Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: ICJ joins mission to support the Optional Protocol in Africa

The international NGO coalition for the OP to the ICESCR supports national initiatives to promote ratification in Africa.

The International Coalition for the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ended today a one-week support mission to promote the ratification of the Protocol in West Africa.

Although the group of African States played a fundamental role in the elaboration of the Protocol, none of them have yet ratified this instrument that will give the possibility to victims of violations of ESCR to have their case examined by the UN Committee in charge.

On 21 and 22 October in Cotonou, Benin, two members of the International Coalition, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists, supported national actors, including the Coalition béninoise pour les DESC, Amnesty International-Benin, the Chaire UNESCO-Benin, in the organization of a high-level roundtable discussion to welcome the signature by the State of Benin of the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR on 24 September 2013 and to encourage the State to move quickly towards the ratification of the instrument.

The initiative benefitted from the participation of two Ministers, the Minister of Justice and Human Rights and the Minister in charge of the relations with the institutions, as well as from the support of additional partners including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

From 24 to 26 October, and with the support of the International Coalition, a group of national civil society organized in Sokodé (about 400 km from Togo’s capital Lome) a national gathering to discuss the international standards on ESCR, the promotion and protection mechanisms for these rights, including the procedures under the Protocol.

Fifty-two participants from more than 30 civil society organizations from all parts of the country took part in this event.

Following the discussions, the organizers – the Plateforme DESC-Togo, GRADSE, RAPDA-Togo, FETAPH, WILDAF-Togo, FLORAISON et AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL-Togo, in collaboration with the International Commission of Jurists, the OHCHR, Amnesty International and Terre des Hommes France – established an action plan for the promotion and protection of ESCR in the country, including the monitoring of key recommendations of the CESCR and the ratification of the Optional Protocol.

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