dcsimg
English Site French Site Spanish Site Russian Site Arabic Site Chinese Site OHCHR header
Make a donation to OHCHR


International Standards

Eliminating poverty and promoting human rights are inter-related objectives voiced by many international treaties and commitments. The persistence of extreme poverty and the recurrence of violations of civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights are mutually reinforcing. Consequently, a wide range of human rights standards are relevant for the mandate of the Independent Expert. See below a non-exhaustive list of some key standards and commitments:

Articles 1 and 55 of the Charter of the United Nations (1945)

Art. 1: 3) To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion;

Art. 55: With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the United Nations shall promote: a. higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; b. solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems; and international cultural and educational cooperation; and c. universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

Articles 22 and 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948)

Art. 22: Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Art. 25: 1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. 2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

International Human Rights Treaties

Articles 9, 11, 12 and 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)

Art. 9: The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance.

Art. 11: 1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent. 2) The States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually and through international co-operation, the measures, including specific programmes, which are needed: (a) To improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources; (b) Taking into account the problems of both food-importing and food-exporting countries, to ensure an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need.

Art. 12: 1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. 2) The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for: (a) The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child; (b) The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene; (c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases; (d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.

Art. 13: 1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. 2) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, with a view to achieving the full realization of this right: (a) Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all; (b) Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education; (c) Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education; (d) Fundamental education shall be encouraged or intensified as far as possible for those persons who have not received or completed the whole period of their primary education; (e) The development of a system of schools at all levels shall be actively pursued, an adequate fellowship system shall be established, and the material conditions of teaching staff shall be continuously improved. 3) The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions. 4) No part of this article shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principles set forth in paragraph I of this article and to the requirement that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.

Article 6 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) 

Art. 6 (1): Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

Article 5 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ( 1965)

Art. 5: In compliance with the fundamental obligations laid down in article 2 of this Convention, States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights: (a) The right to equal treatment before the tribunals and all other organs administering justice; (b) The right to security of person and protection by the State against violence or bodily harm, whether inflicted by government officials or by any individual group or institution;(c) Political rights, in particular the right to participate in elections-to vote and to stand for election-on the basis of universal and equal suffrage, to take part in the Government as well as in the conduct of public affairs at any level and to have equal access to public service;

Articles 11, 12, 13 and 14 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979)

Art. 11 : 1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular: a) The right to work as an inalienable right of all human beings; b) The right to the same employment opportunities, including the application of the same criteria for selection in matters of employment; c) The right to free choice of profession and employment, the right to promotion, job security and all benefits and conditions of service and the right to receive vocational training and retraining, including apprenticeships, advanced vocational training and recurrent training; d) The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work; e) The right to social security, particularly in cases of retirement, unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age and other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid leave; f) The right to protection of health and to safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of the function of reproduction. 2. In order to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of marriage or maternity and to ensure their effective right to work, States Parties shall take appropriate measures; a) To prohibit, subject to the imposition of sanctions, dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy or of maternity leave and discrimination in dismissals on the basis of marital status; b) To introduce maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits without loss of former employment, seniority or social allowances; c) To encourage the provision of the necessary supporting social services to enable parents to combine family obligations with work responsibilities and participation in public life, in particular through promoting the establishment and development of a network of child care facilities; d) To provide special protection to women during pregnancy in types of work proved to be harmful to them. 3. Protective legislation relating to matters covered in this article shall be reviewed periodically in the light of scientific and technological knowledge and shall be revised, repealed or extended as necessary. Art. 12 : 1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning. 2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 of this article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation. Art. 13 : States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in other areas of economic and social life in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular: a) The right to family benefits; (b) The right to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit ; (c) The right to participate in recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life. Art. 14 : 1. States Parties shall take into account the particular problems faced by rural women and the significant roles which rural women play in the economic survival of their families, including their work in the non-monetized sectors of the economy, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the application of the provisions of the present Convention to women in rural areas. 2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right: a) To participate in the elaboration and implementation of development planning at all levels; b) To have access to adequate health care facilities, including information, counseling and services in family planning; c) To benefit directly from social security programs; d) To obtain all types of training and education, formal and non-formal, including that relating to functional literacy, as well as, inter alia, the benefit of all community and extension services, in order to increase their technical proficiency; e) To organize self-help groups and co-operatives in order to obtain equal access to economic opportunities through employment or self- employment; f) To participate in all community activities; g) To have access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes; h) To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.  

