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Justice for victims of economic, social and cultural rights violations

Uruguay has become the tenth country to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, setting the stage for victims to seek justice for violation of their economic, social and cultural rights.

The Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the United Nations, Jose Luis Cancela, deposited the instrument of ratification at the United Nations in New York on 5 February 2013.

Adopted by the General Assembly on 10 December 2008, the protocol empowers the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to examine complaints from individuals or groups claiming violation of their economic, social and cultural rights. The protocol also enables the committee to conduct inquiries if it receives reliable information indicating grave or systematic violations by a State party of any of the economic, social and cultural rights protected by the covenant.

“For far too long, economic, social and cultural rights were not given the same attention and status in law, lagging behind on means for promotion and protection, as well as resources, when compared to civil and political rights.  This historic gap in the protection of economic, social and cultural rights was finally addressed with the adoption of the Optional Protocol,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović, at the ceremony that was also attended by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Stephen Mathias.

Šimonović said the entry into force of the protocol would allow for the development of jurisprudence that would clarify the scope of application of economic, social and cultural rights and offer further guidance to States parties and national courts to devise adequate remedies for victims. He encouraged countries that have not yet done so to ratify the protocol.

With Uruguay’s ratification, the protocol will enter into force on 5 May 2013. The other countries that have ratified the protocol are Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mongolia, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.

New York, 5 February 2013

See also