The Government of Serbia adopted the Proposal of a Law for the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the session held on Thursday, June 15, 2023. The proposal has been forwarded to the Assembly of Serbia and we believe that during the extraordinary session, this proposal will be presented to members of the National Assembly.
By ratifying the Optional Protocol, citizens of Serbia will have the opportunity to protect their economic and social rights before an international body – the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, when they are not able to protect these rights before the national courts.
In July 2018, the Republic of Serbia, as part of the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council, rejected the recommendation to consider the ratification of this international treaty that significantly improves the protection of economic, social and cultural rights. At that time this recommendation, which came from Costa Rica, was rejected without any consultation or explanation.
At the end of 2018, we initiated, before the then Office for Human and Minority Rights, in accordance with Art. 4 of the Law on the Conclusion and Execution of International Agreements, the procedure for Serbia’s accession to the Optional Protocol.
Although the initiative was rejected again, a few months later we managed to present the proposal to the competent ministries and since then we have been persistently discussing the ratification of the Optional Protocol.
Today, after more than five years of advocating for the ratification of the Optional Protocol and after receiving new recommendations from treaty bodies dealing with the protection of human rights, we are much closer to significantly improving the protection of economic and social rights in Serbia. This completes the human rights protection system in Serbia, and our country contributes to the practical approximation of civil and political and economic, social and cultural rights.
We are convinced that it is only a matter of time when this document will become part of the legal order in Serbia and enable a higher level of protection of economic and social rights for all of us.