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wHat are Economic, Social AND CULTURAL Rights?

…and why do they matter?

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 recognised in international human rights law as the essential conditions needed to live a life of dignity and freedom. They include the right to work and workers’ rights, social security, health, education, food, water, housing, and the right to a healthy environment.

Who has these rights?

All of us. Across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, at local and national levels, public bodies have a legal obligation to incorporate and implement economic and social rights into laws, policies, and practice.

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).

The ICESCR is an international human rights treaty that was ratified by the UK in 1976. ICESCR establishes that we are all entitled to certain human rights: 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 have a legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the rights contained therein.

Find out more

To find out more, you can watch the video below, or download and read our briefing: ‘What are economic and social rights and how are they recognised in international law?’

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