Economic, social and cultural rights
Economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) are the rights of everyday life, for all of us. They include the right to food, water, housing, work and workers’ rights, social security, health, education, and a healthy environment.
What are economic, social and cultural rights?
Economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) are the rights of everyday life, for all of us. They include the right to food, water, housing, work and workers’ rights, social security, health, education, and a healthy environment. The UK Government has a legal obligation to uphold these human rights. But where do these rights come from?
Human rights are recognised in international treaties that the UK was instrumental in bringing to life. One of these treaties is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), an international human rights treaty that was ratified by the UK in 1976. ICESCR establishes that we are all entitled to certain human rights: the right to social security, right to food and housing as part of an adequate standard of living, labour rights, the right to health, education and participation in cultural life. These rights have equal status in international law with civil and political rights, such as freedom of expression or the right to a fair trial.
States that have ratified the ICESCR – including the UK – have a legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfil these rights. But we are living in an uncertain and divided UK in which all human rights are under threat.
ICESCR 7th Periodic review of uk
Over 70 organisations and individuals from across England and Wales have come together to provide evidence for our report to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
What are our rights?
The Government should use all available resources to ensure all people enjoy their economic and social rights. Regressive steps should be a last resort, and only taken if necessary temporary, proportionate, with minimum affect on economic and social rights.
The Government should ensure education is available and equally accessible to all people. This includes eradicating the digital divide, and providing safe conditions for students and teachers.
The Government should ensure all people have access to adequate mental and physical healthcare. This ranges from ensuring healthy development of children to treating and controlling an epidemic. Healthcare is universal and should not be conditional on factors such as income or wealth, or nationality. The Government should end practices such as data sharing.
Want more detail?
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Find out more
Download and read our briefing: ‘What are economic and social rights and how are they recognised in international law?’
Our submissions to UPR and Treaty Body Mechanisms.
What can you do?
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Check our Events page to find out when the next event is.
Showcase your support for the legal recognition of economic and social rights in domestic law by sharing the hashtag #ESRights or #ESCR or #ICESCR and tag @JustFairUK when you are using social media.