New York Update on Outcomes in the Third Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Thursday, December 27, 2007 4:53 PM

On 25 October 2007, the Third Committee of the 62nd session of the General Assembly began consideration of six reports and four resolutions relating to economic, social and cultural rights under agenda item 70: 'Promotion and protection of human rights (b) Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.' The reports addressed the following thematic areas and on three occasions there was an opportunity for an interactive debate with the mandate holder and author of the report:

• the right to development (statement from the Chairperson Rapporteur of the Working Group)

• the right to food (interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur)

• the right to health (interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur)

• human rights and cultural diversity

• the effects of economic reform policies and foreign debt on human rights (interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert)

• globalisation and its effect on human rights.

Four resolutions were adopted by a vote on the following thematic issues:

• the right to development

• the right to food

• cultural diversity

• globalisation.

As in previous years, the consideration of economic, social and cultural rights by the Third Committee highlighted the division amongst its membership along north – south, or developed and developing country lines. The typical voting pattern on resolutions ensured that those States identifying with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) outnumbered those in the Western and Other Group, and were ultimately successful in passing all resolutions. Although there was clear agreement amongst States to preserve the language of previous years' resolutions, there were also some important additions to emphasise that most States welcomed the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.1 In the case of the resolution on the right to food, some of the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur were incorporated, and his valuable work commended by the Third Committee.

For the mandate holders in relation to the right to health, the right to food, and foreign debt, this was the last session of the Third Committee that they will address before their term of office ends. One of the controversial issues this year on the right to development resolution was in regard to language potentially committing States to an international standard on the right to development, which is being advocated by NAM States. The Committee will likely remain interested in this issue next year, with a particular focus on the kind of progress the Working Group makes on the issue.

Published in: New York Monitor, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), 20 December 2007.