Press Releases

    Background release

    HR/4585
    26 April 2002

    COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS TO HOLD TWENTY-EIGHTH SESSION FROM 29 APRIL TO 17 MAY

    Committee Scheduled to Consider Efforts of Czech Republic, Ireland,
    Benin, United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago

    (Reissued as received.)

    GENEVA, 25 April (UN Information Service) -- The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 29 April to 17 May 2002 to examine the measures taken by the Czech Republic, Ireland, Benin, the United Kingdom, and Trinidad and Tobago to realize these rights.

    The five countries are among the 145 States parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The treaty, which entered into force in 1976, recognizes, among other things, the rights to work, to form and join trade unions, to social security, to the widest possible protection and assistance for the family, to an adequate standard of living, to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to an education.

    In acceding to the treaty, States agree to submit periodic reports to the Committee on how they give effect to the provisions of the Covenant. The panel, now in its twenty-eighth session, evaluates the reports and makes observations and recommendations on improving the promotion and protection of the rights enshrined in the Covenant.

    In the case of long overdue reports, the Committee may review the implementation of the treaty in a given country based on available information.

    At the opening of the session, the Committee will adopt its agenda. It will then discuss other substantive issues arising in the implementation of the Covenant, an exercise during which it is scheduled to hear from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

    On Monday, 13 May, the Committee will hold a day of general discussion on article 3 of the Covenant on the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the Covenant. On Friday, 10 May, it will hold a joint meeting with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on follow-up to the Committee's day of general discussion on the right to education and follow-up to the World Education Forum held in Dakar in April 2000. Also on 10 May, the Committee will have its meeting with States parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to discuss its methods of work. It will further discuss follow-up to the World Conference against Racism.

    The Committee will also consider reports from specialized agencies of the United Nations system on the progress made in States parties in achieving the observance of the provisions of the Covenant falling within the scope of their activities. The following specialized agencies, United Nations organs and financial institutions have been invited to send representatives: International Labour Organization (ILO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    Committee's Concluding Observations and Recommendations on Last Reports submitted by Ireland, United Kingdom, and Trinidad and Tobago.

    When the Committee examined the initial report of Ireland in May 1999, it, among other things, welcomed the pro-active approach of the State party to the problem of reducing unemployment, which had led to a considerable drop in the unemployment rate from 11 to six per cent. The Committee recommended that the State party expand the scope of its National Anti-Poverty Strategy, including the poverty-proofing of policy proposals, and that it integrate a human rights approach into the Strategy. It also recommended that the State party adequately supervise the quality of education received by students at the primary school level of the formal educational system in order that the educational system be in conformity with articles 13 and 14 of the Covenant.

    After the Committee reviewed the third periodic report of the United Kingdom in November 1997, the Committee noted the extensive and elaborate administrative infrastructure that existed in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to facilitate giving effect to the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee recommended, among others, that the State party carefully target social assistance to alleviate poverty among the segments of the population in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland who were suffering from long-term unemployment, those whose overall revenue was low (particularly in relationship to family size), and those who were unable to work. It also recommended that the right to strike be established in legislation and that strike action no longer entail the loss of employment.

    And when the Committee considered the initial report of Trinidad and Tobago in February 1989, the Chairman welcomed the honesty shown by the delegation of Trinidad and Tobago and its promise to provide further information. He also welcomed the fact that the representative of Trinidad and Tobago had stated that the Government would take account of the comments made on its report's shortcomings in drafting its subsequent report for the Committee. Other experts said that national criteria should be established in Trinidad and Tobago to determine the poverty line so that underprivileged groups could be more clearly identified. It was also pointed out that some rights, like the freedom of association and the right to strike, did not depend on the country's economic and social development but on the political will of the Government.

    Provisional Timetable for Consideration of Reports

    Tuesday, 30 April 2002
    Morning -- Czech Republic, initial report (E/1990/5/Add.47)
    Afternoon -- Czech Republic (continued)

    Wednesday, 1 May 2002
    Morning -- Czech Republic (continued)
    Afternoon -- Ireland, second periodic report (E/1990/6/Add.29)

    Thursday, 2 May 2002
    Morning -- Ireland (continued)
    Afternoon -- Benin, initial report (E/1990/5/Add.48)

    Friday, 3 May 2002
    Morning -- Benin (continued)
    Afternoon -- Benin (continued)

    Monday, 6 May 2002
    Morning -- United Kingdom, fourth periodic report (E/C.12/4/Add.5, 7, 8)
    Afternoon -- United Kingdom (continued)

    Tuesday, 7 May 2002
    Morning -- United Kingdom (continued)
    Afternoon -- United Kingdom (continued)

    Wednesday, 8 May 2002
    Morning -- Trinidad and Tobago, second periodic report (E/1990/6/Add.30)
    Afternoon -- Trinidad and Tobago (continued)

    Friday, 10 May 2002
    Morning -- Meeting with States parties
    Afternoon -- Meeting with UNESCO

    Monday, 13 May 2002
    Morning -- Day of general discussion on article 3 of the Covenant on the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the Covenant
    Afternoon -- Day of general discussion on article 3 of the Covenant (continued)

    International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

    The General Assembly adopted and opened the Covenant for signature, ratification and accession in 1966. It entered into force on 3 January 1976.

    Article 1 of the Covenant states that the right to self-determination is universal and calls upon States to promote the realization and respect of that right. Article 3 reaffirms the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all human rights and enjoins States to make that principle a reality. Article 5 provides safeguards against the destruction or undue limitation of any human right or fundamental freedom, and against misinterpretation of any provision of the Covenant as a means of justifying infringement of a right or freedom or its restriction to a greater extent than provided in the Covenant. It also prevents States from limiting rights already enjoyed within their territories on the ground that such rights are not recognized, or recognized to a lesser extent, in the Covenant.

    Articles 6 to 15 recognize the right to work; to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work; to form and join trade unions; to social security, including social insurance; to the widest possible protection and assistance for the family, mothers, children and younger persons; to an adequate standard of living; to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; to an education and to take part in cultural life.

    Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

    The Economic and Social Council established the Committee in 1985. Elected by the Economic and Social Council by secret ballot from a list of persons nominated by State parties to the Covenant, its 18 members are human-rights experts serving in their personal capacity.

    The Committee is composed of the following Experts: Mahmoud Samir Ahmed (Egypt), Clement Atangana (Cameroon), Rocio Barahona Riera (Costa Rica), Virginia Bonoan-Dandan (Philippines), Dumitru Ceausu (Romania), Abdessatar Grissa (Tunisia), Paul Hunt (New Zealand), Valeri I. Kouznetsov (Russian Federation), Giorgio Malinverni (Switzerland), Jaime Marchán Romero (Ecuador), Sergei Martynov (Belarus), Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay (Mauritius), Kenneth Osborne Rattray (Jamaica), Eibe Riedel (Germany), Walid M. Sa'di (Jordan), Philippe Texier (France), Nutan Thapalia (Nepal), and Javier Wimer Zambrano (Mexico).

    States Parties to Covenant

    The Covenant has been ratified or acceded to by 145 States: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    * *** *