Optional Protocol to the International Covenant of Economic Social and Cultural Rights Considered
Wednesday, August 15, 2007 1:39 PM

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated her support for the addition of an optional protocol to the International Covenant of Economic Social and Cultural Rights that would create a complaints mechanism. The commissioner stated that the mechanism would be an important protective provision to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will soon celebrate its 60th anniversary. The protocol would also ensure that economic, social, and cultural rights are considered as important as other international human rights and would offer a level of protection equal to other important international human rights treaties.

The optional protocol would allow individuals to voice complaints and to access remedies in cases where the state violated their economic, social, or cultural rights. Other similar communications measures have been very effective in this manner, and this would allow for better monitoring of states’ “progressive realization” of adopting measures to protect their citizens rights. The optional protocol would allow for a broad “margin of appreciation,” allowing states to assess which measures and policies it considers to be most important. The states would then be monitored by both domestic courts and international bodies who monitor states’ compliance with their obligations.

Compiled from: “High Commissioner Backs Work on Mechanism to Consider Complaints of Breaches of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” press release, Womens United Nations Report Network, 17 July 2007.