International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

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International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Short title: UN social pact; Switzerland: UN Pact I
Title (engl.): International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Abbreviation: ICESCR or IPwskR
Date: December 16, 1966
Come into effect: 3rd January 1976
Reference: LR-No 0.103.1 in: LILEX
BGBl. 1973 II p. 1569
BGBl. No. 590/1978
Contract type: Multinational
Legal matter: Human rights
Signing: 71
Ratification : 164 ( January 28, 2016 )

Germany: Ratified December 23, 1973
Austria: Ratified September 10, 1978
Switzerland: Ratified September 18, 1992
Please note the note on the applicable contract version .

Map of the ratifying (dark green) and signatory states (light green)

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ( english International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights , ICESCR ), short ICESCR or ICESCR , in Switzerland and the UN Covenant I called, is a multilateral international treaty . It was passed unanimously by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 16, 1966 (see General Assembly Resolution 2200 A (XXI)) and has been available for signature since December 19, 1966.

It has now been ratified by 171 states (as of July 9, 2020), including the Federal Republic of Germany (December 23, 1973), Austria (September 10, 1978), Switzerland (September 18, 1992), Luxembourg ( September 18, 1973) . November 1983) and Liechtenstein (December 10, 1998), and is on January 3, 1976 in accordance with Article 27 of the Covenant three months after the deposit of the 35th instrument of ratification or accession (Jamaica, ratification on October 3, 1975) with the Secretary General of the United Nations entered into force.

Its compliance is monitored by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights . An additional protocol for setting up an individual complaint facility was adopted in 2008. After Uruguay became the tenth state to ratify the protocol in February 2013, it came into force in May of the same year.

History of origin

The Four Freedoms Address of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt of January 6, 1941 is regarded as the starting point for the international standardization of human rights . According to his vision of a new world order, four fundamental freedoms should be fundamental: freedom of opinion and religion as well as freedom from lack and fear.

Building on this, in the Charter of the United Nations of June 26, 1945, the idea of ​​protecting human rights in general was included as a goal in the definition of the purposes of the United Nations.

It was only with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was solemnly proclaimed on December 10, 1948, that the concept of human rights under international law received its first tangible expression, even if it was not legally binding.

The UDHR contains a comprehensive catalog of civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights, which was later included in the two international covenants on civil and political rights (IPbürgR or IPbpR) and economic rights, which were adopted simultaneously on December 16, 1966 by the UN General Assembly , social and cultural rights (IPwskR) rose.

The negotiation of the text of the treaty for the pact on economic, social and cultural rights took place in parallel with the negotiations for the UN civil pact, which was concluded at the same time, between 1948 and 1966. The negotiations were determined by the political interests and constellations on which the East-West conflict and decolonization were based. One of the points of contention in the worsening Cold War was the question of the extent to which a transnational international agreement could influence state sovereignty. Furthermore, there was disagreement among the states as to whether political and civil rights (later UN civil pact) should be formulated in a treaty together with economic, social and cultural rights (later UN social pact). Above all, the USA and Great Britain feared that the international law treaty would have less effect due to an extension of the treaty text to include economic rights. Another point of contention was the question of the regional validity of the treaty. The USA demanded that in federal states the federal states should freely decide on the application of the human rights pact. Great Britain also demanded that colonial areas should be excluded from the scope of the human rights pact. Decolonized states, however, demanded that the peoples' right to self-determination be implemented as a human right in the pact. After 18 years of political struggle, the two treaties were finally adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 20, 1966 .

Structure and content of the pact


The IPwskR comprises 31 articles which, in addition to the preamble, are divided into five parts. Part I (Article 1) emphasizes the right of peoples to self-determination as the basis for enjoying all other human rights. Part II (Articles 2 to 5) contains some general provisions on the Pact. The core of the pact is part III (Articles 6 to 15), which contains the material basis for concrete human rights guarantees.

