See on UN Protection of Rights
"A Positive Step Toward a Fair Social and International
GENEVA, JUNE 6, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the
English-language address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the
Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in
Geneva, gave Wednesday to a working group of the 8th
Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council. The talk
addressed an Optional Protocol to the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
* * *
The Delegation of the Holy See associates itself with
previous speakers to thank the Chairperson of the
Open-ended Working Group on an Optional Protocol to the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR), Catarina de Albuquerque for her efforts
and firmness to carry out her work.
In the fight against poverty, especially extreme
poverty, the international community has set for itself
specific objectives like the Millennium Development
Goals, which are an important road leading to a more
universal development. The various "instruments of the
United Nations and its specialized agencies concerning
the integral development of the human being, economic
and social progress and development of all peoples"
(Declaration on the Right to Development, Res. 41/128 of
4 December of 1986, Preamble, 5) sustain, in fact, a
culture of justice and global solidarity.
The ICESCR serves as a major framework for the
achievement of these goals. The steps that have been
taken to increase its effectiveness through new
mechanisms are a sign of the continue determination to
look at the implementation of all human rights in a
The universal value of human dignity requires the
promotion and protection of all human rights without
distinction of any kind. The new Optional Protocol of
the ICESCR, therefore, represents a positive step
towards a fair social and international order.
Historically economic, social and cultural rights were
considered too vague to be justiciable and a base for an
individual complaint procedure. In a way they were
looked at as second-rate human rights. Now the text
presented at the 8th Session of the Human Rights
Council, is a good compromise. The new Optional
Protocol, through an Inquiry and Communication system,
gives the possibility to individuals and groups to seek
justice from violations, and it reinforces existing
mechanisms for an effective monitoring of the activity
The experience of other Treaty bodies shows that these
procedures can help to clarify and implement the
normative content of a particular provision; to lead
monitoring systems to a more focused and disciplined
legal approach; to concentrate on a concrete violation
of human rights, keeping in mind that coherence is
needed to avoid their fragmentation.
While different approaches to human rights can emerge,
in the light of the "inherent dignity and of the equal
and inalienable rights of all members of the human
family" (UDHR, Preamble, 1) it would be possible to
arrive at a fair agreement. In this way, differences
should open the way to a more dynamic recognition,
promotion and protection of human rights and not stifle
their universal implementation. In this connection,
there is a need to adopt a comprehensive and holistic
approach under which all human rights would be covered
and reservations should not be permitted.
The new Protocol will fill a gap in the international
human rights system. However, our work is not finished
until every person will enjoy the right "to a standard
of living adequate for the health and well being of
himself and of his family" (UDHR, article 25).
Thank You, Mr. President.