In what some called a great step towards the full realization of human rights, delegates to the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approved a draft resolution by consensus today that would have the General Assembly adopt a new Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which would establish a communications procedure for alleged violations of rights under the Covenant.
Also today, the Committee began its consideration of a draft resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, rejecting seven proposed amendments to the text. It also approved three other draft resolutions, by consensus, on questions relating to refugees, the right to self-determination and on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. A draft resolution on the inadmissibility of certain practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance was also approved, by a recorded vote of 122 in favour, 1 against (United States), and 54 abstentions (Annex I).
The new Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was the result of five years of intensive work, followed by intensive consultations, according to Portugal’s representative, the main sponsor of the draft resolution on the issue. Its adoption would be significant in that it would reset the balance between economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights, which already has a similar individual complaint mechanism in place. The text before the Committee was a good compromise, based on years of negotiations. While he understood that some States were not in a position to become party to the instrument at the current time, he expressed hope that no obstacles would be put in place for those that wished to have such a mechanism.
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