Palais des Nations, Geneva.Joint oral statement delivered by AI, COHRE, FI, FIAN, FIDH, ICJ, IWRAW Asia Pacific, on behalf of the international NGO Coalition for an OP-ICESCR to the first session of the Human Rights Council
The NGO Coalition for an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights appeals for a drafting mandate to be granted to the Open-Ended Working Group to consider options regarding the elaboration of an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Individually and on behalf of the international NGO Coalition in which all submitting organisations are members, Amnesty International, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), Franciscans International (FI), the Foodfirst Information and Action Network (FIAN), the Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'Homme (FIDH), the International Commission of Jurists and the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia-Pacific (IWRAW Asia-Pacific) welcome the significant progresses made in the discussions on an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The NGO Coalition warmly welcomes the support expressed by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, in his address to the Human Rights Council on the first day of the first session. In particular, we would like to highlight his encouragement of states to agree to an Optional Protocol establishing avenues for lodging complaints under the ICESCR.
The NGO Coalition actively participated in the last session of the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) in February 2006, where increased momentum in favour of the adoption of an effective instrument for a better protection of economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights) was evident. On this occasion, a great majority of states highlighted the need to develop and adopt a comprehensive complaint mechanism that includes all rights and all levels of States’ obligations, taking account of provisions and arrangements under similar international procedural instruments related to other human rights treaties.
Accordingly, a large majority of states as well as the NGO Coalition expressed themselves in favour of a renewal of the mandate of the OEWG as well as its transformation to allow the OEWG to proceed to agreeing the text of a draft optional protocol. In this regard, the NGO Coalition is of the view that the OEWG mandate should be for at least two years.
The NGO Coalition supports the proposal made by numerous delegations during the OEWG session in February 2006 according to which the Chair of the OEWG, Mrs Catarina de Albuquerque, should prepare and present a draft Optional Protocol to the next session of the Working Group. This draft should reflect the discussions and achievements of the three first years of the OEWG and should serve as a basis for the drafting negotiations.
In this context, the first session of the Human Rights Council should approve
an expanded mandate for the OEWG in order to ensure sufficient time to allow
the Chair of the OEWG to conduct consultations on the text of the draft. Finally,
the NGO Coalition would like to reiterate its commitment to active and constructive
participation in the process.