Complaint Mechanism - UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
last updated 30 May 2013 – Information is subject to change. Please check the Committee’s website for updates. 
Type of Mechanism
Complaint Procedure under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Scope of the Procedure
The rights enumerated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Who Can Submit a Complaint[1]
Individuals or groups of individuals, under the jurisdiction of a State party to the Optional Protocol, claiming to be victims of violations of any rights contained in the Covenant; or NGOs acting on the behalf of a victim or group of victims.
Role of Advocates[2]
NGOs can submit communications on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be victims of violations of the Covenant. NGOs submitting complaints on behalf of individuals must show proof of consent to the submission of the complaint or justification for not obtaining consent. Because the Committee meetings in which the communication is considered are closed, advocates are not able to participate in the examination process. 
Available Remedies[3]
The Committee may at any time request that the State issue interim measures to protect the victim(s). Once a determination of the merits has been reached, the Committee may issue a finding on behalf of the victim(s). The Committee’s finding as well as any recommendations the Committee may have are transmitted to the State party, which then has six months to submit a response including any action taken. At any time before a final decision has been reached, the Committee may facilitate a friendly settlement between the parties with their consent. If no settlement is reached, the Committee continues its examination in accordance with the normal procedure. In cases of "grave and systematic violations" by a State party, the Committee may initiate its own inquiry into the situation.
What the Complaint should Include[4]
The subject of the complaint must indicate a violation of the provisions of Covenant, must be substantiated (including relevant facts and any supporting documentation), must not be incompatible with the treaty, must not be anonymous, and must not have occurred prior to the entry into force of the Protocol for the State party, unless the violation has continued. The complaint must include information showing that the victim has exhausted domestic remedies or provide evidence that the application of national remedies is unreasonably prolonged. The complaint should also indicate whether the matter is or has been a subject of international investigation or settlement.
Complaints which have been previously examined by the Committee or are the subject of any other international investigation will not be considered. The UN provides model complaint forms for individuals wishing to make complaints.
Additional information is available from the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.
Articles of the Covenant Concerning Violence Against Women[5]
NGOs may call attention to several articles in the Covenant in reporting a State party’s failure to prevent violence against women, including trafficking, sexual exploitation, and domestic violence, among other forms of violence, in violation of their obligations. Rights protecting women from violence include non-discrimination (art. 2(2) and 3), right to work and opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen by the individual (art. 6), right to just and favorable working conditions (art. 7), rights related to the family and marriage, including special protection for mothers (art. 10), right to an adequate standard of living (art. 11), right to physical and mental health (art. 12), and the right to take part in cultural life (art. 15).
The Committee requires all State parties to provide information in their periodic report regarding legislation and measures taken to combat domestic violence and violence against women.[6]
Where to Send Communications
The complaint must be submitted in writing in one of the six official UN languages to:
Petitions Team
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

[1] Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted by General Assembly resolution 63/117, 10 Dec. 2008, entry into force 5 May 2013.
[2] Human Rights Treaty Bodies – Individual Communications,
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A(XXI) of 16 Dec. 1966, entry into force 3 Jan. 1976.
[6] CESCR, Guidelines on treaty-specific documents to be submitted by States parties under articles 16 and 17 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Doc. E/C.12/2008/2, 24 Mar. 2009.