coalition, or for more information, please contact Ivahanna Larrosa at:



Actions and Activities at the National Level

 The Coalition encourages its members and other organizations to organize advocacy activities around the Optional Protocol at the national level, including lobbying governments to sign and/or ratify the Optional Protocol (through letters, emails and meetings); organizing events (seminars, trainings) with the participation of both civil society and public officials, and launching of public campaigns that aim to raise awareness on the benefits of the Optional Protocol. The Coalition also provides relevant support to its members, whenever it is possible. For more information on these actions click here.

Toolkit for Action for the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultual Rights

The Coalition has recently published a new Toolkit for Action for the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The toolkit has been created for NGOs and other civil society groups as well as states, to facilitate international and national advocacy work for the ratification of the Optional Protocol and the national implementation of economic, social and cultural rights. The Toolkit is composed of four Booklets, which can be found here

Strategic Litigation Project in Support of the OP-ICESCR 

With the recent adoption of the OP-ICESCR, there would soon be a need to support good cases at the domestic level that could be potentially taken forward under the new complaint mechanism, in order to render positive precedents and provide attention to the process. The objectives of this project are to enhance collaborative efforts and shared strategies in the use of the OP-ICESCR, support organizations in countries that have ratified the OP-ICESCR to start bringing cases forward, and provide assistance and promote collaboration in the development of strategies and arguments. This project is being organized jointly with ESCR-Net Adjudication Working Group and the Social and Economic Rights Programme of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights at the University of Oslo. For more information on this program click here.

Elections of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Once the OP-ICESCR enters into force, the Committee will have the mandate to receive and consider individual complaints involving issues related to ESCR, undertake inquiries into widespread violations or receive inter-State complaints. Therefore, the quality of individual members can have a significant impact on the overall quality and effectiveness of the Committee. One of the components of the Coalition's campaign is to influence the periodic elections of the Committee, in order to ensure that it is composed of independent members with the necessary expertise. For more information click here.

Rules of Procedure of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 

After the entry into force of the Optional Protocol, the Committee will start to receive communications. In addition to the text of the ICESCR and its Protocol - the main legal basis in the adjudication process - a set of new Rules of Procedure will be adopted that will further interpret the Optional Protocol provisions. The Coalition submitted a paper to the Committee on key provisions of the OP-ICESCR that it considers should be reflected in Rules of Procedure related to individual communications. To access the paper, please click here.

Resources on the Optional Protocol 

The NGO Coalition for an OP-ICESCR and ESCR-Net, in its coordinating capacity, have developed an extensive resource page on the Optional Protocol, including information about its history, adoption process; relevant articles and publications; and links to other resources. The page can be useful to organizations, individuals, students, scholars and public officials interested on the history of the OP-ICESCR as well as on the enforcement of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in general.

If you would like to receive & share information on the OP-ICESCR, and to support the ongoing campaign in support of this mechanism, or have any questions or comments, we encourage you to join our campaign JUSTICE NOW! RATIFY TO PROTECT ALL HUMAN RIGHTS or contact us at

To become a member, please complete this short form and return it to

Moderators, Coordinators, Steering Cmte. Members: 

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