Home > Human Rights in the News > Ireland urged to sign the optional protocol to the ICESCR

Ireland urged to sign the optional protocol to the ICESCR

UNFrom today’s (22/09/2009) Irish Times comes news that Ireland will not be signing the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). A group of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have condemned this decision, noting:

“The Optional Protocol is not about obtaining compensation, nor is it about trying to use the UN to embarrass national governments; rather it seeks to enable the UN to work with individuals and governments to find solutions.”

Fianna Fail T.D. Tom Kitt has also criticised the decision of the Government for its failure to sign and/or ratify the optional protocol. Mr. Kitt stated “The Government would … demonstrate its clear intention and determination to protect the human rights of Ireland’s population as we enter a challenging economic period ahead.”

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  1. aoifenolan
    September 22, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    This is a disappointing but hardly surprising development. During the negotiations surrounding the drafting of the OP, it was clear that while Foreign Affairs was sitting at the Working Group table in Geneva, it was always going to be Justice who would decide whether or not Ireland would ultimately sign the Protocol. Bearing in mind the existence of provisions in the Protocol such as Article 8(4) – which are not present in other instruments providing for UN complaints mechanisms and which were introduced following efforts of several states parties to weaken the Protocol – the ‘threat’ of a flood of complaints being decided against Ireland seems relatively small. And that is leaving aside the institutional limitations of the Committee (part-time members who only sit for a set number of weeks per year)! It is striking that a relatively wealthy, developed country like Ireland has not signed up when numerous developing countries have either done so or signalled their intention to do so. Claire Mahon has written an excellent (albeit it non-Ireland-specific) piece on this in a recent edition of the Human Rights Law Review. Other articles on the OP from a special edition of the Nordic Journal of Human Rights can be found at: http://www.humanrights.uio.no/forskning/publikasjoner/ntmr/2009/1/innhold.html
    The piece by Bruce Porter is the most significant in terms of the role of Article 8(4).

  2. September 23, 2009 at 6:54 am

    As a follow on–Irish Times today (23 Sept 09) reports IHRC calls for government to sign the OP: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0923/1224255061485.html

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