Economic, social and cultural rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, encompasses civil and political rights, as well as economic, social and cultural rights. The declaration is not legally binding, but it serves as a common standard of achievement for all people and all nations.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted in 1966, expanded the rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and, as a convention, it carries the force of international law. It stages all peoples' right to:

  • self-determination
  • disposal of their natural wealth and resources
  • work
  • social security
  • education
  • health
  • adequate standard of living
  • participation in cultural life.

The monitoring body and optional protocol

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, CESCR monitors implementation of the Convention by the State Parties.

In addition to the reporting procedure, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which entered into force on 5th May 2013, provides the Committee competence to receive and consider communications from individuals claiming that their rights under the Covenant have been violated.

Special rapporteurs

The Commission on Human Rights established Special rapporteurs or independent experts to examine, monitor and report on economic, social and cultural rights worldwide. This mechanism of special rapporteurs is part of the Human Rights Council's Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.

More on UN and economic, social and cultural rights

  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: In Swedish - In English.
  • The documents from the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights carry the following symbols:

E/C.12/-

Economic and Social Council. Committee no 12 = Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Ex. E/C.12/2002/11

Economic and Social Council. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Year 2002. Document no 11.

Human Rights, conventions and declaration

UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases

  • United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
  • UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
  • ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
  • Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
  • Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
    • a list of all documents
    • a comprehensive subject index
    • an index to speeches
    • a voting chart of resolutions
  • United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.