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Toolkit for Action for the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - available in 4 languages

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Developed by the International NGO Coalition for an Optional Protocol, the Toolkit for Action for the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provides practical guidance to NGOs and other civil society groups, as well as States on their work around the Optional Protocol. The Toolkit aims to facilitate international and national advocacy work for the ratification and the entry into force of the Protocol and the national implementation of economic, social and cultural rights.  

 

The Toolkit includes four Booklets:
Click pictures to open Booklets

Booklet 1: Refreshing Your Knowledge about the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

This Booklet explains:

The content of the Covenant that the Optional Protocol seeks to enforce.

States' obligations under the Covenant, the role of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the body of experts in charge of implementing the Optional Protocol and the challenges related to the implementation and enforcement of ESCR.

Contents of Booklet 1

Booklet 2: Overview: The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

This Booklet describes:

  • The procedures and mechanisms introduced by the Optional Protocol.
  • The adoption and ratification process of the Optional Protocol.
  • The competence of the Committee to receive and consider complaints against States Parties.

Contents of Booklet 2

Booklet 3: Why Should States Ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights?

This Booklet:

  • Outlines some of the key incentives for States to ratify and implement the Optional Protocol.
  • Challenges the myths contesting the justiciability of ESCR. 
  • Offers tools to advocate for ratification and domestic implementation of the Optional Protocol.

Contents of Booklet 3

Booklet 4: Tools to Lobby Your Country and Advocate for the Ratification and Implementation of the Optional Protocol.

  • This final Booklet provides information, resources and templates to assist civil society groups in their lobbying efforts for the ratification and implementation of the Optional Protocol.

Contents of Booklet 4

Why the Optional Protocol?

Millions of people around the world suffer violations on their economic, social and cultural rights, including abuses of the rights to adequate housing, food, water, sanitation, health, work and education.  Many of them find no mechanisms within their countries to address these violations and up to now there was no procedure at the International level to claim violations of these rights.  However, once in force, the Optional Protocol will enable victims of violations of the rights protected in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, who are unable to find remedies within their own countries, to seek justice within the United Nations.

The Optional Protocol will also help to improve or enhance existing national complaints mechanisms for victims of violations on ESCR, and motivate States to comply more fully with the obligations imposed by the Covenant.

The Protocol includes three procedures:  

  1. Communications procedures of individuals or groups of individuals claiming violations of the rights of the Covenant
  2. Inquiry procedures when the Committee (the body in charge of analyzing cases under the Protocol) has received reliable information of grave or systematic violations by a State Party of rights of the Protocol; and
  3. Inter-State communications when a State Party considers that another State Party is not fulfilling its obligations under the treaty.

Through the ratification of human rights treaties, States become accountable to the international community, and declare that they may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.

About the Campaign:

The International NGO Coalition for the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights brings together hundreds of individuals and organizations from around the world who share the common goal of promoting the ratification and implementation of the Optional Protocol. The NGO Coalition led civil society efforts towards the adoption of the Optional Protocol and now focuses on the ratification and implementation of this Treaty. Through the Campaign for the ratification and implementation of the OP-ICESCR, Justice NOW! Ratify to Protect all Human Rights, the NGO Coalition seeks to:

  • Secure the entry into force of the Protocol with a large and regionally diverse number of ratifications/accessions.
  • Ensure the effective functioning of the Optional Protocol by: advocating for the adoption of effective rules of procedure, encouraging the election of committee members with a strong ESCR background, supporting the harmonization of national-level systems with the Protocol and working with the Committee of ESCR and national -level authorities to build awareness and ensure progressive implementation of the treaty.
  • Provide legislation support to ensure appropriate cases reach the Committee to set a positive precedent.
  • Increase awareness of the Optional Protocol and strengthen the capacity of organizations to use this instrument as an important tool to advance ESCR work at the national level.
  • Expand and strengthen the network of organizations working on the Protocol and ESCR-related issues.
  • Facilitate the involvement of national-level organizations on the presentation of strategic cases before the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the implementation of decisions.

We welcome your input and feedback and hope to have the opportunity of working with many of you in support of this important mechanism to bring justice to victims of ESCR violations. You can contact us at op-coalition@escr-net.org

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