Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why are we going to the UN?

What’s important about the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)?

The ICESCR and the rights it contains are the basis for almost all PPR’s work. The Covenant contains the right to housing, health, employment, education, social security, leisure, the right to join a trade union, and equal rights for men and women to enjoy economic, social and cultural rights. The Covenant was ratified by the UK government in 1976 which commits them to upholding the contents of the Covenant for all people in the UK.

What does the UN’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights do?

The UN’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a committee made up of 18 human rights experts. They come from all over the world and they decide whether or not governments are fulfilling their commitment to ensure the rights in the Covenant are made real for all people.

How does it all work?

The UK has to submit a report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights every five years. This report should detail what they have done to make each of the rights real over the last five years.

After the report is submitted, the Committee then draws up a list of questions for the government, including asking for more information on the points that seem the most important. It draws the government’s attention to what the committee thinks might have been left out.

The government then responds to these questions in a written form.

Where does this blog come in?

The final stage is the examination of the government by the Committee in Geneva, Switzerland – the place where the Committee sits. This usually takes 2 days, and the Committee members are able to ask a team of representatives of the UK government about their report.

The community representatives are travelling to Geneva to make sure their views are heard throughout this process. They want to ensure that those examining the UK government are made aware of the lack of change occurring in the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland such as in North Belfast.

They group will lobby the Committee members to persuade them to ask the right questions of the UK government. They will draw attention to the lack of participation of the most affected groups in decisions that affect their lives, and highlight longstanding inequalities in health and housing.

If participation in public decision-making is the key to human dignity and human rights, as Mary Robinson once said, then we want to make sure the Committee reiterates this and provides something useful to communities here in Northern Ireland and across the United Kingdom.

For more information on our recommendations, read PPR’s submission to the UN Committee here.

No comments:

Post a Comment