Advancing the OP-ICESCR ratification in NYC and Capetown

The NGO Coalition for the Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR) advanced its ratification campaign in New York, during the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and in South Africa, via a national seminar.  In New York, the NGO Coalition held meetings with several States members of the Group of Friends of the OP-ICESCR, representatives of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and civil society allies in order to strengthen our collaboration to advance ratification efforts.  Of particular note, France confirmed that the national ratification process was advancing, which we hope will ensure its ratification in the short-term.  The NGO Coalition also met with representatives of Montenegro, which became a State Party to the OP-ICESCR in September 2013; the representatives expressed an interest in joining the Group of Friends of the OP-ICESCR to help encourage fellow States to ratify the Protocol.  

ESCR and Development Goals: UN Commission on the Status of Women
As women’s rights advocates, States and UN agencies gathered at the 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to discuss “challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls,” the NGO Coalition for the OP-ICESCR and the ESCR-Net Women and ESCR Working Group joined many members in calling for human rights standards as the starting point for fulfilling and strengthening development goals.  During a side event, the ESCR-Net Women and ESCR Working Group highlighted the importance of the OP-ICESCR and shared its recently published guide: Claiming Women's Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Using OP-CEDAW and OP-ICESCR.

States have international obligations to respect, protect and fulfill economic, social and cultural rights via their ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other human rights treaties.  These obligations must guide development priorities, policy, financing and accountability, working to guarantee a life of dignity, material well-being, and substantive equality for every person. These obligations and commitments have been reaffirmed by States through becoming party to mechanisms such as the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant to the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR), which entered into force in May 2013, as well as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (OP-CEDAW) and the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (OP3-CRC), which will enter into force in April this year. These protocols provide avenues of redress and remedy at the international level for violation of human rights. At the same time, they reinforce the obligations of States to work towards the realization of human rights via policy, legislation, independent legal institutions, and international assistance. The first anniversary of the entry into force of the OP- ICESCR on 5 May, provides the opportunity for other States to announce progress towards ratification and reinforce their commitment to fulfill all human rights and specifically the economic, social and cultural rights, which are essential to fulfilling and strengthening development goals.

Advancing Ratification of the ICESCR and OP-ICESCR in South Africa 

In South Africa, the Community Law Centre at the University of the Western Cape, a Steering Committee member of the NGO Coalition, hosted a national-level seminar involving 30 civil society organizations and academic representatives on Friday, 28 March, to discuss ratification of the ICESCR and OP-ICESCR.  Among a series of strong presentations and discussions, we are happy to be able to share Professor Sandra Liebenberg’s presentation: THE POTENTIAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS AS A TOOL FOR POVERTY-REDUCTION IN SOUTH AFRICA. find it here


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