Ireland to sign the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant06 March 2012
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D., and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter T.D., today announced that Ireland will sign, subject to ratification, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The Tánaiste said:
"The Government has taken a decision that Ireland will sign the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The Optional Protocol, once in force, will provide for a complaints procedure for individuals who believe their economic, social and cultural rights have been violated. I am delighted that Ireland is in a position to support the Optional Protocol and to help strengthen UN human rights protection mechanisms.”
Minister Shatter added:
“This Government is deeply committed to the protection and promotion of human rights and our Programme for Government clearly states our goal of forging a new Ireland, based on fairness and equality. To do this in the most meaningful and effective way, we are constantly reviewing and improving our human rights and equality infrastructure.
The complaints mechanism established by the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR is in keeping with the spirit of the many independent complaints, monitoring and inspection bodies that are currently in place in Ireland. In signing this Optional Protocol, we continue to affirm our determination to achieve full respect for human rights in practice.”
The Optional Protocol will establish a mechanism that will enable individuals or groups of individuals to submit a complaint to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights regarding alleged violations of their economic, social and cultural rights. All domestic remedies must first be exhausted before a complaint can be submitted.
Note for Editors:
To date thirty nine States have signed the Optional Protocol including nine European Union member states – Belgium, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Seven States have ratified the Optional Protocol – Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mongolia and Spain. The Optional Protocol will come into force three months after ten States have ratified it. As only seven States have ratified the Optional Protocol so far it has not yet come into force.
The formal signature by Ireland of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will take place in the coming weeks at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Ratification of the Optional Protocol is a separate step and will be considered in due course.