Advancing ESCR in Mongolia and China – Lawyers, community leaders and academics gathered for strategic litigation workshops

On April 17-19, 2013, the International Network on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-net) and the Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD) brought together lawyers, experts, and community leaders from Mongolia, with three main objectives: (1) enhance knowledge among Mongolian NGOs and public interest lawyers and social rights advocates about the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR and how it can be used in support of social rights in Mongolia; (2) build networks of solidarity and support among lawyers and activists in Mongolia; and (3) follow up with local organizations in order to identify potential cases that could be taken  to the UN Committee on ESCR under the OP-ICESCR.

Steering committee members of ESCR-Net’s Working Group on Adjudication, Bruce Porter (SRAC, Canada), Jackie Dugard (SERI, South Africa), and Daniela Ikawa (ESCR-Net Secretariat), together with Christian Courtis (OHCHR), facilitated the workshop, which was organized with the support of NCHR, OHCHR, and Ford Foundation.

The workshop provided a space for the discussion of a range of cases being litigated in the country for the protection of social and economic rights, including labor rights, the right to education, the right to health, and the right to housing. Moreover, the workshop covered issues pertaining to different marginalized groups, including small farmers, Mongolian construction workers in Chinese corporations, forcefully retired women, children, and LGBT individuals. For materials from the workshop in English and Mongolian, please see below.

As a follow-up to the workshop, we will facilitate an ongoing dialogue between participants and ESCR-Net members in different continents, in order to provide support to strategic cases being litigated domestically and to identify potential cases for litigation before the Committee on ESCR.

Just prior to this workshop, two members of ESCR-Net’s Strategic Litigation Steering Committee, Bruce Porter and Jackie Dugard, led a half-day seminar on the OP-ICESCR and litigation of ESC rights on April 15, 2013 at the Institute of International Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.   The seminar was hosted by the Institute of International Law and organized by Huawen Liu, General Secretary of the Center for Human Rights Studies, at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.  Participants included Chinese international law scholars as well as practicing lawyers and civil society representatives.  Jackie and Bruce discussed the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on ESCR (OP-ICESCR) and its significance within public international law and described key issues arising in the litigation of ESC rights in a range of domestic legal contexts, with a particular focus on South African jurisprudence.   “It was a fantastic experience,” commented Bruce Porter.  He explained, “The hosts were extremely welcoming and kind to us, and we were astonished at the level of knowledge about both the OP-ICESCR and strategic cases in South Africa and elsewhere on ESC rights.” Jackie Dugard added, “It was a truly rewarding experience, with in-depth exchanges and some very useful discussions. We hope to have planted some seeds for further interaction and engagement on socio-economic rights issues.”

For more information, please contact Daniela Ikawa: dikawa[at]