Assuring the right to life for all by recognizing its ESCR content

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On July 14, 2015, the Human Rights Committee will hold a general discussion aimed at developing a General Comment on Article 6, expanding upon its earlier General Comments No. 6 and 14 (from 1982 and 1984).  The half day discussion will take place in a plenary meeting at the Palais des Nations. Room XIX, 8-14, avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneva, from 10 to 13 hrs.

The discussion on Article 6 has a central relevance for the protection of ESCR and can further clarify the connection between the right to life and ESCR, as well as provide for a broader interpretation of the right to life that more effectively protects the rights of all, including those in situations of vulnerability. Clear direction from the Human Rights Committee to clarify that ESCR violations may also violate Article 6, and require positive measures by states,  is critical to ensuring access to justice in many jurisdictions.

In this vein, a number of members of the Strategic Litigation Working Group (SLWG) as well as partner organizations have presented contributions to the half day discussion, stressing the indivisibility among rights, in particular between the right to life and ESCR, and the need to recognize States’ positive obligations under the right to life, in order to protect the rights of differently situated individuals.

Contributions have also highlighted the role of international human rights law in protecting vulnerable groups, including those detained, women and LGBTQI. To assure protection to vulnerable groups, international human rights bodies, such as the UN Human Rights Committee, have the responsibility of interpreting rights from the perspective of those groups, that is, understanding and responding to the specific challenges they face in exercising their rights.

The Strategic Litigation Working Group (SLWG) will be represented at the general discussion by Bruce Porter (SRAC). To read the contribution submitted to the HRC by SRAC and GI-ESCR, with the support of ESCR-Net, please click here. Similarly, see the contribution submitted by former UN special rapporteurs with a focus on indivisibility and positive state obligations.

List of contributions of members and partner organizations regarding the connection between the right to life and ESCR:

  1. SRAC and GI-ESCR with the support of ESCR-Net
  2. Sanitation and Water for All (Catarina de Albuquerque, former UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation;  Olivier de Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to food; Anand Grover, former UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to health; Miloon Kothari, former UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to housing; Raquel Rolnik, former UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to housing and Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona, former UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights)
  3. Canada Without Poverty
  4. Centre for Human Rights and Development (Mongolia)
  5. Avocats Sans Frontières (Belgium)
  6. Amnesty International
  7. International Commission of Jurists
  8. Center for Reproductive Rights
  9. Human Rights Watch
  10. Minority Rights Group International
  11. The Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Geneva Academy
  12. Economic & Social Rights Centre (Kenya)
  13. Danish Family Planning Association
  14. Bureau des Avocats Internacionaux and Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
  15. International Human Rights Clinic, Santa Clara University School of Law
  16. Program on Global Health and Human Rights, University of Southern California Institute for Global Health
  17. Sexual Rights Centre, Zimbabwe
  18. Centre For the Development of People (CEDEP), Malawi
  19. United Nations Presbyterian Church (USA)
  20. Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network
  21. Advocates for Youth
  22. Hun Consultancy (Turkey)
  23. Mindy Jane Roseman, J.D., Ph.D., Lecturer on Law, Academic Director, Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School
  24. Dr Evelyne Schmid of Basel Law School, at the University of Basel, Switzerland
  25. Dr. ilise L Feitshans, The Work Health and Survival Project
  26. Carol L. Castleberry

Photo Credit: NESRI.