Entry into force of the OP-ICESCR
The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant to the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR) entered into force on 5 May 2013, thus providing victims of violations of the Covenant with the possibility of submitting individual and collective complaints before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The members of the Project on ESC rights have published an
Academy In-Brief on the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR.
The members of the Project on ESC rights have also commented on the entry into force of the OP-ICESCR in two articles published in 2013. The first article, "Economic, Social and Cultural Rights" published in the European Journal of Human Rights, n. 2013/2, traces significant developments in the field of economic, social, and cultural rights as they emerged in 2012.
In an article published in the law journal Pratique juridique actuelle, Dr. Christophe Golay analyses the influence of the entry into force of the OP-ICESCR for Switzerland (in French).
Academic research and legal and policy advice
The ESCR Project provides academic expertise and legal advice to a variety of audiences, including the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee and the Special Procedures that address economic, social and cultural rights, as well as to academia, students, NGOs, diplomats, UN staff, courts and tribunals and UN Treaty Bodies.
The ESCR Project plays an important role in facilitating the understanding and development of legal and policy issues related to ESCR by providing input and by offering the space for brainstorming and discussion among experts in the field and the wider public. Along these lines, a series of successful events have been organized in the last years:
In November 2013, the ESCR Project organized a conference on the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the NGO coalition ESCR-Net. At this occasion, a high-level panel of experts with Dr. Renato Ribeiro Leao, Vice Chair of the UN Committee on ESCR, and Prof. Walter Kälin, member of the Human Rights Committee, reflected on the practical ramifications of the Optional Protocol’s entry into force and its significance for ensuring access to justice in cases of violations of ESC rights.
In March 2012, the Academy supported the organization at the Palais des Nations of an event of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, placed under the patronage of Ms. Ruth Dreifuss, member of the Swiss Federal Government between 1993 – 2002. The conference dealt with the responsibility of states and international organizations for the children who are victims of Noma, the disfiguring disease which is traced to the intersection of severe malnutrition and extreme poverty.
In 2010 – 2011, the ESCR Project organized a series of five workshops for the Swiss federal administration and civil society in Bern on the right to food, the rights to water and sanitation, the right to health, cultural rights and the justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights respectively. The workshops benefited from the expertise of several UN Special Rapporteurs and the Swiss Chair of Human Rights, Prof. Eibe Riedel.
In March 2010, the ESCR Project hosted the conference “A New Initiative to Protect the Right of Peasants”, chaired by Jean Ziegler and having as distinguished guest speakers Prof. Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, H.E. Jean Feyder, Ambassador of Luxembourg to the UN, Sandra Ratjen, Advocacy Coordinator of FIAN International and Henry Saragih, International Coordinator of La Via Campesina.
Together with the NGO 3D, the ESCR Project hosted in May 2009 a seminar on “The Global Land Grab: A Human Rights Approach”, which attracted great interest from UN Special Procedure, members of different treaty bodies and representatives of UN agencies and other researchers.
In June 2009, the third volume of the Swiss Human Rights Books focusing on Realizing the Rights to Health was launched. The International Symposium organized with this occasion benefitted from the participation of world experts on the right to health, such as Mary Robinson, Chair of the GAVI Alliance, Mary Crewe, Director for the Centre of the Study of AIDS at the University of Pretoria, Eibe Riedel, Swiss Chair of Human Rights and Member of the UN Committee on ESCR.
- With the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, an expert seminar was hosted in July 2009, on the role and impact of the UN Special Procedures in the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights law and practice. Former and current Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts, researchers having worked or working as advisers to special procedures and staff from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were present at the expert meeting.
Teaching and Training
The ESCR Project offers teaching, training, short courses and further education on ESC rights for graduate students, diplomats, staff of international organisations, non-governmental organisations and national human rights commissions. As part of its training activities, the ESCR Project organizes two annual trainings on ESCR: the Training on Understanding Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Advanced Training on Monitoring Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Tailored courses are being offered to national human rights commissions, governments, NGOs, and other organisations, responding to the need for training and specific expertise in monitoring ESCR in national contexts. Such courses have been offered to the Human Rights Commission and NGOs of the Maldives in 2010 and to the Human Rights Commission and NGOs of Nepal in 2011.
Researchers and contact persons
Dr. Christophe Golay
Dr. Adriana Bessa
The ESCR Project is involved in publishing reports and research documents, monographs and edited collections on ESC rights topics, such as:
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Co-authored by Christophe Golay, Irene Biglino and Ivona Truscan, 2 European Journal of Human Righs, 2013, pp. 269-296. Available here
The Contribution of UN Special Procedures to the Human Rights and Development Dialogue
Co-authored by Christophe Golay, Irene Biglino and Ivona Truscan,
Available in English, Spanish and Portuguese here
Human Rights Responses to Land Grabbing: a right to food perspective,
Co-authored by Christophe Golay and Irene Biglino,
34 Third World Quarterly, 2013, pp. 1630-1650
Droit à l’alimentation et accès à la justice,
By Christophe Golay
Bruxelles, Bruylant, 2011.
The Fight for the Right to Food: Lessons Learned,
Jean Ziegler, Christophe Golay, Claire Mahon and Sally-Anne Way
Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
The Impact of the UN Special Procedures on the Development and Implementation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
Co-authored by Christophe Golay, Claire Mahon, Ioana Cismas,
15 The International Journal of Human Rights, 2011, pp. 299-318
“The Food Crisis and Food Security: Towards a New World Food Order?”,
by Christophe Golay, 1 International Development Policy Series, 2010, pp. 215-232
(available in English and French on the publication’s website)
The Right to Food and Access to Justice: Examples at the National, Regional, and International Levels,
Christophe Golay, FAO, Rome, 2009 (FAO website)
Realizing the Right to Health, co-edited by Andrew Clapham,
Mary Robinson, Claire Mahon and Scott Jerbi, Rüffer and Rub, Zurich, 2009
(plus d’informations à www.swisshumanrightsbook.ch).
"Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and the Right to Health",
by Claire Mahon, in Realizing the Right to Health, Andrew Clapham, Mary Robinson,
Claire Mahon and Scott Jerbi (eds), Rüffer & Rubb, Zurich, 2009.
“Progress at the Front: The draft Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”,
by Claire Mahon, 8 Human Rights Law Review 4, October 2008