In paragraph 3 of the
common preamble to the two International Conventions of Human
Rights –the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights– the states parties acknowledge, in accordance with the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that: “the ideal of free
human beings enjoying freedom from fear and want can only be achieved
if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his economic,
social and cultural rights, as well as his civil and political
In order to know how this requirement is put into practice, it
is necessary to have a monitoring and enforcement mechanism. For
the past thirty years, the International Covenant on Political
and Civil Rights has had a complaint procedure that has allowed
for the development of ample case law on the subject. This procedure
was established by what is called a “protocol”.
However, there is still no such procedure for the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
Within the United Nations, the debate regarding the necessity
of such a procedure has been going on for over fifteen years.
An optional protocol to the Covenant has been drafted by the Committee
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and has been submitted
for consideration to the Commission on Human Rights.
The CETIM has long been militating for the creation of such a
mechanism. This brochure discusses its utility and provides information
on the progress of negotiations on this question within the various
United Nations bodies.
Thus, after a brief definition of several terms (I), and a presentation
of the what is at stake (II), the brochure will present the current
situation of the draft within the Commission on Human Rights (III)
–where there has been a general refusal to open discussion on
the draft– before moving on to a commentary on the draft by the