op-icescr and Economy & Society

An op-icescr coalition of NGOs: Major human rights instruments have a procedure for examining complaints of unresolved violations. This system has helped human rights violations victims get redress, allowed States Parties to undertake appropriate measures to prevent the recurrence of the violations, and enriched the understanding of the rights themselves. But there is no such system under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Thus in 1990, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (Committee) started discussing the possibility of drafting an Optional Protocol to the ICESCR (OP-ICESCR) that would create this system. This was followed by the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action that encourages the continued examination of optional protocols to the ICESCR. In 1997, the Committee submitted a 1996 draft Optional Protocol to the Commission on Human Rights for consideration. In 2002, the Commission created the ICESCR/Optional Protocol Working Group with a mandate to consider options regarding the elaboration of an Optional Protocol and to make specific recommendations on the issue.

The need for the OP-ICESCR
There are existing complaint procedures at the international level dealing with alleged violations of economic, social and cultural rights. They include the following:

The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW);
The International Labor Organization (ILO) special procedure with respect to freedom of association;
The UNESCO Complaints Procedure in the field of any of the rights which fall within UNESCO’s field of competence, i.e., education, science, culture and information;
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, and the Convention Against Torture (CAT).
Given their specific focus, access to these procedures is limited either by the rights covered or the qualification of victims who can lodge a complaint.

It is, for example, questionable to what extent the work of the Committee on Freedom of Association at the International Labour Organisation and the UNESCO procedures can really be defined as com-plaints procedures open to all victims of violations of human rights. As an example, the ILO procedure is only open to trade union representatives, and the scope of the rights covered by the UNESCO procedure is limited to alleged human rights violations related to education, science, culture and information.

Similarly, the scope of the economic, social and cultural rights covered by the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR is limited to issue related to freedom of association and slavery. Finally, limitations regarding a complaint under the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW… respond[s] … to the gender … criteria preventing … universal[access to this procedure] . See the rest of this article at this link.

The pattern ’social equity’, found in Conservation Economy.net, looks as follows: Wealth and income inequities within the United States, and between the United States and other nations, continue to increase rapidly. The average income disparity between a line worker and CEO in a large corporation is now more than four hundred to one.

Social Equity implies fair access to livelihood, education, and resources; full participation in the political and cultural life of the Community; and self-determination in meeting Fundamental Needs. As Martin Luther King observed, “where there is injustice for one, there is injustice for all.” Social Equity is the cornerstone of Social Capital, which cannot be maintained for a few at the expense of the many. Increased equity results in decreased spending on prisons, security enforcement, welfare, and social services. It also creates new potential markets.

Inequities magnify the challenge of creating A Conservation Economy in several ways. Those who are marginalized may be tempted to eat into reserves of Natural Capital and Social Capital to meet immediate needs, while those with abundant choices may seek conspicuous forms of consumption which – unintentionally – have the same depleting effect. Current toxic production activities are extremely unjust, with increased health impacts along racial and class lines. Sustainable Materials Cycles which do not use airsheds and watersheds as pollution sinks have significant favorable equity implications.

Social Equity leaves plenty of room for individuals, households, and communities to seek the mix of economic, social, and ecological assets that best reflects their values. It critically depends on diverse Local Economies that provide a wide range of work options for those of all ages and skills. Social Equity is enhanced by forms of ownership and community-based financial institutions that build Local Assets. It further requires that historical inequities be addressed and compensated fairly through a Just Transition.

Social Equity is promoted by Human-Scale Neighborhoods that provide Shelter for All. Neighborhoods that offer a range of housing options, a mix of uses, and access to a variety of jobs, are often intergenerational and diverse. Such neighborhoods are encouraged by regional tax revenue sharing, which promotes an equitable distribution of tax revenues between the core city, inner suburbs, and rapidly developing outer suburbs. This prevents disinvestment in neighborhoods, improving the overall livability and safety of Compact Towns and Cities.

Over time, True Cost Pricing will improve Social Equity by assigning prices which accurately reflect social costs and benefits. This will allow practices that are socially just to compete effectively in the marketplace, including living-wage compensation for workers.

Promote diverse local economies that provide a wide range of employment opportunities. Build local assets that broadly distribute the wealth of a community. Encourage human-scale neighborhoods that provide shelter and community for all. Work towards a tax shift that fully values social costs and benefits.


And the pattern ‘civic society‘: As wealth and political power become increasingly concentrated, it becomes difficult for human-scale democracy to flourish.

Civic Society is that component of social life that falls outside the domain of governments and commerce, yet is concerned with building Community. In order to flourish, civic society requires informal “third place” meeting spaces (outside both home and work), non-governmental organizations, and independent media.

One significant role of civic society is to maintain a barrier between commerce and government. In the absence of major campaign finance reform, citizens must pay constant attention in order to resist the undue influence of wealth on politics. Immediate and democratic participation in shaping the built environment, land-use, taxation and spending, laws, and policies is intrinsic to A Conservation Economy. It is vital that this participation be provided through spontaneous channels and not just through formal governmental processes.

Non-profit organizations, associations, trade unions, churches, bookstores, cafes, and related community assets play a critical role in hosting and shaping civic society. They provide ongoing ways for citizens to engage in the great conversations about society’s meaning and direction. Such dialogue allows fundamental values to be explored and profound new directions to emerge. It forms an important counterpoint to both the formal governance process and the expression of immediate consumer values in the marketplace.

Independent media – including newspapers, radio and television stations, and websites – provide additional communication channels for civic society. They disseminate ideas to much broader audiences and permit ongoing critical examination.

A Conservation Economy promotes civic society through its emphasis on local control and accountability and Social Equity. Capital that is rooted locally is responsive to local concerns. Citizens with a sense of Security whose Fundamental Needs are met are more likely to shape civic society. In turn, a conservation economy depends on an ongoing transformation in values that can only result from meaningful public debate.

Promote the gathering places, non-governmental organizations, and independent media that give civic society full expression. Honor civic society as a barrier between and alternative to both government and commerce.



Indonesia Beyond Suharto: Polity, Economy, Society, Transition, Edited by Donald K. Emmerson, Paper ISBN: 1-56324-890-5;


Demographical profile of the Iranian community in the United States based on the 1990 US census;


Economy and Society;


Economic & Social Research Council with interesting datas;

Conservation Economy.net with its 57 patterns, as the pattern ’social equity’;

OECD and this link about aging society;

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