Billions of women, men and children face levels of deprivation that undermine the right to live with dignity. Hunger, homelessness and preventable diseases are not inevitable social problems or simply the result of natural disasters – they are a violation of people’s economic, social and cultural rights.
Access to justice is an essential right of victims of all human rights violations. However, many people around the world, particularly those living in poverty and other marginalized groups, have their rights violated on a daily basis. Too often, they are denied justice when they try to challenge these violations.
In many countries, economic, social and cultural rights are not recognized or enforceable by law. Existing remedies may also be ineffective in providing reparation, including compensation, rehabilitation and restitution to victims or inadequately enforced.
In December 2008, the UN General Assembly adopted the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Optional Protocol). It began to rectify historic imbalances in the universal protection of economic, social and cultural rights.
The Optional Protocol establishes an international mechanism for individuals whose economic, social and cultural rights are violated and who are denied a domestic remedy to seek justice at the international level. Amnesty International, in partnership with the NGO Coalition for an Optional Protocol, is calling on all UN member states to ensure that access to justice and the right to an effective remedy become a reality for all victims of human rights violations.
In particular, we are asking all States to take the necessary steps to become a party to the Optional Protocol when it opens for signature on September 24, 2009; to ensure that it enters into force as soon as possible; and to fully implement the Optional Protocol without delay.
Ask all governments to take a historic step on 24 September 2009 to ensure access to justice for people everywhere whose economic, social and cultural rights are violated.
This work is part of Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity campaign which aims to end the human rights violations that drive and deepen global poverty. The campaign will mobilise people all over the world to demand that governments, corporations and others who have power listen to the voices of those living in poverty and recognise and protect their rights. For more information visit Demand Dignity section.
Sign the Petition to support the Optional Protocol: http://www.protectallhumanrights.org/