Background Release

            22 April 2005

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to Hold Thirty-Fourth Session from 25 April to 13 May 2005

Reports of Zambia, China, Serbia and Montenegro, Norway to Be Considered

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 21 April (UN Information Service) -- The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will meet at the Palais des Nations (Conference Room XXIII) in Geneva, from 25 April to 13 May 2005, to examine measures taken by Zambia, China, Serbia and Montenegro and Norway to comply with the standards of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Those four countries are among the 151 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 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 elect from its members a Chairperson, three Vice-Chairpersons and a Rapporteur. It will then adopt its agenda and programme of work before discussing other substantive issues arising in the implementation of the Covenant. In the afternoon, the Committee will hear information from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with respect to the reports which it will review during the current session.

The Committee will accord the highest priority at this session to consider and adopt draft general comments on article 6 to the Covenant on the right to work, and to its meeting with States parties to the Covenant which is scheduled for the afternoon of 10 May, 2005.

Zambia, China and Serbia and Montenegro are presenting their initial reports. Norway is presenting its fourth periodic report and the Committee’s conclusions on the third periodic report, which was reviewed in November and December 1995, can be found in document E/C.12/1995/13.

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.

States Parties to the Covenant

The Covenant has been ratified or acceded to by 151 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, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 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, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, 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, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, 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 Experts: Mohamed Ezzeldin Adel-Moneim (Egypt), Clement Atangana (Cameroon), Rocio Barahona Riera

(Costa Rica), Virginia Bonoan-Dandan (Philippines), Maria Virginia Bras Gomes (Portugal), Azzouz Kerdoun (Algeria), Yuri Kolosov (Russian Federation), Giorgio Malinverni (Switzerland), Jaime Marchán Romero (Ecuador), Sergei Martynov (Belarus), Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay (Mauritius), Eibe Riedel (Germany), Andrzej Rzeplinski (Poland), Walid M. Sa'di (Jordan), Philippe Texier (France), Alvaro Tirado Mejia (Colombia), and Shen Yongxiang (China).

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