UN event celebrates the first anniversary of the entry into force of the OP-ICESCR in NYC
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), with the co-sponsorship of the Permanent Missions of Portugal and Uruguay, on behalf of the Group of Friends of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR), organized a public event today, 9 April 2014, to celebrate the first anniversary of the entry into force of the OP-ICESCR. The event was attended by some 100 representatives of States, UN agencies, and civil society.
Ms. Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave a keynote speech where she suggested that the OP-ICESCR “prompts states to adopt adequate remedies domestically” while redressing a historic imbalance by providing a complementary, international remedy mechanism for violations of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR). The OP-ICESCR reinforces the justiciability of ESCR and provides a vital space for clarifying State obligations.
More than a dozen Permanent Missions participated in the side-event. The recent ratifications of the Permanent Missions of Montenegro, Finland and Gabon were celebrated.
The Permanent Mission of Ecuador reinforced its desire to be an active member of the Group of Friends of the OP-ICESCR, composed of States committed to peer-to-peer advocacy and support for ratification. Similarly, the Permanent Missions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bolivia and Montenegro expressed their intention to be part of the Group of Friends.
The Permanent Representative of Spain noted that the first complaint had been submitted the Committee on ESCR and stressed the importance international remedies for alleged violations of rights.
Answering the call for ongoing ratifications, the Permanent Missions of France, Costa Rica and Cabo Verde declared that their countries are in the final stages of ratification.
The Permanent Missions of Argentina and Belgium also intervened from the floor during the side event , which was moderated by Ms. Maarit Kohonen-Sheriff, Deputy Head of Office of the OHCHR in New York.
Several States and the OHCHR emphasized the vital role of civil society and particularly of the NGO Coalition for the OP-ICESCR in the adoption and ongoing ratifications of the Optional Protocol. On behalf of the NGO Coalition and its more than 300 member organizations across over 70 countries, Chris Grove, Director of ESCR-Net, expressed appreciation for the leadership of the Group of Friends of the OP-ICESCR and celebrated the recent ratifications of Gabon, Finland and Montenegro. Echoing several State interventions, he emphasized, “Ratification of the Optional Protocol demonstrates an important commitment to advancing human rights as universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, reaffirming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and the lived experience of people around the world striving for lives of dignity, economic well-being, and meaningful political participation.”