A human rights mechanism took effect Sunday that will allow a UN committee to review complaints from people or groups who have exhausted every option for justice in their own country regarding economic, social and cultural rights violations. The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Protocol) [text] requires that after the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Committee) [official website] examines a complaint, it must transit its views, as well as recommendations, to the parties concerned. The state party must then give due consideration to the committee's views and recommendations and submit a written response within six months, setting forth any action it has taken.
The protocol was created to condemn violations of rights to food, adequate housing, education, or health, as is the standard for civil and political rights violations. Uruguay was the tenth required country to ratify the protocol [JURIST report], joining Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mongolia, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay [official profile] has requested that the other 160 nations in the UN also ratify the protocol. Some critics have suggested the opt-in nature for the protocol means that many suspect nations will not be governed by the instrument, leaving those people most in danger of rights abuses with no change in their means to report those abuses.