Hoy me ha tocado presentar el informe anual del Comité de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales ante la Asamblea General (tercera comisión) de la ONU en Nueva York. se trata de un gran honor y una gran oportunidad.
Luego han intervenido 6 países para hacer comentarios y preguntas: Portugal, Polonia, la Unión Europea, España, Nigeria y Sudáfrica.
La intervención ha tenido 5 ideas centrales: el impacto de la crisis económica y financiera en los Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (DESC); el impacto de los conflictos; los DESC y los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible; la puesta al día de la carga de trabajo que traíamos de años atrás; y el inicio del trabajo sobre las comunicaciones individuales en el marco del Protocolo Facultativo.
Os adjunto algunas notas en inglés:
First – during our dialogues with State Parties, the Committee has been continuingly confronted with the impact of the economic and financial crisis on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. Issues which arise in this context are of major importance not only for the affected right-holders but also for the interpretation and understanding of the Covenant itself. In the first attempt to address them, the Committee sent in 2012 a letter to all State Parties concerning the requirements that must be met by austerity measures to stay in conformity with the Covenant. The Committee will still need to elaborate on a more general question of the relationship of the continuing decrease of State resources and how this affects State Party compliance with two basic principles of the Covenant: the obligations of State Parties to use the maximum of available resources to implement economic, social and cultural rights and the principle of non-retrogression. The Committee should also provide guidance in this respect.
Second– the direct and indirect consequences of internal and international conflicts on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights have been striking during the examination of the reports of State Parties. Needless to say that there is an urgent need to go more in-depth conceptually and in practical terms regarding the impact of the protection of economic, social and cultural rights on the prevention and resolution of conflicts. This issue must be better contextualized in terms of e.g. access to water, to food, to health care or to cultural heritage. Few would need to be persuaded that the recent unprecedented in their scale, mixed migratory flows, arise in the context of a deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights of entire populations and communities. The Committee needs to use its capacities to analyze such issues and provide guidance based on the Covenant.
Third – in the Committee, we hope that economic, social and cultural rights will lie at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals implementation strategy. They may provide important guidelines for planning of roadmaps for the implementation of the SDGs tailored to the needs of specific countries. It also may equip the reviews at the international and national levels with evaluation criteria based on internationally accepted standards, as well as with guidance with regard to accountability for the implementation of SDGs. The Committee has expressed its position in this regard in its statement on the post-2015 agenda, on the Right to Development and by joining the joint statement of Chairpersons concerning SDGs, issued earlier this year. A continuing contribution by the Committee to the implementation process seems to be indispensable.
Fourth – all the developments indicated so far constitute important challenges to the Committee which should, of course, be placed against the background of the Committee’s capabilities to carry out its mandate under the Covenant. We have continually improved our methods of work and we have already reported to the General Assembly about the steps taken in this regard. The Committee has applied the rule of two meetings for periodic reports and three meetings for initial reports. In this case, the two meetings rule however caused on some occasions hardships for both state parties delegations and Committee members and this was often at the expense of the quality of the dialogue. These measures together with the additional meeting time granted to the Committee in the follow-up to the aforementioned GA resolution have helped the Committee to make a significant progress in reducing the backlog of the State Parties reports awaiting consideration.
Fifth - the Optional Protocol has begun to be a living instrument of the protection of economic, social and cultural rights. Since the Committee last addressed the General Assembly a year ago, four new States became parties to the Optional Protocol, namely France, Italy, Luxembourg and San Marino. In total, the Protocol presently has 21 States parties.
Our Committee invites all States parties of the Covenant to ratify the Optional Protocol as swiftly as possible. In this regard, our Committee hopes to count on the valuable support of the States of “Group of Friends of the Optional Protocol”, non-governmental organizations and civil society involved in the promotion of the Optional Protocol.
With regards to the communications received by our Committee, I am pleased to inform you that in its 55th session, the Committee adopted its first decision (Views) on the merits concerning a communication and found a violation of article 11 (on the right to housing), read in conjunction with article 2, paragraph 1, of the Covenant. In its recently concluded 56th session, the Committee examined two other communications and declared them inadmissible. Since the Optional Protocol entered into force, the Committee has registered 8 communications, 5 of which are currently pending. The Committee will continue to examine these communications in its next sessions.
The activities under the Optional Protocol increasingly require extra time and effort from our Committee. For this reason, as well as the recognition of the great responsibility entrusted upon it by States parties, in its 54th session, our Committee decided to increase the composition of the Working group on communications to 6 members. In addition to the hours devoted by the Committee’s Plenary to examine communications under the Optional Protocol, the Working Group met on 8 occasions outside the Plenary last year to discuss issues related to the communications received, and to the Committee’s working methods.