Amnesty International Toronto Organization

Regional Meeting, October 16, 2004


ICESC - a précis


What are these rights?


The first is the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to gain his or her living by work which he freely chooses or accepts. It also includes the obligation of governments to provide vocational guidance and training, and “techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment…”


Not far behind is the right to get paid, a fair wage, equal remuneration for work of equal value, a decent living, safe and healthy working conditions, and, oh yes, the right to rest and leisure, paid vacations and paid public holidays.


We also have the right to form trade unions and labour federations and, yes Virginia, the right to strike (unless you’re in the police or the military.)


Social security, including social insurance, is listed as a fundamental human right.


The widest possible protection and assistance is accorded to the family, which is recognized as the fundamental group unit of society. Marriage must be entered into freely by the partners. Special protection is accorded to mothers and to children. Children must be protected from exploitation. Child labour is prohibited.


The right to an adequate standard of living is recognized, and the right to freedom from hunger.


We have the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This requires provision for the healthy development of the child, the improvement of environmental and industrial hygiene, the prevention, treatment and control of disease, and the provision of medical care.


Everyone has the right to education, which is to be “directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Primary education shall be compulsory, secondary education generally available, and higher education equally accessible to all. This requires schools, teachers, and a system of fellowships. Parents have the right to have their children educated in conformity with their own religious and moral convictions.


Finally, we all have the right to take part in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. Authors and inventors have the right to enjoy the moral and material benefits of their creations. Governments are responsible for the conservation, development and diffusion of science and culture, and for the protection of academic freedom.


The International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights - a précis






Recognition of the inherent dignity & of the equal & inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice & peace in the world


Part I


Article 1


1. peoples self determination - freely determine their political status and feely pursue their economic, social & cultural development

2. natural wealth & resources

3. federations - territories


Part II


Article 2


1. legislative measures

2. no discrimination

3. developing countries


Article 3


equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of esc rights


Article 4


limitations - promoting the general welfare in a democratic society


Article 5


1. no destruction of rights

2. not recognized in present covenant


Part III


Article 6


1. work which he freely chooses

2. vocational guidance and training - steady esc development - full & productive employment


Article 7


(a)(i) fair wages - equal pay

(a)(ii) a decent living

(b) safe & healthy working conditions

(c) opportunity to be promoted

(d) rest, leisure, limitation of working hours, holidays with pay, public holidays


Article 8


1.(a) trade unions

1.(b) federations

1.(c) function freely - national security or public order

1.(d) right to strike

2. armed forces, police, administration of the state

3. ILO 1948 Convention concerning Freedom of Association & Protection of the Right to Organize


Article 9


Social security, including social insurance


Article 10


1. protection & assistance to the family - fundamental group unit of society - establishment & dependant children - marriage with the free consent of the intending spouses

2. mothers before & after childbirth - paid leave or leave with adequate social security

3. protection & assistance of children & young persons - child labour punishable by law


Article 11


1. adequate standard of living - food, clothing and housing - continuous improvement - international co-operation based on free consent

2.(a) production, conservation & distribution of food - principles of nutrition - agrarian systems - efficient development & utilization

2.(b) equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need


Article 12


1. highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

2.(a) stillborn rate and infant mortality - healthy development of the child

2.(b) environmental & industrial hygeine

2.(c) prevention, treatment & control of diseases

2.(d) medical service & medical attention to all in the event of sickness


Article 13


1. education - full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity - respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms - participate effectively in a free society - understanding, tolerance & friendship - further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace

2.(a) primary education compulsory & free to all

2.(b) secondary education generally available & accessible - progressive introduction of free education

2.(c) higher education equally accessible to all - on the basis of capacity - progressive introduction of free education

2.(d) fundamental education

2.(e) schools - fellowship system - material conditions of teaching staff shall be continuously improved

3. liberty of parents to choose schools of religious and moral education for their children in conformity with their own convictions

4. liberty of individuals & bodies to establish & direct educational institutions


Article 14


detailed plan for introduction of compulsory primary education, free of charge


Article 15


1.(a) take part in cultural life

1.(b) enjoy the benefits of scientific progress

1.(c) moral & material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author

2. conservation, development & diffusion of science & culture

3. freedom indispensable for scientific research & creative activity

4. international contacts & co-operation


Part IV


reports - UNESCO - Human Rights Commission - recommendations


Part V


signature - ratification - accession - amendment