Press Releases

    Background Release

    8 November 2002


    Will Consider Reports of Slovak Republic, Poland, Georgia, Solomon Islands, Estonia

    GENEVA, 7 November (UN Information Service) -- The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 11 to 29 November to examine measures taken by the Slovak Republic, Poland, Georgia, the Solomon Islands and Estonia to comply with the standards of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

    Those five countries are among 145 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 acceding to the treaty, States agree to submit periodic reports to the Committee on how they give effect to the provisions of the Covenant. The panel evaluates the reports and makes observations and recommendations on improving the promotion and protection of the rights enshrined in the Covenant.

    In the case of long-overdue reports, the Committee may review the implementation of the treaty in a given country based on available information.

    At the opening of the session, the Committee will adopt its agenda. It will then discuss other substantive issues arising in the implementation of the Covenant, an exercise in which it is scheduled to hear from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

    On Friday, 22 November, the Committee will hold a preliminary discussion of a draft general comment on the right to water, article 11 of the Covenant. This discussion will be held under an agenda item on substantive issues arising in the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The general comment on the right to water will also be discussed on Tuesday, 26 November, and is expected to be adopted that afternoon.

    Committee's concluding observations and recommendations on the last reports
    submitted by Poland and Georgia

    When the Committee examined the third periodic report of Poland in 1998, it recommended, among other things, that the rights of all minority groups participate in national political and economic life and the right to practice and teach their culture be fully respected; and that every effort be made to ensure women's right to health, in particular reproductive health. The Committee also recommended that Poland's 1962 citizenship law, which discriminates against women by not granting them the same right as men to transmit citizenship to their foreign-born spouses, be abolished, and that the right to work be fully protected for women as well as for men on the basis of equal pay for equal work. The Committee finally urged the State party to accelerate its process of ratification of International Labour Office Conventions Nos. 102, 176, 97 and 159.

    Following review of the initial report of Georgia in 2000, the Committee recommended, among other things, that the State party continue to seek international technical assistance, as provided for in article 23 of the Covenant, in its efforts to improve the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights in the country. The Committee recommended that Georgia ensure that its international human rights obligations were met and urged the State party to take adequate measures to ensure that the minimum wage was sufficient to meet the basic needs of the wage earner and his or her family; that Georgia take remedial action to ensure that workers in various sectors of the economy were paid on time; that the State party treat with more concern the growing number of children begging on the street; and that it create conditions that would allow internally displaced persons to return to their places of origin.

    The Slovak Republic, the Solomon Islands, and Estonia are submitting initial reports and, thus, the Committee has made no previous recommendations on the situations in those countries.

    Provisional Timetable for Consideration of Reports

    Tuesday, 12 November 2002

    Morning Slovak Republic, initial report (E/1990/5/Add.49)
    Afternoon Slovak Republic (continued)

    Wednesday, 13 November 2002

    Morning Slovak Republic (continued)
    Afternoon Poland, fourth periodic report (E/C.12/4/Add.9)

    Thursday, 14 November 2002

    Morning Poland (continued)
    Afternoon Georgia, second periodic reports (E/1990/6/Add.31)

    Friday, 15 November 2002

    Georgia (continued)

    Monday, 18 November 2002

    Morning Solomon Islands, initial reports (E/1990/5/Add.50)
    Afternoon Solomon Islands (continued)

    Tuesday, 19 November 2002

    Morning Solomon Islands (continued)
    Afternoon Estonia, initial reports (E/1990/5/Add.50)

    Wednesday, 20 November 2002

    Morning Estonia (continued)
    Afternoon Estonia (continued)

    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.

    Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

    The Economic and Social Council established the Committee in 1985. Elected by the Economic and Social Council by secret ballot from a list of persons nominated by States parties to the Covenant, its 18 members are human rights experts serving in their personal capacity.

    The Committee is composed of the following Experts: Mahmoud Samir Ahmed (Egypt), Clement Atangana (Cameroon), Rocio Barahona Riera (Costa Rica), Virginia Bonoan-Dandan (Philippines), Dumitru Ceausu (Romania), Abdessatar Grissa (Tunisia), Paul Hunt (New Zealand), Yuri Kolosov (Russian Federation), Giorgio Malinverni (Switzerland), Jaime Marchán Romero (Ecuador), Sergei Martynov (Belarus), Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay (Mauritius), Kenneth Osborne Rattray (Jamaica), Eibe Riedel (Germany), Walid M. Sa'di (Jordan), Philippe Texier (France), Nutan Thapalia (Nepal), and Javier Wimer Zambrano (Mexico).

    States Parties to the Covenant

    The Covenant has been ratified or acceded to by 145 States: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, 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, 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, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    * *** *