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For those of you monitoring and advocating for economic, social and cultural rights in the UK, this update is for you! The session on economic, social and cultural rights included important updates on tools you can use to monitor the State’s duties relating to land, and treatment and vaccines.  

From 28 September to 16 October 2020, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) held its 68th session. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the session was not held in-person in Geneva, but held virtually online.  

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is the main international instrument which recognises economic, social and cultural rights. This instrument is called a treaty, which is legally binding in the UK.  

ICESCR has an independent body to monitor and help countries implement human rights at the national level. ICESCR has a monitoring body of (currently) 17 experts called CESCR. 

General Comments 

CESCR issues authoritative statements about the meaning of the different rights set out in ICESCR. They are called “general comments”. 

In its 68th session, CESCR discussed the first draft of a General Comment on covenant obligations as they relate to land, which it hopes to publish in the coming months. 

It is likely that there will be an opportunity for a wide variety of stakeholders to provide feedback on the draft of this General Comment in early 2021. 

CESCR is also discussing ways to proceed with a General Comment on sustainable development and economic social and cultural rights.  

Access to Vaccines and Treatment 

CESCR is going to be writing a statement on access to vaccines and treatment. This will be a useful point of reference for those monitoring and advocating access to both during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

CESCR’s Next Session 

CESCR’s next session, its 69th session, is scheduled to be held from 15 February to 5 March 2021. There is no decision yet as to whether the session will be in-person or on-line. 

For more information on the rights and obligations contained in ICESCR or the monitoring work of CESCR, contact our Campaigns and Advocacy Lead, Misha Nayak-Oliver