International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights APPG on Equalities, 18 March 2014 Commissioner Sarah Veale Anna Henry, Director of Human Rights and Respect Equality and Human Rights Commission
ICESCR • • • • •
Background to the ICESCR Rights under ICESCR Progressive realisation Monitoring and reporting process Roles of Government, the EHRC and Parliament
ICESCR background • To translate the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights into a legally binding treaty • Led to ICESCR and ICCPR (1966) • Both note that human rights ideals can only be achieved where everyone may enjoy their economic, social, cultural and political rights • UK amongst first countries to sign and ratify
ICESCR Summary • Commits states to work towards the granting of economic social and cultural rights to individuals, including labour rights and the rights to health, education and the right to an adequate standard of living.
Rights under ICESCR • Work, under just and favourable conditions with the right to join trade unions (6,7,8) • Social security and social insurance (9) • Family protections (10) • Adequate standard of living (11) • Highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (12) • Education, with free and compulsory primary education (13, 14) • Participate in cultural life (15)
Progressive Realisation • Article 2 of the Covenant imposes a duty on all parties to: take steps... to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.
Monitoring Process: • Committee of independent experts • The state must produce periodic reports every 5 years to include: – Steps taken to give effect to the rights in the Convention – Progress made in the enjoyment of those rights / any difficulties affecting domestic implementation – Relevant information, including statistical data
Examination of state reports • CESCR Committee analyse state reports and discuss them in public examinations with state representatives • Lead to concluding observations • States expected to take action on the recommendations • Report back on progress in next periodic report in
EHRC – an NHRI with ‘A’ status • Monitor and report on the UK's compliance with UN treaties and recommendations of treaty bodies • Advise UN bodies about issues of concern • Make statements at UNHRC • Support implementation of UN recommendations, to improve the extent to which equality and human rights are respected • Consult NGOs and civil society and to facilitate their engagement with the UN
Relevant Select Committees & APPGs can contribute to UK UN treaty compliance by: 1. Contributing to the state’s periodic reports through: – Inviting the responsible Minister to present the draft report to Parliamentarians at the beginning of a consultation process; – Holding evidence sessions with civil society and the NHRIs; and – Providing comments on the state report, in particular ensuring it is evidence based. Individual Parliamentarians can also encourage their constituents and stakeholder groups to do the same
2. Contributing to the UN’s scrutiny of UK compliance by writing to treaty bodies ahead of UK examinations setting out the priority issues for consideration • [email protected]
UNOG-OHCHR CH-1211 Geneva 10 Switzerland Tel: +41 22 917 90 00
3. Facilitating the work of Special Rapporteurs • inviting them to visit the UK; • hosting evidence sessions with civil society and the NHRIs; and • Ensuring the responsible Minister makes a statement to the House in response to the UNSR’s report and lodges copies of it in the libraries of both Houses. • Cultural rights: Farida Shaheed [email protected]
• Health: Anand Grover [email protected]
• Education: Kishore Singh [email protected]
• Food: Olivier De Shutter [email protected]
• Housing: Raquel Rolnik [email protected]
4. Following up recommendations through: – Ensuring the responsible Minister makes a statement to the House and lodges copies of Concluding Observations in the libraries of both Houses; – Drafting legislation or amending bills in order to implement specific recommendations; – Encouraging the UK Government to develop a human rights actions plan(s) to help take recommendations forward and scrutinising delivery against it; – Asking PQs to ensure timely progress is being made in implementing recommendations.
• Inviting the NHRIs to support Parliamentarians in this role through: – Delivering awareness raising sessions for Parliamentarians on the requirements of different UN treaties; and – Providing regular evidence and updates on the UK Government’s progress in implementing recommendations – Rachel Zaltzman, Head of Human Rights Programme: [email protected]
Upcoming UK Treaty Examinations • Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mid-term review: Oct-Nov 2014 • International Covenant on Cultural and Political Rights (ICCPR): Oct 2014 • Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children: May-June 2014 • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Pre-Sessional Working Group: Oct 2014 • CRPD: April 2015 (TBC) • ICCPR: July 2015 • ICESCR: 2016 (TBC) • UPR: 2016 (autumn)