More than 50 civil society organizations against further deterioration of economic and social rights in Serbia

The initiative for the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that the A 11 – Initiative for Economic and Social Rights submitted to the Office for Human and Minority Rights has been rejected without any justification.

Although the Office for Human and Minority Rights was obliged, in line with its competencies defined by the Decree on the Office for Human and Minority Rights, and procedures foreseen by the Law on the Conclusion and Execution of International Agreements, to accept the initiative and submit a proposal for the conclusion of this international treaty to the Government of Serbia, it failed to do so and forwarded the said initiative to the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Issues, which rejected the initiative without any explanation.


While it is said that the overall economic situation in Serbia is improving, the fact is that reports from NGOs and NHRIs indicate that an increasing number of citizens face violations of economic and social rights, and that Serbia is one of the countries with the widest gap between the rich and the poor in Europe.

While social assistance beneficiaries have been stigmatized for years with allegations of numerous abuses, financial social assistance amounts to less than € 90 per month, with most beneficiaries receiving it for only nine months during the calendar year.

 While it is pointed out that socially vulnerable people are unwilling to work, the truth is that those who are able-bodied perform unskilled jobs in order to be eligible for social assistance. By applying the illegal and unconstitutional Decree on Measures of Social Inclusion of Beneficiaries of Financial Social Assistance, at least 10,000 beneficiaries have been forced to perform unpaid work in order not to lose their right to financial social assistance.

While talking about unemployment reduction, Serbia continues to pursue a policy of flexibilization and reduction of workers’ rights, while the minimum wage does not allow them to lead a dignified life.

While special laws are being enacted in order to build low-cost housing for members of the army, police force and state security agencies, Serbia has poverty tax for quite some time – imposing a tax burden on beneficiaries of social housing and housing intended for refugees and internally displaced persons; numerous housing problems remain unresolved.

While it is emphasized that caring for the most vulnerable is one of the priorities, the budget of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Issues is shrinking, austerity measures and especially reduction in pensions have affected the most vulnerable citizens, and in particular pensioners. These policies are reducing the attainment level of human and minority rights.

While emphasizing the importance of population growth and increasing the birth rate, laws that are enacted drastically reduce maternity benefits, discriminate entire groups of women, and prevent Roma children from receiving financial support from the state for their child-rearing.

While health care is proclaimed as one of the most important issues, the Draft Law on Health Insurance prescribes that citizens who fail to undertake screening checks shall pay 35% of the costs of treatment. Many people will not be able to afford to pay this 35% of the costs of treatment due to low-income and poverty.

For years, citizens of Serbia have not been able to get adequate nor efficient judicial protection for the above economic and social rights violations.

Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights would allow individuals, who exhausted all available domestic remedies, to address the United Nations Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and to have their rights protected.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, demand that the Government of the Republic of Serbia finally initiate a dialogue on the state of economic and social rights in order to review the detrimental policies affecting the realization of these rights.

We also request that the Government of the Republic of Serbia inform the public as to why recommendations of international human rights bodies received by the Republic of Serbia in order to improve economic and social rights and protect citizens in case of violations, have not been accepted.

At the same time, these are necessary steps towards fulfilling the obligations that the Republic of Serbia has with respect to international treaties that guarantee economic and social rights and the development of a society based on solidarity, social justice and dignity for all citizens of Serbia.


  1. A 11 – Initiative for Economic and Social Rights
  2. Academy of Female Leadership
  3. AS –Center for the Empowerment of Young Persons Living with HIV and AIDS
  4. ASTRA
  5. Atina – Citizens’ Association for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and All Forms of Gender-Based Violence
  6. Autonomous Women’s Center
  7. Belgrade Center for Human Rights
  8. Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence
  9. BIRODI – Bureau for Social Research
  10. Center for Dignified Work
  11. Center of Modern Skills
  12. Center for Democratic Development EUROPOLIS
  13. Center for Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities Serbia
  14. CeSID
  15. Citizens’ Association Women for Peace
  16. Civil Rights Defenders
  17. Counselling for Lesbians
  18. CPD – Child Rights Center
  19. CPE – Center for the Politics of Emancipation
  20. CRTA
  21. Cultural Center DamaD
  22. Da se zna! 
  23. Dijalog Net
  24. FemPlatz
  25. Foundation Center for Democracy
  26. Gayten-LGBT
  27. Group 484
  28. Housing Center – Housing Development Center for Socially Vulnerable Groups
  29. IAN
  30. Internet portal Dialogue Net
  31. Institute for Urban Politics
  32. Liceulice
  33. Mental Disability Rights Initiative of Serbia
  34. Novi Sad Humanitarian Center
  35. NUNS – Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia
  36. Open Society Foundation Serbia
  37. PIN
  38. Policy Center
  39. Praxis
  40. Prof. dr Zoran Stojiljković, president of Serbian Citizens’ Association Independence
  41. Reconstruction Women’s Fund
  42. SOS Vojvodina Network
  43. Trag Foundation
  44. Coalition of Serbian Patients’ Associations
  45. Union of Serbian Judiciary
  46. Učitelj neznalica
  47. Youth Initiative for Human Rights
  48. YUCOM – Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights
  49. YUROM Center
  50. ZA Krov nad glavom
  51. Women in Black
  52. Women’s Center Užice