UN panel monitoring economic, social and cultural rights to open 2003 session

UN panel monitoring economic, social and cultural rights to open 2003 session

The expert United Nations body monitoring worldwide efforts to ensure that life's basic necessities - work, food, housing, health care, education and culture - are adequately and equitably available to everyone, will open its first session for 2003 next week in Geneva.

The 18-member UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which monitors the International Covenant designed to promote and protect the right of peoples freely to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, will open the first of its two annual three-week sessions on Monday.

The Committee is expected to examine measures taken by Luxembourg, Brazil, New Zealand, Iceland and Israel to comply with the standards of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The panel will evaluate the reports presented by those States and make observations and recommendations on improving the promotion and protection of the rights enshrined in the Covenant.

Those five countries are among the 146 States parties to the treaty, which entered into force in 1976 and which recognizes, among other things, the rights to work, to form and join trade unions, to social security, to the widest possible protection and assistance for the family, to an adequate standard of living, to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, and to an education.

At the opening of the session, the Committee will elect from among its members a Chairperson, three Vice-Chairpersons and a Rapporteur, and will adopt its agenda. It will then discuss other substantive issues arising in the implementation of the Covenant, an exercise during which it is scheduled to hear from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

On Tuesday, the Committee will hold a follow-up to the day of general discussion on article 3 of the Covenant - concerning equality between men and women in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. It will discuss a draft general comment on article 3 of the International Covenant.