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Sixty-first session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to take place in Geneva from 29 May to 23 June


Reports of Australia, Uruguay, Netherlands, Liechtenstein, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan to be considered by the Committee

GENEVA (24 May 2017) - The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 29 May to 23 June 2017 to examine measures taken by Australia, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Liechtenstein, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan to comply with their obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

At the opening of the session, on Monday, 29 May, the Committee will hear an address from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights or his representative. The Committee will adopt its agenda and discuss organizational matters and its methods of work, and will also hold a meeting with non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions from countries whose reports will be reviewed during the first week of the session.

Australia is presenting its fifth periodic report (E/C.12/AUS/5); the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on its fourth periodic report, discussed in May 2009, are available here: E/C.12/AUS/CO/4.

Uruguay is presenting its fifth periodic report (E/C.12/URY/5). The concluding observations on Uruguay’s combined third and fourth periodic report, considered in November 2010, can be found here: E/C.12/URY/CO/3-4.

The Netherlands is presenting its sixth periodic report (E/C.12/NLD/6), while the Committee’s concluding observations on its combined fourth and fifth periodic report, discussed in November 2010, are available in this document: E/C.12/NLD/CO/4-5.

Liechtenstein is presenting its combined second and third periodic report (E/C.12/LIE/2-3), and the concluding observations on its initial report, which the Committee considered in May 2006, can be read here: E/C.12/LIE/CO/1.

Sri Lanka is presenting its fifth periodic report (E/C.12/LKA/5). Its combined second to fourth periodic report was presented in November 2010, and the Committee’s concluding observations can be accessed here: E/C.12/LKA/CO/2-4.

Pakistan is presenting its initial report under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/C.12/PAK/1).

Further information about the session, including the country reports and other documents before the Committee are available on the session’s webpage.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by the General Assembly in 1966. It entered into force on 3 January 1976.

The right to self-determination is universal, affirms Article 1 of the Covenant, also calling upon States to respect and to promote the realization of this right. Article 2 states that States parties should undertake to guarantee that the rights enunciated in the Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Article 3 reaffirms the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all human rights and asks States to make that principle a reality. Articles 4 and 5 provide 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 grounds 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.

States Parties to the Covenant

The Covenant has been ratified or acceded to by 165 States: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, 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, Haiti, 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, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, State of Palestine, 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.

Optional Protocol

The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is an international treaty establishing complaint and inquiry mechanisms. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 2008, and opened for signature on 24 September 2009. It provides the Committee competence to receive and consider communications from individuals claiming that their rights under the Covenant have been violated. The Committee may also, under certain circumstances, undertake inquiries on grave or systematic violations of any of the economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the Covenant, and consider inter-state complaints.

The Optional Protocol entered into force on 5 May 2013 and has been ratified or acceded to by 22 States: Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Gabon, Italy, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Montenegro, Niger, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Spain and Uruguay.

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Committee is composed of 18 independent experts who are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights, who serve in their personal capacity.

Members of the Committee are: Aslan Abashidze (Russia), Mohamed Ezzeldin Adel-Moneim (Egypt), Clement Antangana (Cameroon), Shiqiu Chen (China), Laura-Maria Craciunean (Romania), Chandrashekhar Dasgupta (India), Olivier de Schutter (Belgium), Azzouz Kerdoun (Algeria), Zdzislaw Kedzia (Poland), Sandra Liebenberg (South Africa), Mikel Mancisidor de la Fuente (Spain), Lydia Carmelita Ravenberg (Suriname), Waleed Sadi (Jordan), Heisoo Shin (Republic of Korea), Michael Windfuhr (Germany), Rodrigo Uprimny (Colombia), and Renato Zerbini Ribeiro Leão (Brazil).

Maria Virginia Bras Gomes is the Committee Chairperson, Mohamed Ezzeldin Adel-Moneim, Zdzislaw Kedzia and Heisoo Shin are Vice-chairpersons, and Lydia Carmelita Ravenberg is the Rapporteur.

Programme of Work

Monday, 29 May
10 a.m. Opening of the session, adoption of the agenda
3 p.m. Meeting with civil society partners
Tuesday, 30 May
10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Report of Australia E/C.12/AUS/5
Wednesday, 31 May
10 a.m. Australia (continued)
3 p.m. Report of Uruguay E/C.12/URY/5
Thursday, 1 June
10 a.m. Uruguay (continued)
3 p.m. Report of the Netherlands E/C.12/NLD/6
Friday, 2 June
10 a.m. The Netherlands (continued)
3 p.m. Closed meeting
Monday, 5 June
United Nations Holiday
Tuesday, 6 June
10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Meeting with civil society partners
Wednesday, 7 June
10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Report of Liechtenstein E/C.12/LIE/2-3
Thursday, 8 June
10 a.m. Liechtenstein (continued)
3 p.m. Report of Sri Lanka (E/C.12/LKA/5)
Friday, 9 June
10 a.m. Sri Lanka (continued)
3 p.m. Closed meeting
Monday, 12 June
10 a.m. Meeting with civil society partners
3 p.m. Report of Pakistan E/C.12/PAK/1
Tuesday, 13 June
10 a.m. Pakistan (continued)
3 p.m. Pakistan (continued)
Wednesday, 14 June
Closed meetings
Thursday, 15 June
Closed meetings
Friday, 16 June
Closed meetings
Monday, 19 June
Closed meetings
Tuesday, 20 June
Closed meetings
Wednesday, 21 June
Closed meetings
Thursday, 22 June
Closed meetings
Friday, 23 June
10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Closed meeting and public closing of the session


For use of the information media; not an official record