The individual pact rights

The pact defines economic, social and cultural rights of every individual, including:

Law source
the equality of men and women Article 3
the right to work Article 6.1
the right to freedom of occupation
the right to professional advice
the right to just and favorable working conditions Article 7
the right to a fair wage Article 7 a) i)
the right to equal pay for work of equal value Article 7 a) i)
the right to a decent livelihood (through work) Article 7 a) ii)
the right to safe and healthy working conditions Article 7 b)
the right to breaks from work , the right to regular paid vacation ,
the right to remuneration for public holidays
Article 7 d)
the right to form trade unions Article 8.1
the right to form trade union federations Article 8.2
the right to strike Article 8.4
the right to social security and the right to social insurance Article 9
the right to the greatest possible protection and assistance for the family Article 10.1
the prohibition of forced marriage Article 10.1
the right to maternity leave Article 10.2
the right to paid maternity leave Article 10.2
the right to equal treatment and freedom from discrimination (in particular on the basis of parentage )
in the case of special measures to protect and support all children and young people
Article 10.3
the right to protection from economic and social exploitation for children and young people Article 10.3
the right to a minimum working age for children Article 10.3
the right to an adequate standard of living including the right to housing Article 11.1
the right to be protected from hunger,
together with Article 11.1 sentence 1 the right to adequate nutrition
Article 11.2
the right to the highest possible physical and mental health Article 12.1
the right to medical care for everyone Article 12.2.d
the right to education Article 13.1
the general compulsory primary education and the right to free primary education Article 13.2.a
the right to general access to higher education Article 13.2.b
the right to general access to universities for everyone, in particular through the right to free studies , esp
the general compulsory education and the right to free school Article 14
the right to participate in cultural life Article 15.1
the right to participate in scientific progress and its applications Article 15.2
the copyright Article 15.3
the right to freedom of research Article 15.4

These rights apply equally to everyone. They are therefore non-discriminatory (Article 2.2), in particular with regard to

Monitoring mechanisms

As in the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, the contracting states are obliged to submit periodic reports to the UN Human Rights Committee . The UN Human Rights Committee can also accept and negotiate individual complaints from individuals in countries that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Social Covenant. In Germany, the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Social Pact is still being examined.

Federal Republic of Germany

The Federal Republic of Germany signed the treaty on October 9, 1968 (see Federal Law Gazette 1973 II, page 1569) and deposited the instrument of ratification with the Secretary General of the United Nations on December 17, 1973 (see Federal Law Gazette 1976 II, p. 428). When the pact came into force on January 3, 1976 (see Federal Law Gazette 1976 II, page 428), the Federal Republic of Germany is bound by the pact under international law.

The Approval Act (also known as the Treaty Act), on the basis of which the international law ratification by the Federal President took place on December 17, 1973, was passed by the German Bundestag on November 23, 1973 (cf. Bundesgesetzblatt 1973 II, page 1569). Previously, all federal states had also agreed to the accession of the Federal Republic of Germany to the pact (see resolution according to the Bundesrat, printed paper 305/73 of May 25, 1973 and report and application of the Foreign Affairs Committee, printed paper 7/1093 of October 17, 1973, page 4 ).

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the treaty has thus been elevated to the status of a formal federal law by the treaty law of November 23, 1973, which entered into force on January 3, 1976 at the same time as the pact itself. So far, the law has not been repealed or otherwise restricted in its validity.

In particular, Article 13 (2) (c) of the IPwSCR has received greater attention in recent years in the context of discussions on the question of collecting general tuition fees.

In jurisprudence it has not yet been conclusively clarified whether and, if so, which specific legal consequences result from Article 13 paragraph 2 letter c).

In principle, according to Article 2 Paragraph 1 IPwskR, only the contracting states are directly bound to the pact, in the case of the Federal Republic of Germany only the federal government as a regional body. According to Article 28 of the IPwskR, the pact provisions should also apply to the individual member states, especially in federal states.

According to Article 19, Paragraph 4 of the Basic Law , anyone who is violated in their rights by public authority has recourse to legal action. This applies not only to violations of fundamental rights , but to all rights protected in the German legal system. Thus, the guarantee of legal recourse in Article 19.4 of the Basic Law also covers cases in which the state violates directly effective international human rights norms which, according to Article 59.2 and Article 25 of the Basic Law, are part of domestic law. The German user of the law is bound to the transformed provisions of international law through Article 20, Paragraph 3 of the Basic Law (“ Jurisprudence is bound by law and justice”). The regulation also implies the obligation to familiarize oneself with the content and interpretation of these regulations.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Text of the Additional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish; PDF; 3.5 MB)
  2. ^ Status of the ratification of the Optional Protocol on the Individual Complaint. UN database on international law
  3. Peter Ridder: The human rights pacts. In: Sources on the history of human rights. Working Group on Human Rights in the 20th Century, May 2015, accessed on January 11, 2017 .
  4. cf. The introduction of tuition fees and the international pact on economic, social and cultural rights (UN social pact) ( Memento of the original dated February 3, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 465 kB). Statement by the Education and Science Union (GEW) and the free association of student bodies (FCS) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /