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Governments sign up to defend economic, social and cultural rights

Twenty states began signing an international agreement to address violations of economic, social and cultural rights at the United Nations in New York on Thursday. For the first time, the Optional Protocol on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights establishes a mechanism to access justice at an international level for people whose rights are violated. Many people around the world, particularly those living in poverty and discriminated against, suffer violations of their rights and are denied justice at the national level. The Optional Protocol will enable them to seek justice at the international level and will also support efforts within countries to ensure that effective remedies are available to victims. "Justice for people whose economic, social and cultural rights are violated, took a decisive step forward today," said Muthoni Wanyeki of the Kenyan Human Rights Commission. Muthoni Wanyeki – representing a coalition of over 300 NGOs, including Amnesty International, campaigning for the Optional Protocol – is taking part in the Treaty Event for Heads of State at UN Headquarters in New York. “The Coalition welcomes this significant beginning towards universal support for this historic mechanism. 33794 individuals and NGOs from 111 countries have signed a global petition calling on all States who are eligible to do so to become a party to the Optional Protocol through ratification.” The following States have signed the Optional Protocol: Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Ecuador, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Luxembourg, Mali, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Portugal, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Ukraine, and Uruguay.