The Irish Government has been examined by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights onJune 8th and 9th 2015. The UN Committee comprises a group of 18 independent international experts, who will examine the Irish State’s progress in protecting, respecting and promoting the rights contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
At the examination, Irish State representant said that the Constitutional Convention recommendation on incorporating Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is still ‘a live issue for Government’. So it is the good time to join the “ESC Rights Initiative”
The ESC Rights Initiative is a coalition of civil society organisations that support the strengthening of economic, social and cultural rights protection in the Irish Constitution.
The ESC Rights Initiative successfully campaigned for the inclusion of economic, social and cultural rights as an agenda item of the Constitutional Convention. Following a comprehensive examination, the Convention recommended a strengthened constitutional framework in its 2014 report to government. This recommendation has yet to be responded to or acted upon by government. For the reasons outlined below the ESC Rights Initiative believe that the adoption of justiciable ESC rights in the Constitution should be a priority of a democratic and progressive government and call for this principle to be adopted by all political parties and affiliates.
Human Rights are Economic, Social, Cultural, Civil and Political Rights
The ESC Rights Initiative believes that the constitutional strengthening of ESC Rights would bring balance to existing civil and political rights protection in the Constitution, which are justiciable, thus achieving the intended indivisibility between civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights. Economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights are fundamental human rights. They belong to everyone in Ireland. The Irish Government committed to uphold them when it ratified the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1989. The protection of these rights is necessary to ensure a life of dignity.
Why are Economic, Social and Cultural Rights important?
Economic, social and cultural rights play a fundamental role in the creation of a more just, inclusive and socially sustainable society. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) gives substance to rights outlined in the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights. These international instruments are an expression of universal values that respect the dignity and human rights of all people. ESC Rights thus underpin and complement principles of social justice and democracy.
How can economic, social and cultural rights be strengthened?
In Ireland, civil and political rights cannot be withdrawn because they are expressed as justiciable rights in the Constitution and can be vindicated through the Courts. In contrast, economic, social and cultural rights are constitutionally expressed as directive principles rather than a right that can be vindicated though the courts. The ESC Rights Initiative believes that economic, social and cultural rights should be given equivalent justiciable expression in the Constitution.
How would constitutionalised contribute to social justice and equality for all?
A robust ESC rights regime puts in place a social floor that protects citizens from poverty, guarantees accommodation, facilitates access to education and health and elevates the position of minorities experiencing inequalities. A constitutional regime that includes ESC Rights would ensure a strong social inclusion/equality dimension to policy making, a fairer allocation of resources and an accessible and affordable judicial process of redress for citizens.
Economic, social and cultural rights assume a particular importance in times of austerity and cut-backs in health and welfare services. Signatories of the human rights covenants are expected to progressively realise these rights. Under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights the reversal of progressive realisation is prohibited unless a state proves that any retrogressive measures have only been introduced after the most careful consideration of alternatives. This provides a safeguard for less well-off and marginalised people who tend to be disproportionately affected by economic downturns.
The Economic, Social and Cultural (ESC) Rights Initiative is a network of organisations and individuals with a shared belief that strengthening the protection of ESC rights would play a fundamental role in the creation of a more just, inclusive and socially sustainable society. The aim of the Initiative is to ensure that ESC rights are made legally enforceable in the Constitution. Members of the Initiative are among others: Age Action, Aiden Lloyd, Amnesty International Ireland, All Together in Dignity Ireland, Children Rights Alliance, Community Action Network, Equality and Rights Alliance, Free Legal Aid Centres (FLAC), Focus Ireland, Irish Heart Foundation, Mercy Law Centre, Community Law and Mediation, Pavee Point, Peter McVerry Trust.
Contact Pierre about ATD’s involvement in the ESC Rights initiative!