CLC unpacks state obligation under the ICESCR

It is clear that South Africa needs to urgently ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The ratification would strengthen the domestic protection of economic, social and cultural rights in South Africa through policy, legislation (laws) and jurisprudence (decisions of court).

This was what up during a seminar on State’s obligations in relation to implementation and reporting under the ICESCR and its Optional Protocol, hosted by the Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape on 28 March 2014 in Cape Town. This was part of the civil society campaign to advocate for the ratification of the ICESCR and its Optional Protocol by the South African Government.

Since the announcement in October 2012, that South Africa would ratify the ICESCR, which South Africa signed on 3 October 1994, civil society has followed with interest the events that have unfolded.

The director of the Community Law Centre, Prof Jaap de Visser, in his opening remark, welcomed all participants to the seminar. He recalled how the civil society campaign to advocate for the ratification of the ICESCR was ‘born’ in response to the failures of the South African Government to ratify the ICESCR, despite having signed it in 1994. He highlighted on the importance of state accountability especially by office bearers.

Dr. Ebenezer Durojaye, the project coordinator and senior researcher of the Socio-Economic Rights Project at the Community Law Centre, revealed that although South Africa has an obligation to report regularly under human rights treaties it has ratified, South Africa’s reports to treaty monitoring bodies have often been delayed. He noted that monitoring the implementation of human rights treaties and compliance with human rights obligations is relevant in ensuring enjoyment of rights.

The seminar was attended by civil society representatives, community based organisations, government officials and academics.

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