The NGO Coalition for an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has circulated the following report:
On Tuesday, March 30, the National Assembly of Ecuador gave approval for ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It is the first country to do so … Once the Optional Protocol enters into force, it will allow groups and individuals whose economic, social and cultural rights have been violated to present a complaint before the United Nations and seek redress.
Article 18 OP-ICESCR provides that ten ratifications are needed for the Optional Protocol to enter into force.
So far, 32 states have signed the Optional Protocol, which was adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 2008. A number of other countries are currently in the process of organising internal approval for ratification of the instrument. Ireland, unsurprisingly, is not one of these countries.
For more information on the International NGO Coalition for an OP-ICESCR and the global Campaign for Ratification and Implementation of the OP-ICESCR, see here
Former Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing speaks at International Conference on ‘Budget Decisions and Economic and Social Rights’
This post is contributed by Chelsea Marshall. You can read about Chelsea on our Guest Contributors page.
Speaking at the ‘Budget Decisions and Economic and Social Rights’ conference held at Queen’s University Belfast this weekend, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari warned the Saturday morning attendees that if we were “expecting an uplifting and inspiring lecture”, this was not going to be one. In the balance of pessimism and optimism, he confessed, “pessimism triumphed”. He then proceeded to discuss the issue of budget decisions and budget work in the broader global context.
Special Rapporteurs are independent experts who hold honorary, voluntary positions and are mandated to examine thematic or country-specific issues of particular importance to the UN. Holding the position of Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing from 2000-2008, Mr. Kothari described his mission as an “overwhelming global mandate” to investigate and report back to the Human Rights Council regarding wide-ranging barriers to the effective realisation of the right to adequate housing. He interpreted this right broadly to include elements such as the rights to electricity, public services, as well as aspects of civil and political rights such as the right to participation and the right to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. Like other Special Rapporteurs working on economic and social rights (ESR) issues, Mr. Kothari dedicated part of his tenure to developing indicators against which to monitor a country’s compliance with the right to adequate housing. These indicators are structural (indicators that reflect the ratification/adoption of legal instruments and the existence of basic institutional mechanisms deemed necessary for facilitating realization of the particular human right), process (indicators that relate State policy instruments with milestones), and outcome (indicators that capture attainments, individual and collective, that reflect the status of realization of a human right in a given context). Developing and using specific indicators has been key, he argued, to identifying progress and room for improvement. He also spoke about his work on developing basic principles and guide-lines on the right to adequate housing, as well as the need to develop mechanisms such as eviction impact tools.
Having made thirteen official country visits during his time as Special Rapporteur (and many more unofficially), Mr. Kothari shared with the audience many lessons learned, as well as outlining many of the remaining obstacles to the realisation of the right to adequate housing. He also outlined a few reasons for hope as we move forward. Although his emphasis on challenges ahead dominated the lecture, his accessibility and frankness were encouraging as he spoke honestly about the realities he faced while advising the international human rights system on the right to housing. Read more…
The Irish Times reports that the Taoiseach and the Minister for Social and Family Affairs have indicated there will be significant reductions in social welfare spending in the forthcoming Budget. The comments were made at a meeting on 27 October between the Taoiseach, the Minister and the Community and Voluntary Pillar under the social partnership process. Seamus Boland of Irish Rural Link, who attended the meeting, said the talks centred generally on the economic situation facing the country. He said the Taoiseach had again indicated that cuts of up to €4 billion had to be implemented in the Budget in December. Mr Boland said Ms Hanafin and the Taoiseach had pointed out that as part of this process there would have to be significant reductions in social welfare spending. He said that they told the meeting that the country could not afford the current level of expenditure but did not provide details of where the cuts might fall in the Budget. Mr Boland said the Community and Voluntary Pillar had argued that cuts in social welfare spending would hurt those who were the most vulnerable and weakest in society.
Proposed whole-scale cuts in social welfare fly in the face of the results of rescent research sponsored by TASC which reportedly found high levels of public support for the funding of childcare, education and old age through general taxation. According to the Irish Times, the survey (which was carred out at 60 locations around the State, on a sample of 1,000 people of 16 years or more) found that 88 per cent believe old age provision should be State-funded; 87 per cent believe education should be State-funded; 78 per cent believe health should be State-funded and 58 per cent believe childcare should be State-funded.
The broad ‘cuts’ approach proposed by government also directly contradicts the recommendations of several of the presenters at the recent ‘Towards a Progressive Economics’ Conference (held on 10 October) which recommended economic expansion, fiscal stimulus measures and the reform of welfare, rather than simply a ‘slash and burn approach’ to benefits. While the Government argues that such cuts are necessary, one can only hope (however wistfully) that, in formulating the budget, it will bear in mind the obligations it accepted by ratifying the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights Read more…
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