Introduction to the Committee
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties.
The Committee was established under ECOSOC Resolution 1985/17 of 28 May 1985 to carry out the monitoring functions assigned to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Part IV of the Covenant.
All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how economic, social and cultural rights are being implemented. States must report initially within two years of accepting the Covenant and thereafter every five years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.
In addition to the reporting procedure, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which entered into force on 5th May 2013, gives 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 Committee also publishes its authoritative guidance on the provisions of the Covenant, known as general comments.
The Committee meets in Geneva and normally holds two sessions per year, consisting of a three-week plenary and a one-week pre-sessional working group.
The work of the Committee
The Committee monitors the implementation of the Covenant and of the Optional Protocol by State parties so that all those who are entitled to the rights in the Covenant can enjoy them in full.
It seeks to:
- develop a constructive dialogue with State parties
- determine whether the Covenant’s norms are being applied in State parties
- assess how the implementation and enforcement of the Covenant could be improved.
Drawing on the legal and practical expertise of its members, the Committee can also help States in fulfilling their obligations under the Covenant by issuing specific legislative, policy and other recommendations so that economic, social and cultural rights are better protected.
For more information about the work of the Committee, read the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Fact sheet.