Three years after its adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has been signed by thirty-nine States.
Five of these States have now ratified the Optional Protocol and five additional ratifications are needed in order for the new treaty to enter into force.
Once in force, the Optional Protocol will allow the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to consider cases of individuals alleging violations of these rights and having exhausted available and effective remedies at home. In addition to the examination of cases, the Optional Protocol will also create mechanisms for the UN Committee to decide interim measures in urgent cases and to conduct general inquiries into particularly severe situations.
The new treaty is thus an important step in increasing access to international justice for victims of violations of social rights.
As a member of the International NGO Coalition for the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR, the ICJ is working with different actors to support the ratification of the Protocol.
Several ICJ Commissioners have already endorsed the Declaration of eminent jurists in support of the Call of the NGO Coalition addressed to States to take the opportunity on the occasion Human Rights Day and the third anniversary of the adoption of the Optional Protocol to ratify this key human rights treaty.
The ICJ and the NGO Coalition as a whole aim to continue gathering support from experts for the Declaration that remains open for further endorsement in 2012.
Declaration jurists experts-analysis brief-2011 (full text in English, PDF)AdvocacyAnalysis briefs