|Thematic areas of work
ESC Rights in the context of Business Activities
The Committee will hold a ‘Day of Discussion’ on ‘the Draft General Comment on State Obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Context of Business Activities’ on 21 February 2017, during its next session.
The Day of Discussion will be open to all stakeholders and written submissions in advance of the Day of Discussion are invited. More information about the Day of Discussion is available HERE, including:
- the draft of the proposed General Comment (only in English at this stage, but French and Spanish versions to be available before the Day of Discussion);
- details on how to make written submissions; and
- details on how to register to attend the Day of Discussion.
A programme of the Day of Discussion will be made available on the same webpage in the coming months.
Human Rights Defenders of Economic, Social & Cultural Rights
On 7 October 2016 the Committee adopted a STATEMENT on ‘human rights defenders of economic, social and cultural rights’ (E/C.12/2016/2).
The statement was made by the Committee following a briefing and discussion paper prepared jointly by GIESCR, the International Service for Human Rights and the International Platform Against Impunity. A coalition of over 300 civil society organisations coordinated by these NGOs also wrote to the Committee in May 2016 urging it to take action.
This is the first comprehensive public Statement by a UN human rights treaty body specifically addressing human rights defenders. It provides a clear articulation of the Committee’s views on this topic and strong guidance to States on the protection of defenders of ESC rights. Importantly, the Statement commences by recognising the essential contribution of civil society to the effective promotion, protection and realization of ESC rights, especially in monitoring and evaluating States’ compliance with the Covenant and dissemination of information about the ICESCR and the Committee’s work.
The Committee notes its ‘alarm’ at ‘past and present incidences …. regarding the situation of human rights defenders working in the field of economic, social and cultural rights’ and underlines the importance of human rights defenders ‘being able to work freely without any threat or fear’. It ‘reminds States parties of their responsibility to ensure that human rights defenders are effectively protected against any and all forms of abuse, violence and reprisal which they might experience while carrying out their work to promote the realization of these rights’ and urges compliance with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. It also outlines specific measures that States should adopt to safeguard defenders of ESC rights.
A key advance in the Statement is the confirmation that it considers ‘any threat or violence against human rights defenders to constitute violations of States’ obligations towards the realization of Covenant rights’.