International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
ICESCR is an international human rights treaty adopted in 1966. The UK ratified (agreed to follow) ICESCR in 1976.
By ratifying ICESCR, the UK agrees to ensure the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, including the rights to:
- fair and just conditions of work
- an adequate standard of living
- the highest attainable standard of health
- social security
How the treaty is monitored
The implementation of ICESCR is monitored by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Around every five years the Committee reviews how well each state is putting into practice the rights in ICESCR. Find out more about previous review cycles.
There are six stages in the treaty cycle. Civil society organisations can engage throughout this process. The UN’s website has more information on how to participate.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) treaty cycle
The ICESCR review cycle is currently at stage 6: Government implements recommendations.
1. Stakeholders report on progress
2. UN publishes list of issues
3. Stakeholders respond to list of issues
4. UN examines the government
- the examination took place in Geneva on Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 June 2016
5. UN publishes recommendations
- UN publishes recommendations to the UK (June 2016)
- the government is to submit its seventh periodic report by June 2021
6. Government implements recommendations
ICESCR has one Optional Protocol. This is an additional treaty that allows people to complain directly to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights if they believe their rights have been violated. It can only be used when all domestic channels have been exhausted. It has not been ratified by the UK.
The Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights has issued a number of General Comments on ICESCR. These provide further detail on how it should be interpreted, covering issues such as the rights to education, work and social security.