Minister Sherlock leads Irish delegation to review on economic, social and cultural rights in Geneva08 June 2015
The Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North-South Co-operation, Mr Seán Sherlock T.D. will lead a Government delegation to Geneva for Ireland’s third periodic review by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Monday 8 June 2015. The review will be held over two days, concluding at lunchtime on Tuesday 9 June.
As a State party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Ireland is obliged to undergo periodic review by the Committee, to assess how well the State is progressing in the realisation of human rights relating to work, social security, family life, participation in cultural life, and access to housing, food, water, health care and education.
Speaking ahead of the review, Minister Sherlock said:
“Economic, social and cultural rights are the building blocks for human dignity and prosperity. We are committed to building a society that is founded upon equality, where diversity in culture, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation and gender identity is celebrated and safely enjoyed by all.
“When this Government received its mandate in 2011, the crisis and recession that the State faced was unprecedented. It had been devastating. Economically and socially, this Government has had to rebuild from the ground up; from a situation where we were losing thousands of jobs a month to reaching our target of creating 100,000 jobs ahead of schedule. We have restored the economy and are rebuilding a fairer and more prosperous society to hand back to the Irish people in 2016.
“It has not been easy, and the task is not yet completed, but since taking office in 2011, the Government has been determined to fulfil the mandate given to us by the Irish people to repair the economy and public finances, create jobs and give hope and confidence to our citizens of a better future. Undoubtedly, considerable sacrifices were made by all citizens during the financial crisis, and it posed challenges in terms of our progressive realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.
“Our approach to budgetary cuts was not to apply blanket reductions to all areas of spending, but rather to reform expenditure in a way that continued to protect our society’s most vulnerable people to the greatest extent possible within our available resources.
“This Government has maintained core welfare payments throughout the crisis, which set a strong basic standard of living available to everyone in society. We have also increased spending on social housing and have recently announced an enhanced package of measures aimed at helping as many people and families as possible who are in mortgage arrears to remain in their homes.
“Much has been done to re-build our country and we are beginning to see the results of our efforts. Economic growth has returned and unemployment figures are decreasing. However, a growing economy is not just an end in itself – it is the means by which we will improve living standards, deliver better public services to the Irish people, and build an equal society. We look forward to engaging with the Committee on the progress that Ireland has made, and the work still ongoing, to make this aspiration a reality.”
Ireland’s delegation to the Review is made up of officials representing Government Departments. Irish civil society organisations, and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, have made submissions to the Committee in the lead up to this review.
Following the review, the Committee will issue a set of concluding observations, outlining positive aspects, principal subjects of concern and the Committee’s recommendations on how to address challenges faced by Ireland in the implementation of the Covenant.
8 June 2015
Note for editors:
•The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is the main legally binding treaty protecting economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to work; the right to social security; the right to an adequate standard or living, including food, housing, and the highest attainable standard of health; the right to education; and the right to participate in cultural life. ICESCR requires States to take steps to the maximum of their available resources to achieve progressively the full realization of economic, social and cultural rights.
•The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties. Ireland signed ICESCR on 1 October 1973, and ratified it on 8 December 1989. Ireland’s first periodic review took place in May 1999, and the second periodic review took place in May 2002. The Committee’s concluding observations are expected to be posted on the website of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 22 June 2015.