Complaint mechanism on economic, social and cultural rights enters into force!
Uruguay’s adoption of the Optional Protocol to the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights paves the way for a complaint procedure for individuals who allege that their human rights have been violated. They can now appeal to the United Nations after having exhausted all national channels of appeal. The complaint procedure will come into force on May 5th 2013.
“The Protocol will provide an important platform to expose abuses linked to poverty, discrimination and neglect, which up until now victims have had to endure without any possible recourse at the international level. It will provide a way for individuals, who may otherwise be isolated and powerless, to make the international community aware of their situation,” the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay said.
The Optional Protocol was adopted four years ago, on 10 December 2008, by the UN General Assembly. It gives the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – the body which monitors the International Covenant – the competence to examine complaints from individuals or groups of individuals who claim a violation of rights protected under the Covenant. It also enables the Committee to conduct inquiries if it receives reliable information indicating grave or systematic violations by a State party of any of the economic, social and cultural rights covered by the Covenant.
The establishment of a complaint mechanism for the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was one of the demands of the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993. Given the 20 year anniversary, which will take place during a conference of human rights experts in Vienna in June 2013, it is timely that Austria as the host country of the conference ratifies the Additional Protocol to demonstrate that human rights are indeed inseparable.