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Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to hold forty-ninth session from 12 to 30 November

BACKGROUND RELEASE

8 November 2012

Experts to Review Reports of Tanzania, Ecuador, Mauritania, Bulgaria and Iceland

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 12 to 30 November to examine measures taken by Tanzania, Ecuador, Mauritania, Bulgaria and Iceland to comply with the standards of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The situation in Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of the Congo will be reviewed in the absence of reports.

Those seven countries are among the 160 States parties to the treaty, which entered into force in 1976 and which 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 adhering to the treaty, States agree to submit periodic reports to the Committee on how they give effect to the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee engages in a constructive dialogue with delegations from States parties, based on the reports submitted and other information available. The Committee finally makes observations and recommendations on improving the promotion and protection of the rights enshrined in the Covenant.

The session will be opened on Monday, 12 November with an address from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights or her representative. During that meeting the Committee will adopt its agenda, organize its work and discuss both substantive issues and miscellaneous matters. In the afternoon meeting, the Committee will hear information from non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions with respect to the reports that it will review during the session.

Three of the five countries presenting reports have come before the Committee before. Ecuador presented its second periodic report to the Committee in May 2004 and the Committee’s concluding observations on it can be found in (E/C.12/1/Add. 100). The Committee considered the third periodic report of Bulgaria in November 1999 and its concluding observations on it can be found in (E/C.12/1/Add.37). The Committee reviewed the third periodic report of Iceland in May 2003 and the concluding observations on it can be found in (E/C.12/1/Add.89). Tanzania and Mauritania are presenting their initial reports.

The main documents before the Committee in respect to these countries are accessible from the Committee’s web page for the current session, including the reports submitted by the States parties, lists of questions posed by the Committee in respect to those reports and replies from States; and supplementary information submitted by non-governmental organizations. At the end of the session, the concluding observations of the Committee on each State party will also be accessible on this site.

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. Articles 4 and 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. They also prevent 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.

The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is an international treaty establishing complaint and inquiry mechanisms for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 2008, and opened for signature on 24 September 2009. To date, the Optional Protocol has 41 signatories and has been ratified by Argentina, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mongolia, Slovakia and Spain. It will enter into force three months after being ratified by 10 States parties.

States Parties to the Covenant

The Covenant has been ratified or acceded to by 160 States: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, 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, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Committee is composed of the following 18 Experts: Aslan Khuseinovich Abashidze (Russian Federation); Mohamed Ezzeldin Adel-Moneim (Egypt); Clement Atangana (Cameroon); Rocio Barahona Riera (Costa Rica); Jun Cong (China); Chandrashekhar Dasgupta (India); Zdzislaw Kedzia (Poland); Azzouz Kerdoun (Algeria); Jaime Marchan Romero (Ecuador); Sergei Martynov (Belarus); Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay (Mauritius); Renato Zerbini Ribeiro Leao (Brazil); Eibe Riedel (Germany); Waleed Sadi (Jordan); Nikolaas Jan Schrijver (Netherlands); Heisoo Shin (Republic of Korea); Philippe Texier (France); and Alvaro Tirado Mejia (Colombia).

Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay is the Committee Chairperson; Mr. Abashidze, Mr. Schrijver and Mr. Tirado Mejia are the Vice-Chairpersons; and Waleed Sadi is the Rapporteur.



Programme of Work

Monday, 12 November

10 a.m. Opening of session, adoption of agenda, submission of reports, organization of work, and substantive issues

3 p.m. Meeting with non-governmental organizations

Tuesday, 13 November

10 a.m. Initial to third periodic report of Tanzania

3 p.m. Tanzania (continued)

Wednesday, 14 November

10 a.m. Tanzania (continued)

3 p.m. Third periodic report of Ecuador

Thursday, 15 November

10 a.m. Ecuador (continued)

3 p.m. Initial report of Mauritania

Friday, 16 November

10 a.m. Mauritania (continued)

3 p.m. Mauritania (continued)

Monday, 19 November

10 a.m. (closed)

3 p.m. Meeting with non-governmental organizations

Tuesday, 20 November

10 a.m. Fourth and fifth periodic report of Bulgaria

3 p.m. Bulgaria (continued)

Wednesday, 21 November

10 a.m. Fourth periodic report of Iceland

3 p.m. Iceland (continued)

Thursday, 22 November

10 a.m. Examination of situation in Equatorial Guinea in the absence of a report

3 p.m. Equatorial Guinea (continued)

Friday, 23 November

10 a.m. Examination of situation in the Republic of the Congo in the absence of a report

3 p.m. Republic of the Congo (continued)

Friday, 30 November

10 a.m. (closed)

3 p.m. Public closing of the session.

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For use of the information media; not an official record