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Access to justice for all rights becomes a reality

The international community marked the 60th anniversary of the UDHR by adopting a historic instrument that secures access to justice for everyone whose economic, social and cultural rights are violated and who is denied a remedy at the national level. The UN General Assembly adopted, by consensus, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Wednesday and corrected historic imbalances. Amnesty International has been campaigning for this path-breaking instrument along with other members of the NGO Coalition for the last four years. Amnesty International believes that access to justice is an essential right of victims of all human rights violations. The elaboration and adoption of the Optional Protocol is the culmination of five years of negotiations and the final agreed text is the result of co-operation, consensus and concession by all. Amnesty International has commended the Chair of the Working Group and thanked the overwhelming majority of UN member states for their support for this instrument. Many people around the world suffer violations of their rights, including rights to adequate housing, food, water and sanitation, health, education and decent work, but are denied the ability and power to hold those responsible to account. People living in poverty and other marginalised groups in particular face difficulties accessing justice. Amnesty International has called on all states to ensure that this historic step towards the enforcement of economic, social and cultural rights is translated into reality for all those whose rights have been violated. Amnesty International is urging all states to become parties of the Optional Protocol when it opens for ratification in 2009 and to ensure that it comes into force as soon as possible. Amnesty International is a member of the NGO Coalition for an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.