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For Human Rights Day on 10 December – Pledge to uphold freedoms, UN human rights experts urge States

Human Rights Committee and Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights urge universal ratification of international treaties

GENEVA (8 December 2015) – UN experts have urged all States to ratify two key human rights treaties that celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2016, as a concrete commitment to the freedoms enshrined in the texts.

The experts’ call comes as the UN Human Rights Office prepares to launch a year-long campaign to promote and raise awareness of the two treaties – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

The treaties were adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 1966 and have to date been ratified by 168 and 164 States respectively – eight States have ratified only one Covenant and 27 States have ratified neither*.

“The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, set out the inalienable rights of all human beings. In the half century since the Covenants were adopted, many countries have changed their laws and policies, and the lives of countless people have improved, but the pressing challenges of our age show the continued relevance of the treaties and the need to respect them,” said Fabian Salvioli, Chair of the Human Rights Committee.

“States should show the absolute commitment of the international community to human rights by achieving universal ratification of the Covenants for the 50th anniversary,” he added.

“We call on States to protect and promote all human rights, and for those that are not parties to the two Covenants, to ratify them as a matter of utmost importance. Governments need to manage their economies but a financial crisis should not be an excuse to overturn economic, social and cultural rights,” said Walid Sadi, Chair of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“The two Covenants together are a main pillar of the human rights system and the foundation for the enjoyment of all rights,” he stressed.

The campaign by the UN Human Rights Office is entitled “Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always.” It focuses on the timeless themes of rights and freedom, in particular freedom from fear, freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom from want, and the work that continues to secure and ensure them.

More information on “Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always,” campaign:

The Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are composed of international independent experts who monitor how States are implementing the ICCPR and the ICESCR respectively.

For more information and media requests, please contact: Liz Throssell / 41 22 917 9466 / 41 79 752 0488

*Check which countries have ratified the Covenants and the other main international human rights treaties:

More information on the Human Rights Committee: Click here to view

More information on the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Click here to view

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