Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights scrutinizes China regarding extra-territorial obligations
The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights welcomes the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ Concluding Observations on China, which include strong and detailed language on the issue of extra-territorial obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights successfully intervened with a Parallel Report laying out the extra-territorial obligations under the ICESCR and requesting that the Committee include scrutiny on those obligations within the periodic review of China. The Parallel Report relies in part on the Maastricht Principles on Extra-Territorial Obligations, which provide the clearest and most comprehensive reaffirmation of extra-territorial obligations under international human rights law. The Parallel Report was supplemented by a joint Parallel Report by the Global Initiative and the International Human Rights Clinic at Western New England University School of Law which provided factual examples of violations of China’s extra-territorial obligations.
In its Concluding Observations, the Committee called upon China to adopt a human rights-based approach to its policies of international cooperation, by:
“(a) Undertaking a systematic and independent human rights impact assessment prior to making funding decisions;
(b) Establishing an effective monitoring mechanism to regularly assess the human rights impact of its policies and projects in the receiving countries and to take remedial measures when required; and
(c) Ensuring that there is an accessible complaint mechanism if violations of economic, social and cultural rights occur in the receiving countries.”
The Committee also addressed the extra-territorial obligation to protect in the context of corporate accountability, expressing its concern “about the lack of adequate and effective measures adopted by the State party to ensure that Chinese companies both State-owned and private, respect economic, social and cultural rights, including when operating abroad” and recommending that China:
“(a) Establish a clear regulatory framework for companies operating in the State party to ensure that their activities promote and do not negatively affect the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural human rights; and
(b) Adopt appropriate legislative and administrative measures to ensure legal liability of companies and their subsidiaries operating in or managed from the State party’s territory regarding violations of economic, social and cultural rights in their projects abroad.”
According to Bret Thiele, Co-Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, “The Committee has made clear that the ICESCR includes extra-territorial obligations to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, including by regulating and otherwise holding corporations accountable to those obligations for their activities abroad and ensuring that any international cooperation and development cooperation includes systematic and independent human rights impact assessments prior to making funding decisions as well as the provision of an accessible complaint mechanism if violations of economic, social and cultural rights occur in the receiving countries.”
Thiele added that “the Concluding Observations not only touch upon the extra-territorial obligation to respect by directly refraining from human rights violations and the extra-territorial obligation to protect in the context of corporate activities abroad, but should be interpreted as also addressing the extra-territorial obligation to fulfill by ensuring that human rights impact assessments also focus on how best to further the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights through bilateral and multilateral international cooperation and development assistance.”
The Global Initiative hopes these conclusions and recommendations are followed by all States Parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and urges the Committee to apply similar scrutiny of extra-territorial obligations on a regular basis during periodic reviews.
The Global Initiative’s Parallel Report regarding the List of Issues can be found HERE
The List of Issues can be found HERE
The Global Initiative’s Parallel Report on the legal analysis for the periodic review can be found HERE
The Joint Global Initiative – International Human Rights Clinic at Western New England University School of Law factual Parallel Report can be found HERE
The Global Initiative’s oral intervention can be found HERE.
The Committee’s Concluding Observations can be found HERE.