The UN Human Rights System and ESC rights

To hold states to account for their legal human rights obligations, you can engage with the UN human rights system.  Meet here the Committee on ESC rights and its General Comments, as well as UN Special Rapporteurs devoted to ESC rights and the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council.

HREA Guide to the UN Human Rights System:  HREA has produced a useful guide for understanding how the UN human rights system works. 

OHCHR Guide to UN human rights institutions:  OHCHR provides a portal to all the key human rights institutions, including the Charter-based bodies, such as the Human Rights Council and the Special Rapporteurs, as well as the Treaty-based bodies that monitor implementation of the various human rights treaties. 

Urban Justice Center's Human Rights Project: Toolkit for advocates that are interested in learning about and participating in the UPR process, and that advocates will use the UPR to advance a domestic human rights agenda.

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

This Committee is one of the most important bodies for monitoring the implementation of ESC rights. It issues authoritative interpretations of  economic, social and cultural rights and reviews the rights records of countries. Upcoming sessions and which countries will be examined  by the Committee can be found here.

The Committee has issued the following general comments:

No.

Subject

Date

Languages
The right to social security
A | C | E | F | R | S
The Right to work (art. 6) - Final edited version
A | C | E | F | R | S

The right of everyone to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author (art. 15 (1) (c)) - Final edited version

A | C | E | F | R | S

The equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights (art.3)

A | C | E | F | R | S

Corr.1 F (only)

15

The right to water (arts. 11 and 12)

2002

E | F | R | S

14

The right to the highest attainable standard of health (art. 12)

2000

A | C | E | F | R | S

13

The right to education (art. 13)

1999

A | C | E | F | R | S

12

The right to adequate food (art. 11)

1999

A | C | E | F | R | S

11

Plans of action for primary education (art. 14)

1999

A | C | E | F | R | S

10

The role of national human rights insitutions in the protection of economic, social and cultural rights

1998

A | C | E | F | R | S

9

The domestic application of the Covenant

1998

A | C | E | F | R | S

8

The relationship between economic sanctions and respect for economic, social and cultural rights

1997

A | C | E | F | R | S

7

The right to adequate housing: forced evictions (art.11 (1))

1997

6

The economic, social and cultural rights of older persons

1995

5

Persons with disabilities

1994

4

The right to adequate housing

1991

3

The nature of States parties' obligations (art.2 (1))

1990

2

International technical assistance measures (art. 22)

1990

1

Reporting by States parties

1989

The UN Special Rapporteurs on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The UN Special Rapporteurs are independent experts who report to the UN Human Rights Council on the implementation of ESC rights.  The key Special Rapporteurs working on ESC rights include: 

Title / Mandate

Mandate established

Mandate extended

Name & country of origin
of the mandate-holder(s)

in

by

in

by

Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context

2000

Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/9

2007

Human Rights Council resolution 6/27 (for 3 years)

Ms. Raquel ROLNIK (Brazil)

Special Rapporteur on the right to education

1998

Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/33

2008

Human Rights Council resolution 8/4
(for 3 years)

Mr. Vernor MUÑOZ VILLALOBOS (Costa Rica)

Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty

1998

Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/25

2008

Human Rights Council resolution 8/11 (for 3 years)

Ms. Maria Magdalena SEPÚLVEDA CARMONA (Chile)

Special Rapporteur on the right to food

2000

Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/10

2007

Human Rights Council resolution 6/2
(for 3 years)

Mr. Olivier de SCHUTTER (Belgium)

Independent expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights

2000

Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/82

2008

Human Rights Council resolution 7/4
(for 3 years)

Mr. Cephas LUMINA (Zambia)

Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

2002

Commission on Human Rights resolution 2002/31
(for 3 years)

2007

Human Rights Council resolution 6/29
(for 3 years)

Mr. Anand GROVER (India)

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

2000

Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/61

2008

Human Rights Council resolution 7/8
(for 3 years)

Ms. Margaret SEKAGGYA (Uganda)

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people

2001

Commission on Human Rights resolution 2001/57

2007

Human Rights Council resolution 6/12
(for 3 years)

Mr. James ANAYA (United States of America)

Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons

2004

Commission on Human Rights resolution
2004/55
(for 2 years)

2007

Human Rights Council resolution 6/32
(for 3 years)

Mr. Walter KÄLIN (Switzerland)

Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants

1999

Commission on Human Rights resolution 1999/44

2008

Human Rights Council resolution 8/10
(for 3 years)

Mr. Jorge A. BUSTAMANTE (Mexico)

Independent Expert on minority issues

2005

Commission on Human Rights resolution
2005/79

2008

Human Rights Council resolution 7/6
(for 3 years)

Ms. Gay MCDOUGALL
(United States of America)

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

1993

Commission on Human Rights resolution 1993/20

2008

Human Rights Council resolution 7/34
(for 3 years)

Mr. Githu MUIGAI (Kenya)

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences

2007

Human Rights Council resolution 6/14



Ms. Gulnara SHAHINIAN (Armenia)

Special Representative of the SG on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises

2005

Commission on Human Rights resolution 2005/69
(for 2 years)

2008

Human Rights Council resolution 8/7 (for 3 years)

Mr. John RUGGIE (United States of America)

Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation

2008

Human Rights Council resolution 7/22



Ms. Catarina de ALBUQUERQUE (Portugal)

Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences

1994

Commission on Human Rights resolution 1994/45

2008

Human Rights Council resolution 7/24
(for 3 years)

Ms. Yakin ERTÜRK (Turkey