Will Consider Reports of Luxembourg, Brazil, New Zealand, Iceland and Israel

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will meet at the Palais des Nations in Geneva (conference room XXV) from 5 to 23 May 2003 to examine measures taken by Luxembourg, Brazil, New Zealand, Iceland and Israel to comply with the standards of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Those five countries are among the 146 States parties to the treaty, which entered into force in 1976 and which recognizes, among other things, the rights to work, to form and join trade unions, to social security, to the widest possible protection and assistance for the family, to an adequate standard of living, to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, and to an education.

In acceding to the treaty, States agree to submit periodic reports to the Committee on how they give effect to the provisions of the Covenant. The panel evaluates the reports and makes observations and recommendations on improving the promotion and protection of the rights enshrined in the Covenant.

At the opening of the session, the Committee will elect from among its members a Chairperson, three Vice-Chairpersons and a Rapporteur, and will adopt its agenda. It will then discuss other substantive issues arising in the implementation of the Covenant, an exercise during which it is scheduled to hear from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

On Tuesday, 6 May, the Committee will hold a follow up to the day of general discussion on article 3 of the Covenant concerning equality between men and women in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. It will discuss a draft general comment on article 3 of the International Covenant.

Committee's Concluding Observations and Recommendations on the Last Reports Submitted by Luxembourg, New Zealand, Iceland and Israel


When the Committee examined the second periodic report of Israel in November 1998, it noted among positive factors the enactment in 1995 of the National Health Insurance Law which provided for primary health care and ensured equal and adequate health services for each citizen and permanent resident of Israel. The Committee noted that Israel's emphasis on its security concerns, including its policies on closures, had hampered the realization of economic, social and cultural rights within Israel and the occupied territories. Among other things, the Committee requested the State party to provide additional information on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights in the occupied territories; called upon the State party to ensure equality of treatment of all Israeli citizens in relation to all Covenant rights; and it urged the State party to respect the right to self-determination as recognized in article 1 (2) of the Covenant, which provided that "in no way may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence". Closure restricted the movement of people and goods, cutting off access to external markets and to income derived from employment and livelihood.

After the Committee reviewed the additional information it had requested in August 2001, it deplored Israel's refusal to report on the occupied territories and the State party's position that the Covenant does not apply to "areas that are not subject to its sovereign territory and jurisdiction". It expressed deep concern about the State party's continuing gross violations of economic, social and cultural rights in the occupied territories, especially the severe measures adopted by the State party to restrict the movement of civilians between points within and outside the occupied territories, severing their access to food, water, health care, education and work. The Committee urged the State party to exercise its powers and responsibilities to put an end to the violence, the loss of human lives and the restrictions imposed on the movement of civilians between points within and outside the occupied territories.


International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The General Assembly adopted and opened the Covenant for signature, ratification and accession in 1966. It entered into force on 3 January 1976.

Article 1 of the Covenant states that the right to self-determination is universal and calls upon States to promote the realization and respect of that right. Article 3 reaffirms the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all human rights and enjoins States to make that principle a reality. Article 5 provides safeguards against the destruction or undue limitation of any human right or fundamental freedom, and against misinterpretation of any provision of the Covenant as a means of justifying infringement of a right or freedom or its restriction to a greater extent than provided in the Covenant. It also prevents States from limiting rights already enjoyed within their territories on the ground that such rights are not recognized, or recognized to a lesser extent, in the Covenant.

Articles 6 to 15 recognize the right to work; to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work; to form and join trade unions; to social security, including social insurance; to the widest possible protection and assistance for the family, mothers, children and younger persons; to an adequate standard of living; to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; to an education and to take part in cultural life.

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Economic and Social Council established the Committee in 1985. Elected by the Economic and Social Council by secret ballot from a list of persons nominated by State parties to the Covenant, its 18 members are human-rights experts serving in their personal capacity.

The Committee is composed of the following Experts: Clement Atangana (Cameroon), Rocio Barahona Riera (Costa Rica), Virginia Bonoan-Dandan (Philippines), Maria Virginia Bras Gomes (Portugal), Dumitru Ceausu (Romania), Abdessatar Grissa (Tunisia), Chokila Iyer (India), Azzouz Kerdoun (Algeria),Yuri Kolosov (the Russian Federation), Giorgio Malinverni (Switzerland), Jaime Marchán Romero (Ecuador), Sergei Martynov (Belarus), Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay (Mauritius), Kenneth Osborne Rattray (Jamaica), Eibe Riedel (Germany), Walid M. Sa'di (Jordan), Philippe Texier (France), and Alvaro Tirado Mejia (Colombia).

States Parties to the Covenant

The Covenant has been ratified or acceded to by 146 States: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Provisional Timetable for Consideration of Reports

Wednesday, 7 May 2003

Morning Luxembourg, third periodic report (E/1994/104/Add.24)

Afternoon Luxembourg (continued)

Thursday, 8 May 2003

Morning Luxembourg (continued)

Afternoon Brazil, initial report (E/1990/5/Add.53)

Friday, 9 May 2003

Morning Brazil (continued)

Afternoon Brazil (continued)

Monday, 12 May 2003

Morning New Zealand, second periodic report (E/1990/6/Add.33)

Afternoon New Zealand (continued)

Tuesday, 13 May 2003

Morning New Zealand (continued)

Afternoon Iceland, third periodic report (E/1994/104/Add.25)

Wednesday, 14 May 2003

Morning Iceland (continued)

Afternoon Iceland (continued)

Thursday, 15 May 2003

Morning Israel, second periodic report (E/1990/6/Add.32)

Afternoon Israel (continued)

Friday, 16 May 2003

Morning Israel (continued)

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