Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to hold forty-seventh session from 14 November to 2 December in Geneva

Committee on Economic, Social  
  and Cultural Rights

14 November 2011

Experts to Review Reports of Estonia, Israel, Turkmenistan, Cameroon and Argentina

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 14 November to 2 December to examine measures taken by Estonia, Israel, Turkmenistan, Cameroon and Argentina to comply with the standards of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 

Those five 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 evaluates the reports and makes observations and recommendations on improving the promotion and protection of the rights enshrined in the Covenant.

At the opening of the session, the Committee will hear a presentation by a representative of the Secretary-General.  It will then adopt its agenda and programme of work and discuss its organization of work.   

In the afternoon, the Committee will discuss relations with United Nations organs and other treaty bodies, and substantive issues arising from the implementation of the Covenant.  It will also hear information from non governmental organizations with respect to the reports that it will review during the current session.

During the session, the Committee will also hold private meetings in which it will discuss substantive issues arising in the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and adopt concluding observations on the country reports it reviews during the session. 

Four of the five countries to be examined at this session have come before the Committee before.  Argentina presented its second periodic report to the Committee on 17, 18 and 19 November 1999, and the Committee’s concluding observations on it can be found in document E/C.12/1/Add.38.  The Committee considered the initial report of Cameroon on 23 and 24 November 1999, and concluding observations on it are contained in document E/C.12/1/Add.40.  The initial report of Estonia was reviewed by the Committee on 19 and 20 November 2002, and the Committee’s concluding observations on it are contained in E/C/12/1/Add.85.  The Committee reviewed the second periodic report of Israel on 15 and 16 May 2003 and provided its concluding observations in document E/C.12/1/Add.90.  Turkmenistan is presenting its initial report to the Committee during this session. 

Previous concluding observations of the Committee can be accessed on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Website document search page.  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, previous concluding observations issued by the Committee on State reports, 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 in advanced unedited form from 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.  Article 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.  It also prevents 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 39 signatories and has been ratified by Argentina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mongolia and Spain.  It will enter into force when 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 Abdel-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); Nicolaas Jan Schrijver (Netherlands); Heisoo Shin (Republic of Korea); Philippe Texier (France); and Alvaro Tirado Mejia (Colombia).  

Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay is the Committee Chairperson; Zdzislaw Kedzia, Nikolaas Jan Schrijver and Alvaro Tirado Mejia are the Vice-Chairpersons; and Waleed Sadi is the Rapporteur.    

Provisional Timetable for Consideration of Reports

Monday, 14 November

Morning:          47th Session Opens; Adoption of Agenda; Submission of Reports; Organization of Work       
Afternoon:       Meetings with partners: United Nations and non-governmental organizations; Substantive Issues   

Tuesday, 15 November

Morning:          Estonia: second report (E/C.12/EST/2)
Afternoon:       Estonia: continued

Wednesday, 16 November

Morning:          Estonia: continued
Afternoon:       Israel: third periodic report (E/C.12/ISR/3)

Thursday, 17 November

Morning:          Israel: continued
Afternoon:       Israel: continued

Friday, 18 November

Morning:          Turkmenistan: initial report (E/C.12/TKM/1)
Afternoon:       Turkmenistan: continued

Monday, 21 November

Morning:          Turkmenistan: continued 
Afternoon:       Cameroon: combined second and third periodic report (E/C.12/CMR/2-3)

Tuesday, 22 November

Morning:          Cameroon: continued
Afternoon:       Cameroon: continued

Wednesday, 23 November

Morning:          Argentina: third periodic report (E/C.12/ARG/3)
Afternoon:       Argentina: continued

Thursday, 24 November

Morning:          Argentina: continued
Afternoon:       Closed Meeting 

Friday, 2 December

Morning:          Closed Meeting
Afternoon:       Close of Session (public)

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For use of information media; not an official record