A key principle of human rights is that they must be applied equally to all people, without discrimination of any kind as to ‘race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.' As rights, ESCR are the entitlement of every person, simply by virtue of her or him being human.

Obligation of conduct and result
Under international human rights standards, states are obligated not only to conduct themselves in a manner that does not discriminate, but also to ensure that the outcomes of their policies respect the human rights of individuals and communities. If a policy, even one whose stated goal is to guarantee a particular right, in fact leads to rights violations, it is the obligation of the state to change the policy or make other appropriate remedy.

Affirmative Action
States are allowed and encouraged to make particular efforts to address the human rights of victims of long-standing, past and structural discrimination.

International Human Rights Standards
There are several UN treaties that specifically address the issue of discrimination, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination[CG1] , the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women , and the Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Their Families.  Also see Article 2.2 and Article 3 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Additional Resources
International Women’s Rights Action Watch-Asia Pacific, “Our Rights Are Not Optional! Advocating for the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) through its Optional Protocol. A Resource Guide” at http://www.iwraw-ap.org/aboutus/tools.htm.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: A Guide for Minorities and Indigenous Peoples
, Margot E. Salomon, ed. Minority Rights Group International, February 2005 at: http://www.minorityrights.org/admin/Download/Pdf/MRG-ECOSOC.pdf

Circle of Rights, Economic, Social & Cultural Rights Activism: A Training Resource
, “Module 7, Refugees and ESC Rights” International Human Rights Internship Program, 2000 at http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/edumat/IHRIP/circle/modules/module7.htm