Today at the eight session of the Council of the Government of the Republic of Serbia in charge of monitoring of the implementation of recommendations of UN mechanisms for human rights, the A 11 – Initiative for Economic and Social Rights presented an initiative for signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The initiative was presented to the Office for Human and Minority Rights, line ministries – Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Issues, as well as other state authorities, independent institutions for protection of human rights and associations of citizens members of the Council.
The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was adopted on 10 December 2008 and entered into force on 5 May 2013; since then 49 countries signed it and 25 countries ratified it.
This document is important because it enables individuals or groups to submit petitions to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in cases when they believe that their rights covered by the Covenant have been violated and after exhaustion of all available local legal remedies. The adoption of the Optional Protocol represents a historical milestone in the UN human rights protection system because it equals the status of people filing petitions for protection of economic, social and cultural rights with those filing complaints for violation of civil and political rights.
Republic of Serbia has not signed or ratified this document, which provides additional protection of economic and social rights of citizens. Therefore, at the end of 2018, the A 11 Initiative submitted the initiative to the Office for Human and Minority Rights for signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol.
After presenting the initiative and pointing out benefits stemming from the ratification of the above document in terms of the improvement of the economic and social rights protection system, the Office for Human and Minority Rights has announced opening of a dialog among ministries and civil society organizations on necessity to ratify the Optional Protocol.
Summary on benefits for citizens of Serbia stemming from signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is available here.