The complaint procedure for violations of economic and social rights: more states must sign and ratify, says the ICJ

Only thirty-three states have signed and two states have ratified the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“This is not good enough, we strongly appeal to all states to advance international access to justice for violations of economic, social and cultural rights”, said Sandra Ratjen, Senior Legal Advisor at the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) joins hands with the International NGO Coalition for the Optional Protocol in a worldwide campaign to encourage more states to commit to this new international remedy. States must do so at the “2010 Treaty Event: Towards Universal Participation and Implementation” at the UN headquarters in New York, this is the yearly occasion where member states of the UN express their commitment to multilateral treaties.

For many years, the ICJ has been advocating for the equal and full realisation of all human rights and for the realization of the Optional Protocol. The new instrument enables the independent body of experts that supervises the implementation of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to examine victim’s complaints and initiate inquiries when violations of their rights have

The world is facing multiple economic and social crises, making it ever more compelling that social, economic and cultural injustice and impunity for violations and abuses be effectively prevented and combated.

“Today it is widely recognized that poverty is a cause as well as a consequence of human rights violations, and especially the violation of economic, social and cultural rights. Improving the respect, the protection and the promotion of human rights is key in the fight against the structural causes of poverty and conflicts”, Ratjen added.

Significant progress is grossly lacking in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to address this challenge. All states must show political will and firm commitment to all human rights. And the commitment to the Optional Protocol is a critical step in the right direction.

For more information: Sandra Ratjen, ICJ Senior Legal Advisor, T +41 22 979 3835 ; e-mail:


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