The Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Lagos del Campo v. Peru of August 31, 2017 (announced on November 13, 2017), by which it found for the first time a violation of Article 26 of the American Convention on Human Rights. This decision represents an historic milestone in the Inter-American jurisprudence and a step forward in the region for the interdependence and indivisibility between civil and political rights, on the one hand, and economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, on the other.
According to the Court, the Peruvian State violated the right to work in relation to guarantees of labor stability and freedom of association of Mr. Lagos del Campo due to the lack of protection for the arbitrary dismiss of which he was victim in 1989 as a result of his statements given to a media outlet about his employer, a private company, while acting in his capacity as worker representative. In terms of the rights protected by Article 26 of the American Convention, the Inter-American Court stated that such rights are derived from the economic, social, educational, scientific, and cultural norms of the OAS Charter. These rights are in turn defined by the rights enshrined in the 1948 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
The recent decision of the Inter-American Court on the effective application of Article 26 of the American Convention in the analysis of cases is not only one of the most important precedents in the regional jurisprudence on the matter, it also globally advances the strengthening of a vision of integral and joint protection of human rights by overcoming the divisions and politically constructed categories that interfere with the respect and guarantee of the dignity of the human person. The possibility of legally and bindingly demanding the respect and guarantee of the ESCER through the organs of the Inter-American System will permit the progressive development and definition of these rights as well as the State obligations in relation to such rights. It will facilitate the formulation of adequate public policies and establish regional standards and guidelines for their effective enjoyment and realization, especially with regard to the most vulnerable populations.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur welcomes this momentous step in the consolidation of Inter-American jurisprudence on the subject of ESCER, until now developed through its connection to rights traditionally considered civil and political (e.g., as a matter of health and social security or through Article 13 of the Protocol of San Salvador regarding the right to education) and calls on States to comply effectively with the legal framework of the system in this area in accordance with the standards developed by the Inter-American Commission and Court, as well as with the recommendations issued by the Working Group of the Protocol of San Salvador. Likewise, it makes an special call on civil society to join forces for the strategic use of the mechanisms of the Inter-American System in order to crystallize the effective protection of any individuals or groups throughout the region that are victimized by violations of their economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.
The Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights is an office within the IACHR that was specially created to support to the IACHR in fulfilling its mandate to promote and protect economic, social, cultural and environmental rights throughout the Americas.