2004 Statement by the NGO Coalition during the first session of OEWG
NGO COALITION FOR AN OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO ICESCR
Statement to the Open-Ended Working Group to consider options regarding the elaboration of an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Madame Chairperson, my name is Vincent Calderhead and I represent the Non-Government Organisation “Coalition for an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”. The Coalition is a network of national, regional and international organisations. Thank-you for the opportunity to speak today.
It is time to adopt an Optional Protocol to the ICESCR. This Open-Ended Working Group provides member states with the opportunity to take the next step in the process towards the achievement of this goal, and to demonstrate an on-going commitment to an effective human rights treaty system.
It’s time to honour the commitments made during the Vienna Conference on Human Rights, which affirmed the indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights and we recommended that the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights work with the Commission on Human Rights to examine a draft Optional Protocol to the ICESCR.
It is erroneous to suggest that the justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights is in question. In jurisdictions across the world, and through the various regional mechanisms, the justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights is being elaborated. At all levels of obligations and for all rights in the treaty, domestic and regional adjudicatory bodies are demonstrating the justiciability of human rights. It is time to codify these judgments through the adoption of an OP to the ICESCR.
The number of NGOs who are both here in the room and those at home are part of the network of activists working towards the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights. We are part of the growing global momentum for the adoption of an Optional Protocol to ICESCR. Among our coalition are litigators of economic, social and cultural rights, organisations which implement human rights through policies and programs, and grassroots activists working to achieve empowerment of individuals within the community. To that end, we have submitted a joint statement from a number of NGOs which articulates the critical components of an Optional Protocol to the ICESCR.
Madame Chairperson, we strongly urge the Open-Ended Working Group to:
- Commit to the adoption of an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
- Build on previous work undertaken in respect to the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR and consider the experiences of regional economic, social and cultural rights mechanisms;
- Extend the mandate of the Open-Ended Working Group to support the realisation of this goal in a timely manner.