Articles 24 and 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)

Art. 24: 1) States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services. 2) States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures: (a) To diminish infant and child mortality; (b) To ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health care; (c) To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, the application of readily available technology and through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution; (d) To ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health care for mothers; (e) To ensure that all segments of society, in particular parents and children, are informed, have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breastfeeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents; (f) To develop preventive health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services. 3) States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children. 4) States Parties undertake to promote and encourage international co-operation with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the right recognized in the present article. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.

Art. 27: 1. States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. 2) The parent(s) or others responsible for the child have the primary responsibility to secure, within their abilities and financial capacities, the conditions of living necessary for the child's development. 3) States Parties, in accordance with national conditions and within their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support programmes, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing. 4) States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to secure the recovery of maintenance for the child from the parents or other persons having financial responsibility for the child, both within the State Party and from abroad. In particular, where the person having financial responsibility for the child lives in a State different from that of the child, States Parties shall promote the accession to international agreements or the conclusion of such agreements, as well as the making of other appropriate arrangements.

Articles 24 to 30 and 43 of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1990)

Art. 24: Every migrant worker and every member of his or her family shall have the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Art. 25: 1. Migrant workers shall enjoy treatment not less favourable than that which applies to nationals of the State of employment in respect of remuneration and: a) Other conditions of work, that is to say, overtime, hours of work, weekly rest, holidays with pay, safety, health, termination of the employment relationship and any other conditions of work which, according to national law and practice, are covered by these terms; b) Other terms of employment, that is to say, minimum age of employment, restriction on work and any other matters which, according to national law and practice, are considered a term of employment. 2. It shall not be lawful to derogate in private contracts of employment from the principle of equality of treatment referred to in paragraph 1 of the present article. 3. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that migrant workers are not deprived of any rights derived from this principle by reason of any irregularity in their stay or employment. In particular, employers shall not be relieved of any legal or contractual obligations, nor shall their obligations be limited in any manner by reason of such irregularity.

Art. 26: 1. States Parties recognize the right of migrant workers and members of their families: a) To take part in meetings and activities of trade unions and of any other associations established in accordance with law, with a view to protecting their economic, social, cultural and other interests, subject only to the rules of the organization concerned; b) To join freely any trade union and any such association as aforesaid, subject only to the rules of the organization concerned; c) To seek the aid and assistance of any trade union and of any such association as aforesaid. 2. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of these rights other than those that are prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public order (ordre public) or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Art. 27: 1. With respect to social security, migrant workers and members of their families shall enjoy in the State of employment the same treatment granted to nationals in so far as they fulfil the requirements provided for by the applicable legislation of that State and the applicable bilateral and multilateral treaties. The competent authorities of the State of origin and the State of employment can at any time establish the necessary arrangements to determine the modalities of application of this norm. 2. Where the applicable legislation does not allow migrant workers and members of their families a benefit, the States concerned shall examine the possibility of reimbursing interested persons the amount of contributions made by them with respect to that benefit on the basis of the treatment granted to nationals who are in similar circumstances.

Art. 28: Migrant workers and members of their families shall have the right to receive any medical care that is urgently required for the preservation of their life or the avoidance of irreparable harm to their health on the basis of equality of treatment with nationals of the State concerned. Such emergency medical care shall not be refused them by reason of any irregularity with regard to stay or employment.

Art. 29: Each child of a migrant worker shall have the right to a name, to registration of birth and to a nationality.

Art. 30: Each child of a migrant worker shall have the basic right of access to education on the basis of equality of treatment with nationals of the State concerned. Access to public pre-school educational institutions or schools shall not be refused or limited by reason of the irregular situation with respect to stay or employment of either parent or by reason of the irregularity of the child's stay in the State of employment.  

Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2002)

Article 28: Adequate standard of living and social protection: 1. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right without discrimination on the basis of disability. 2. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to social protection and to the enjoyment of that right without discrimination on the basis of disability, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right, including measures: a) To ensure equal access by persons with disabilities to clean water services, and to ensure access to appropriate and affordable services, devices and other assistance for disability-related needs; b) To ensure access by persons with disabilities, in particular women and girls with disabilities and older persons with disabilities, to social protection programmes and poverty reduction programmes; c) To ensure access by persons with disabilities and their families living in situations of poverty to assistance from the State with disability-related expenses, including adequate training, counselling, financial assistance and respite care; d) To ensure access by persons with disabilities to public housing programmes; e) To ensure equal access by persons with disabilities to retirement benefits and programmes.

Other relevant International Treaties

Articles 20 to 24 of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951)

Article 54 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (1977)

Article 14 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (1977)  

Regional Instruments

Articles 2, 4, 5 and 15-18, 22, 24 and 25 of the African [ Banjul ] Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (1981)

Articles 3, 4, 5, 11 - 15 and 23 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1999)  

Articles 2 - 4, 12 - 16, 18 - 19 and 22 - 24 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2005)

Articles 3, 4, 5 and 12, 15, 16 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1995)  

Articles 4, 11 to 17 and 19 of the European Social Charter (1961)

Articles 4, 11 - 17 and 19, 23, 30, 31 European Social Charter (revised) (1961)

Article 4 of the Additional Protocol to the European Social Charter (1988)  

Article 26 of the American Convention on Human Rights (1969)  

Article 6, 7, 9 - 13 and 17-18 of the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, "Protocol of San Salvador " (1988)

International Labour Organisations (ILO) Conventions

International Labour Organisation Convention, Sickness Insurance (Industry) Convention C24 (1927)  

International Labour Organisation Convention, Sickness Insurance (Agriculture) Convention C25 (1927)  

International Labour Organisation Convention, Invalidity Insurance (Industry, etc.) Convention C37 (1933)

International Labour Organisation Convention, Invalidity Insurance (Agriculture) Convention C38 (1933)

International Labour Organisation Convention, Survivors' Insurance (Industry, etc.) Convention C39 (1933)  

International Labour Organisation Convention, Survivors' Insurance (Agriculture) Convention C40 (1933)

International Labour Organisation Convention, Workmen's Compensation (Occupational Diseases) Convention (Revised), C42 (1934)

International Labour Organisation Convention, Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention C102 (1952)

International Labour Organisation Convention, Employment Injury Benefits Convention C121 (1964)

International Labour Organisation Convention, Invalidity, Old-Age and Survivors' Benefits Convention C128 (1967)  

International Labour Organisation Convention, Medical Care and Sickness Benefits Convention C130 (1969)

International Labour Organisation Convention, Maintenance of Social Security Rights Convention C157 (1982)

Soft Law Documents

Articles 6, 8 to 25 of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners Adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (1955)

Article 3 of the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons (1971)

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition (1973)

Articles 4 to 6 of the Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children  in Emergency and Armed Conflict (1974)  

Articles 2 to 7 of the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975)  

Articles 1 to 7 of the Declaration of Alma-Ata (1978)  

Articles 2, 8 and 10 of the Declaration on the Right to Development (1986)

Principle 1, 3 and 5 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (1988)  

Annex 1, 5 and 14 of the United Nations Principles for Older Persons (1991)

Chapter 3 and 7 of Agenda 21, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development (1992)  

Conferences

Articles 1, 5, 14, 25, 30, 31 and 47 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (1993)  

Articles 16 to 22 and 41 to 44 of the Platform of Action of the Fourth Conference on Women (1995)  

Articles 36 and 116 of the Habitat Agenda Goals and Principles, Commitments and the Global Plan of Action (1996)  

Rome Declaration on World Food Security (1996)

Articles 1, 2 and 11 of the United Nations Millennium Declaration (2000)

Chapter I of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development (A/CONF.166/9)

Sub commission resolutions

Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights resolution 2006/9 of 24 August 2006 (PDF)