UN adopts key economic, social and cultural rights instrument

The international community has taken a step towards strengthening human rights protection, particularly for the world’s most marginalised people, with the adoption of a key United Nations instrument.

Amnesty International has welcomed the adoption by consensus of the ‘Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly.

The Optional Protocol will enable those who suffer violations to their rights to education, adequate housing and health and other economic, social and cultural rights to access justice at the international level, where it is denied in their countries.

Fifty-two member states from all regions have so far co-sponsored the resolution, adopting the Optional Protocol. Amnesty International has continued to call on states which have not yet co-sponsored the resolution to do so before its final adoption by the General Assembly in plenary session on 10 December

The adoption of the Optional Protocol will be a fitting way to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 15 th anniversary of the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights. 

The international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis. Broad-based global support for the Optional Protocol at the General Assembly will be an unequivocal step to give effect to the agreement of all states in Vienna that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated.

After the adoption by the General Assembly plenary, the Optional Protocol will then be opened for ratification.