by IWRAW Asia Pacific on the question of the Optional Protocol to
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
statement was read out by Maria Herminia Graterol, on behalf of
the IWRAW Asia Pacific Team, at the Commission on Human Rights 59th
Session (Agenda item 10), 18 April 2003.
Thank you madam
chair. My name is Maria Herminia Graterol and I speak on behalf
of International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia-Pacific, an organisation
committed to working for effective implementation of human rights
In our view,
the resolution on the mandate of the open ended group for the Optional
Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR), is of critical importance as it will acknowledge
the struggles of individual victims and survivors. The Optional
Protocol is a means for recognising violations of human rights that,
until now, have remained unnoticed and will provide states with
tools to end this impunity.
We support the
Commission in its effort to move closer to the actual and practical
recognition that all our human rights are indeed, indivisible. As
your citizens, we are here to support the setting up of the Open-Ended
Working Group for the creation of an Optional Protocol to the International
Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. We welcome the
joint statement made by the International Commission of Jurists
and Amnesty International as well as the statements made by OMCT
and the Colombian Commission of Jurists.
As the global
community moves towards the realisation of the principle of indivisibility
of all human rights, the initiation of a process for the formulation
of an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural indicates the commitment of member states of
the UN to actualise the principle of equal protection in a way that
encompasses all dimensions of human rights.
In our view
the drafting of the present Optional Protocol process must be informed
by the discussions that took place during the drafting of the Optional
Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women (OP-CEDAW), which raised and resolved concerns regarding
justiciability and indivisibility of human rights. As such, this
process is a continuation of a commitment that started with the
Given the commitment
to indivisibility of rights made in Vienna in 1993, the global community
cannot, at present, claim hierarchy of rights in the context of
mechanisms for protection. States must acknowledge that the protection
and promotion of the rights of all people are interlinked to upholding
the principles of non-discrimination and equality already contained
in most Constitutions. The Optional Protocol will be a clear contribution
by the international community to the process of ensuring that domestic
mechanisms live up to this promise.
IWRAW Asia Pacific
is based in the South and works mainly with partners from the South.
We strongly believe that the Optional Protocols are mechanisms for
the implementation of human rights which facilitate constructive
dialogue not only between states and the UN Treaty bodies but also
between citizens and their states. The critical value of the optional
protocols is that these are mechanisms for ensuring access to justice
to the marginalised and thereby contribute to meaningful changes
that translate into meaningful changes at the national level.
We are hopeful
the Commission will decide to establish an Open-Ended Working Group
which is inclusive and transparent and gives space to addressing
actual obstacles faced by individuals unable to access remedies.
More specifically we would like to make the following recommendations
to the open-ended working group:
1. That in terms
of the process it should bear in mind the discussions and the principles
that went into the drafting of the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW
Convention, specifically recalling that violations of economic,
social and cultural rights have dimensions that often intersect
with race, gender, class and other status.
2. That the
Optional Protocol must enable the Committee to respond to the experiences
of violations faced by the marginalised. In order to do so, it must
bring together procedures that provide for communications and enables
the Committee to conduct inquiry into grave and systematic violations.
3. The Open-Ended
Working Group must also bear in mind that procedures must be means
for providing tools for the Committee to review and asses situations
in enhance the capacity of the states to provide redress and respond
to claims and needs through domestic mechanisms, thereby ensuring
justice for all.
Thank you Madam
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