Legal News of the Day: UN Rights Mechanism Takes Effect

On Sunday, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights took effect.  The Protocol allows a United Nations committee to review complaints from people/groups who’ve exhausted all options for justice within their own countries for violations of economic, social, and/or cultural rights.  The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will examine complaints, and then send its views and recommendations to all parties involved.  The state party is required to give consideration o the committee’s recommendations and submit a written response within six months.

With only ten countries having ratified the Protocol, however, it’s not clear how great an effect this will have.  Because nations must opt in, some critics suspect that those nations likely of violating these types of rights will not be governed by the Protocol, leaving the people living in those countries from protection.