Public debate – Why do we need to ratify the Optional Protocol?

A 11 – Initiative for Economic and Social Rights on October 20, 2021 organizes a public event to discuss the importance and opportunities in the field of improving economic and social rights in Serbia that the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and cultural rights would bring.

Numerous organizations, including independent mechanisms for the protection of human rights in Serbia, indicate in their work and reports that the citizens of Serbia often encounter insurmountable obstacles in trying to exercise their economic and social rights. Several treaty bodies have also recognized in their concluding observations the particular difficulties individuals on the territory of Serbia face in the realization of these rights, particularly the CRPD, CEDAW, CRC and CESCR.  

Bearing in mind that a large number of people live on the edge of poverty, that a significant number of citizens do not have access to adequate housing, that new methods of attending school introduced due to the infectious disease COVID-19 have a disproportionate impact on particularly vulnerable categories of children, and that certain novel legislation concerning labor rights is not harmonized with the international obligations of the Republic of Serbia, it is necessary to consider new ways in which to improve the protection of economic and social rights in Serbia.  

Therefore, we believe that the time is opportune to initiate a conversation on ensuring access to an international mechanism for the protection of economic and social rights such as the one provided for in the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Should Serbia ratify this document, persons on its territory would be able to address the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in situations where they believe that their rights guaranteed by the Covenant have been violated and when they cannot satisfy those rights through existing national protection mechanisms. In addition, this mechanism could contribute to building national capacities in the area of economic, social and cultural rights as well as in achieving progress in the implementation of the rights recognized in the Covenant.  

Bearing in mind that certain countries in our region have already signed and ratified this document, and that the number of countries acceding thereto is growing, we would like to consider what benefits the Republic of Serbia and its citizens would have in case of accession.  

Considering that this issue is important for all persons residing on the territory of Serbia, we invite you to contribute to this public debate on 20 October 2021 from 1 p.m. via Zoom link.

Agenda of the event can be downloaded here


A public debate is organized by A 11 – Initiative for Economic and Social Rights through the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Belgrade Open School (BOS).