Bringing ESC Rights Home - Ireland and the OP-ICESCR

Bringing economic, social and cultural rights home to Ireland

Ireland signed the Optional Protocol to the International Covenent on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR) on 23 March 2012 but, more than two years on, the Irish Government has given no indication of when ratification will occur. Amnesty International Ireland released a report this week: Bringing ESC Rights Home: Ireland and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that calls for the Irish Government to ratify the OP ICESCR. The report explains the benefits of ratification to Government and individuals and the relevance of the OP-ICESCR to specific Government departments.

Ireland has voiced strong support for ESC rights at an international level. At the UN Human Rights Council Ireland has emphasised the need to strengthen ESC rights “as an indispensable dimension in the full enjoyment of human rights”. However the Government have so far been reluctant to ratify, stating in July 2014 that ratification will be preceded by a screening of the obligations that the OP-ICESCR imposes and a consultation with all Government departments.

Ratification of the OP-ICESCR is essential in Ireland considering that ESC rights have limited recognition in Irish law and there are few remedies available, domestic or international, if these rights are not upheld. An illustration of deficient protection is that a Constitutional Convention recommended in March 2014 that the Irish Constitution be amended to include ESC rights (Amnesty International Ireland published on this subject in June).   

If Ireland takes its obligations under the ICESCR seriously then presumably the State would not shy away from a mechanism which allows individuals to complain when it is not living up to its treaty obligations. It is time to move beyond gestures of support for these rights and to bring ESC rights home by ratifying the OP ICESCR.


Please contact Nick Henderson, ESC Rights Programme Coordinator at Amnesty International Ireland for further details:


Working Group(s):