Economic, social and cultural rights

Economic, social and cultural rights are socio-economic human rights, such as the right to education, right to housing, right to adequate standard of living, right to health, victims' rights and the right to science and culture. Economic, social and cultural rights are recognised and protected in international and regional human rights instruments. Member states have a legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfil economic, social and cultural rights and are expected to take "progressive action" towards their fulfilment.

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights recognises a number of economic, social and cultural rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is the primary international legal source of economic, social and cultural rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women recognises and protects many of the economic, social and cultural rights recognised in the ICESCR in relation to children and women. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination prohibits discrimination on the basis of racial or ethnic origin in relation to a number of economic, social and cultural rights. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also prohibits all discrimination on the basis of the disability including refusal of the reasonable accommodation relating to full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.

International and regional human rights instruments

Economic, social and cultural rights are recognized and protected in a number of international and regional human rights instruments.[1]

International human rights instruments

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, is one of the most important sources of economic, social and cultural rights. It recognizes the right to social security in Article 22, the right to work in Article 23, the right to rest and leisure in Article 24, the right to an adequate standard of living in Article 25, the right to education in Article 26, and the right to benefits of science and culture in Article 27.[2]

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is the primary international legal source of economic, social and cultural rights. The Covenant recognized and protects the right to work and to just and favorable working conditions in Article 6 and 7, the right to join trade unions and take collective labor action in Article 8, the right to social security in Article 9, the right to protection of the family, including protection for mothers and children, in Article 10, the right to an adequate standard of living, including the right to food and the right to housing, in Article 11, the right to health in Article 12, the right to education in Article 13, as well as the right to participate in cultural life and the right to benefits of science and culture in Article 15. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted at the same time as the ICESCR, recognizes and protects a number of core economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to join trade unions in Article 22, and the right of ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities to engage in their culture, practice their religion and use their language in Article 27.[3]

A number of other major international human rights instruments contain provisions relating to economic, social and cultural rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes and protects many of the economic, social and cultural rights recognized in the ICESCR in relation to children. Including the right to health in Article 24, the right to social security in Article 25, the right to an adequate standard of living in Article 27, the right to education in Article 28, and the right to protection from economic exploitation (see child labour) in Article 32.[4] The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination prohibits discrimination on the basis of racial or ethnic origin in relation to a number of economic, social and cultural rights. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women affirms a range of economic, social and cultural rights to women. The ILO Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) protect a range of work related economic, social and cultural rights.[5] Common global standards were agreed by some 195 states in the Recommendation on Science and Scientific protect and reassert scientific freedoms, the rights of scientists, and rights of research subjects, and the right of everyone to science.[6]

Regional human rights instruments

The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights protects the right to work in Article 15, the right to health in Article 16, and the right to education in Article 17. The European Social Charter protects a wide range of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to work, to favourable working conditions, the right to join trade unions and to take collective labour action in Article 1 to 10, the right to health in Article 11, the right to social security, including the right to medical assistance and the right to social welfare services, in Article 12 to 14, protection of especially vulnerable groups are enshrined in Article 15 to 17 and 19, and right to housing in Article 31. The Protocol of San Salvador protects a range of economic, social and cultural rights within the Inter-American human rights system.[7]