Monitoring human rights: challenges for the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

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Event details

Lecture

Date & time

Wednesday 13 May 2015
5.30pm–6.30pm

Venue

Theatrette, Sir Roland Wilson Building (120), McCoy Circuit, ANU
ANU Canberra

Speaker

Virginia Bras-Gomes

Contacts

Emma Larking
+61 (0)2 6125 1513

The Centre for International Governance and Justice and RegNet are delighted to host this lecture by UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee Member, Maria Virgínia Brás Gomes, as part of RegNet’s ‘Distinguished Speaker’ lecture series.

Monitoring compliance of States parties with the obligations they have voluntarily accepted upon ratification of human rights treaties is a challenging role for treaty bodies. Monitoring the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights is even more challenging given the nature of these rights and the resources needed.

Virginia’s point of departure is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), one of the 9 core international human rights instruments, ratified by 164 States parties, that sets an internationally agreed framework for the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights, and the work of the Committee in charge of monitoring compliance of States parties with the Covenant. 

The present backdrop for the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights offers food for thought. The crumbling of the Welfare State,  the uneven sharing of costs and distribution of benefits of globalization,  and various other trends, such as economic setbacks, unemployment  and underemployment; financial, food and climate crises; land grabbing and mega development projects with displacement and forced evictions; free trade and investment agreements; and, more generally, the pursuit of growth at the cost of social and environmental degradation and the loss of national decision-making power, have had a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged groups.

Efforts to rethink and reorganise the role of the Government are far from being successful and States are still grappling with the need to balance long-term financial sustainability concerns with the fulfilment of their overall function of ensuring an acceptable level of protection to all their citizens, especially to the most vulnerable.

Do States accept that they have obligations to realize economic, social and cultural rights for everyone living under their jurisdiction? Do they fully realize that they have immediate obligations of non-discrimination and equality between men and women? How far do they comply with their core obligations towards the most disadvantaged and maginalised? What has been the impact of the on-going economic and financial crisis on maximum available resources for progressive realisation? What are the contemporary challenges for the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights? What are the responsibilities of non-state actors?

These are some of the issues Virginia would like to discuss during this presentation; she looks forward to a lively discussion and exchange.

Born in Goa, India, Maria Virgínia Brás Gomes is a senior social policy adviser in Portugal’s Ministry of Solidarity, Employment and Social Security and UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee Member. For more detailed information, view Virginia’s RegNet profile here.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet