International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
signed and ratified
signed but not ratified
neither signed nor ratified
|Type||United Nations General Assembly resolution|
|Signed||16 December 1966|
|Location||United Nations Headquarters, New York|
|Effective||3 January 1976|
|Depositary||Secretary-General of the United Nations|
|Languages||French, English, Russian, Chinese, and Spanish|
|International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at Wikisource|
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966, and in force from 3 January 1976. It commits its parties to work toward the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) to individuals, including labour rights and the right to health, the right to education, and the right to an adequate standard of living. As of 2013, the Covenant had 160 parties. A further seven countries, including the United States of America, had signed but not yet ratified the Covenant.
The ICESCR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), including the latter's first and second Optional Protocols.
The Covenant is monitored by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The ICESCR has its roots in the same process that led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A "Declaration on the Essential Rights of Man" had been proposed at the 1945 San Francisco Conference which led to the founding of the United Nations, and the Economic and Social Council was given the task of drafting it. Early on in the process, the document was split into a declaration setting forth general principles of human rights, and a convention or covenant containing binding commitments. The former evolved into the UDHR and was adopted on 10 December 1948.
Drafting continued on the convention, but there remained significant differences between UN members on the relative importance of negative civil and political versus positive economic, social and cultural rights. These eventually caused the convention to be split into two separate covenants, "one to contain civil and political rights and the other to contain economic, social and cultural rights." The two covenants were to contain as many similar provisions as possible, and be opened for signature simultaneously. Each would also contain an article on the right of all peoples to self-determination.
The first document became the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the second the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The drafts were presented to the UN General Assembly for discussion in 1954, and adopted in 1966.
The Covenant follows the structure of the UDHR and ICCPR, with a preamble and thirty-one articles, divided into five parts.
Part 1 (Article 1) recognises the right of all peoples to self-determination, including the right to "freely determine their political status", pursue their economic, social and cultural goals, and manage and dispose of their own resources. It recognises a negative right of a people not to be deprived of its means of subsistence, and imposes an obligation on those parties still responsible for non-self governing and trust territories (colonies) to encourage and respect their self-determination.
Part 2 (Articles 2 – 5) establishes the principle of "progressive realisation" – see below. It also requires the rights be recognised "without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status". The rights can only be limited by law, in a manner compatible with the nature of the rights, and only for the purpose of "promoting the general welfare in a democratic society".
Part 3 (Articles 6 – 15) lists the rights themselves. These include rights to
- work, under "just and favourable conditions", with the right to form and join trade unions (Articles 6, 7, and 8);
- social security, including social insurance (Article 9);
- family life, including paid parental leave and the protection of children (Article 10);
- an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and the "continuous improvement of living conditions" (Article 11);
- health, specifically "the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health" (Article 12);
- education, including free universal primary education, generally available secondary education and equally accessible higher education. This should be directed to "the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity", and enable all persons to participate effectively in society (Articles 13 and 14);
- participation in cultural life (Article 15).
Many of these rights include specific actions which must be undertaken to realise them.
Part 4 (Articles 16 – 25) governs reporting and monitoring of the Covenant and the steps taken by the parties to implement it. It also allows the monitoring body – originally the United Nations Economic and Social Council – now the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – see below – to make general recommendations to the UN General Assembly on appropriate measures to realise the rights (Article 21)
Part 5 (Articles 26 – 31) governs ratification, entry into force, and amendment of the Covenant.
Core provisions 
Principle of progressive realisation 
Article 2 of the Covenant imposes a duty on all parties to
- take steps... to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.
This is known as the principle of "progressive realisation". It acknowledges that some of the rights (for example, the right to health) may be difficult in practice to achieve in a short period of time, and that states may be subject to resource constraints, but requires them to act as best they can within their means.
The principle differs from that of the ICCPR, which obliges parties to "respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction" the rights in that Convention. However, it does not render the Covenant meaningless. The requirement to "take steps" imposes a continuing obligation to work towards the realisation of the rights. It also rules out deliberately regressive measures which impede that goal. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also interprets the principle as imposing minimum core obligations to provide, at the least, minimum essential levels of each of the rights. If resources are highly constrained, this should include the use of targeted programmes aimed at the vulnerable.
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights regards legislation as an indispensable means for realising the rights which is unlikely to be limited by resource constraints. The enacting of anti-discrimination provisions and the establishment of enforceable rights with judicial remedies within national legal systems are considered to be appropriate means. Some provisions, such as anti-discrimination laws, are already required under other human rights instruments, such as the ICCPR.
Labor rights 
Article 6 of the Covenant recognises the right to work, defined as the opportunity of everyone to gain their living by freely chosen or accepted work. Parties are required to take "appropriate steps" to safeguard this right, including technical and vocational training and economic policies aimed at steady economic development and ultimately full employment. The right implies parties must guarantee equal access to employment and protect workers from being unfairly deprived of employment. They must prevent discrimination in the workplace and ensure access for the disadvantaged. The fact that work must be freely chosen or accepted means parties must prohibit forced or child labor.
The work referred to in Article 6 must be decent work. This is effectively defined by Article 7 of the Covenant, which recognises the right of everyone to "just and favourable" working conditions. These are in turn defined as fair wages with equal pay for equal work, sufficient to provide a decent living for workers and their dependants; safe working conditions; equal opportunity in the workplace; and sufficient rest and leisure, including limited working hours and regular, paid holidays.
Article 8 recognises the right of workers to form or join trade unions and protects the right to strike. It allows these rights to be restricted for members of the armed forces, police, or government administrators. Several parties have placed reservations on this clause, allowing it to be interpreted in a manner consistent with their constitutions (e.g., China, Mexico), or extending the restriction of union rights to groups such as firefighters (e.g., Japan).
Article 9 of the Covenant recognizes "the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance." It requires parties to provide some form of social insurance scheme to protect people against the risks of sickness, disability, maternity, employment injury, unemployment or old age; to provide for survivors, orphans, and those who cannot afford health care; and to ensure that families are adequately supported. Benefits from such a scheme must be adequate, accessible to all, and provided without discrimination. The Covenant does not restrict the form of the scheme, and both contributory and non-contributory schemes are permissible (as are community-based and mutual schemes).
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has noted persistent problems with the implementation of this right, with very low levels of access.
Several parties, including France and Monaco, have reservations allowing them to set residence requirements in order to qualify for social benefits. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights permits such restrictions, provided they are proportionate and reasonable.
Right to family life 
Article 10 of the Covenant recognises the family as "the natural and fundamental group unit of society", and requires parties to accord it "the widest possible protection and assistance." Parties must ensure that their citizens are free to establish families and that marriages are freely contracted and not forced. Parties must also provide paid leave or adequate social security to mothers before and after childbirth, an obligation which overlaps with that of Article 9. Finally, parties must take "special measures" to protect children from economic or social exploitation, including setting a minimum age of employment and barring children from dangerous and harmful occupations.
Right to an adequate standard of living 
Article 11 recognises the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living. This includes, but is not limited to, the right to adequate food, clothing, housing, and "the continuous improvement of living conditions." It also creates an obligation on parties to work together to eliminate world hunger.
The right to adequate food, also referred to as the right to food, is interpreted as requiring "the availability of food in a quantity and quality sufficient to satisfy the dietary needs of individuals, free from adverse substances, and acceptable within a given culture." This must be accessible to all, implying an obligation to provide special programmes for the vulnerable. This must also ensure an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need, taking into account the problems of food-importing and food-exporting countries. The right to adequate food also implies a right to water.
The right to adequate housing, also referred to as the right to housing, is "the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity." It requires "adequate privacy, adequate space, adequate security, adequate lighting and ventilation, adequate basic infrastructure and adequate location with regard to work and basic facilities – all at a reasonable cost." Parties must ensure security of tenure and that access is free of discrimination, and progressively work to eliminate homelessness. Forced evictions, defined as "the permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection", are a prima facie violation of the Covenant.
The right to adequate clothing, also referred to as the right to clothing, has not been authoritatively defined and has received little in the way of academic commentary or international discussion. What is considered "adequate" has only been discussed in specific contexts, such as refugees, the disabled, the elderly, or workers.
Right to health 
Article 12 of the Covenant recognises the right of everyone to "the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health." "Health" is understood not just as a right to be healthy, but as a right to control ones own health and body (including reproduction), and be free from interference such as torture or medical experimentation. States must protect this right by ensuring that everyone within their jurisdiction has access to the underlying determinants of health, such as clean water, sanitation, food, nutrition and housing, and through a comprehensive system of healthcare, which is available to everyone without discrimination, and economically accessible to all.
Article 12.2 requires parties to take specific steps to improve the health of their citizens, including reducing infant mortality and improving child health, improving environmental and workplace health, preventing, controlling and treating epidemic diseases, and creating conditions to ensure equal and timely access to medical services for all. These are considered to be "illustrative, non-exhaustive examples", rather than a complete statement of parties' obligations.
The right to health is interpreted as requiring parties to respect women's' reproductive rights, by not limiting access to contraception or "censoring, withholding or intentionally misrepresenting" information about sexual health. They must also ensure that women are protected from harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation.
Right to free education 
Article 13 of the Covenant recognises the right of everyone to free education (free for the primary level and "the progressive introduction of free education" for the secondary and higher levels). This is to be directed towards "the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity", and enable all persons to participate effectively in society. Education is seen both as a human right and as "an indispensable means of realizing other human rights", and so this is one of the longest and most important articles of the Covenant.
Article 13.2 lists a number of specific steps parties are required to pursue to realise the right of education. These include the provision of free, universal and compulsory primary education, "generally available and accessible" secondary education in various forms (including technical and vocational training), and equally accessible higher education. All of these must be available to all without discrimination. Parties must also develop a school system (though it may be public, private, or mixed), encourage or provide scholarships for disadvantaged groups. Parties are required to make education free at all levels, either immediately or progressively; "[p]rimary education shall be compulsory and available free to all"; secondary education "shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education"; and "[h]igher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education."
Articles 13.3 and 13.4 require parties to respect the educational freedom of parents by allowing them to choose and establish private educational institutions for their children, also referred to as Freedom of education. It also recognises the right of parents to "ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions". This is interpreted as requiring public schools to respect the freedom of religion and conscience of their students, and as forbidding instruction in a particular religion or belief system unless non-discriminatory exemptions and alternatives are available.
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights interpret the Covenant as also requiring states to respect the academic freedom of staff and students, as this is vital for the educational process. It also considers corporal punishment in schools to be inconsistent with the Covenant's underlying principle of the dignity of the individual.
Article 14 of the Covenant requires those parties which have not yet established a system of free compulsory primary education, to rapidly adopt a detailed plan of action for its introduction "within a reasonable number of years."
Right to participation in cultural life 
Article 15 of the Covenant recognises the right of everyone to participate in cultural life, enjoy the benefits of scientific progress, and to benefit from the protection of the moral and material rights to any scientific discovery or artistic work they have created. The latter clause is sometimes seen as requiring the protection of intellectual property, but the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights interprets it as primarily protecting the moral rights of authors and "proclaim[ing] the intrinsically personal character of every creation of the human mind and the ensuing durable link between creators and their creations". It thus requires parties to respect the right of authors to be recognised as the creator of a work. The material rights are interpreted as being part of the right to an adequate standard of living, and "need not extend over the entire lifespan of an author."
Parties must also work to promote the conservation, development and diffusion of science and culture, "respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity", and encourage international contacts and cooperation in these fields.
A number of parties have made reservations and interpretative declarations to their application of the Covenant.
Algeria interprets parts of Article 13, protecting the liberty of parents to freely choose or establish suitable educational institutions, so as not to "impair its right freely to organize its educational system."
Bangladesh interprets the self-determination clause in Article 1 as applying in the historical context of colonialism. It also reserves the right to interpret the labour rights in Articles 7 and 8 and the non-discrimination clauses of Articles 2 and 3 within the context of its constitution and domestic law.
Belgium interprets non-discrimination as to national origin as "not necessarily implying an obligation on States automatically to guarantee to foreigners the same rights as to their nationals. The term should be understood to refer to the elimination of any arbitrary behaviour but not of differences in treatment based on objective and reasonable considerations, in conformity with the principles prevailing in democratic societies."
China restricts labour rights in Article 8 in a manner consistent with its constitution and domestic law.
Egypt accepts the Covenant only to the extent it does not conflict with Islamic Sharia law. Sharia is "a primary source of legislation" under Article 2 of both the suspended 1973 Constitution and the 2011 Provisional Constitutional Declaration.
India interprets the right of self-determination as applying "only to the peoples under foreign domination" and not to apply to peoples within sovereign nation-states. It also interprets the limitation of rights clause and the rights of equal opportunity in the workplace within the context of its constitution.
Indonesia interprets the self-determination clause (Article 1) within the context of other international law and as not applying to peoples within a sovereign nation-state.
Kuwait interprets the non-discrimination clauses of Articles 2 and 3 within its constitution and laws, and reserves the right to social security to apply only to Kuwaitis. It also reserves the right to forbid strikes.
Mexico restricts the labour rights in Article 8 within the context of its constitution and laws.
Monaco interprets the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of national origin as "not necessarily implying an automatic obligation on the part of States to guarantee foreigners the same rights as their nationals", and reserves the right to set residence requirements on the rights to work, health, education, and social security.
New Zealand reserved the right not to apply Article 8 (the right to form and join trade unions) insofar as existing measures (which at the time included compulsory unionism and encouraged arbitration of disputes) were incompatible with it.
Norway reserves the right to strike so as to allow for compulsory arbitration of some labour disputes.
Pakistan has a general reservation to interpret the Covenant within the framework of its constitution.
Thailand interprets the right to self-determination within the framework of other international law.
Trinidad and Tobago reserves the right to restrict the right to strike of those engaged in essential occupations.
Turkey will implement the Covenant subject to the UN Charter. It also reserves the right to interpret and implement the right of parents to choose and establish educational institutions in a manner compatible with its constitution.
United Kingdom views the Covenant as subservient to the UN Charter. It made several reservations regarding its overseas territories.
United States – Amnesty International writes that "The United States signed the Covenant in 1979 under the Carter administration but is not fully bound by it until it is ratified. For political reasons, the Carter administration did not push for the necessary review of the Covenant by the Senate, which must give its 'advice and consent' before the US can ratify a treaty. The Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations took the view that economic, social, and cultural rights were not really rights but merely desirable social goals and therefore should not be the object of binding treaties. The Clinton Administration did not deny the nature of these rights but did not find it politically expedient to engage in a battle with Congress over the Covenant. The George W. Bush administration followed in line with the view of the previous Bush administration." The Obama Administration stated "The Administration does not seek action at this time" on the Covenant. The Heritage Foundation, a critical conservative think tank, argues that signing it would obligate the introduction of policies that it opposes such as universal health care.
Optional Protocol 
The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a side-agreement to the Covenant which allows its parties to recognise the competence of the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights to consider complaints from individuals.
The Optional Protocol was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 2008. It was opened for signature on 24 September 2009, and as of February 2013 has been signed by 40 parties and ratified by 10. Having passed the threshold of required ratifications, it will enter into force on 5 May 2013.
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a body of human rights experts tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Covenant. It consists of 18 independent human rights experts, elected for four-year terms, with half the members elected every two years.
Unlike other human rights monitoring bodies, the Committee was not established by the treaty it oversees. Rather, it was established by the Economic and Social Council following the failure of two previous monitoring bodies.
All states parties are required to submit regular reports to the Committee outlining the legislative, judicial, policy and other measures they have taken to implement the rights affirmed in the Covenant. The first report is due within two years of ratifying the Covenant; thereafter reports are due every five years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.
Parties to the covenant 
|State||Date signed||Date ratified, acceded or succeeded||Notes|
|Afghanistan||24 Jan 1983|
|Albania||4 Oct 1991|
|Algeria||10 Dec 1968||12 Sep 1989|
|Angola||10 Jan 1992|
|Argentina||19 Feb 1968||8 Aug 1986|
|Armenia||13 Sep 1993|
|Australia||18 Dec 1972||10 Dec 1975|
|Austria||10 Dec 1973||10 Sep 1978|
|Azerbaijan||13 Aug 1992|
|Bahamas||4 Dec 2008||23 Dec 2008|
|Bahrain||27 Sep 2007|
|Bangladesh||5 Oct 1998|
|Barbados||5 Jan 1973|
|Belarus||19 Mar 1968||12 Nov 1973||Signed and ratified as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.|
|Belgium||10 Dec 1968||21 Apr 1983|
|Belize||6 Sep 2000|
|Benin||12 Mar 1992|
|Plurinational State of Bolivia||12 Aug 1982|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1 Sep 1993||The former Yugoslavia had signed the Covenant on 8 August 1967 and ratified it on 2 June 1971.|
|Brazil||24 Jan 1992|
|Bulgaria||8 Oct 1968||21 Sep 1970|
|Burkina Faso||4 Jan 1999|
|Burundi||9 May 1990|
|Cambodia||17 Oct 1980||26 May 1992||Democratic Kampuchea had signed the Covenant on 17 October 1980|
|Cameroon||27 Jun 1984|
|Canada||19 May 1976|
|Cape Verde||6 Aug 1993|
|Central African Republic||8 May 1981|
|Chad||9 Jun 1995|
|Chile||16 Sep 1969||10 Feb 1972|
|China||27 Oct 1997||27 Mar 2001||The Republic of China had signed on 5 October 1967|
|Colombia||21 Dec 1966||29 Oct 1969|
|Comoros||25 Sep 2008|
|Congo||5 Oct 1983|
|Costa Rica||19 Dec 1966||29 Nov 1968|
|Côte d'Ivoire||26 Mar 1992|
|Croatia||12 Oct 1992||The former Yugoslavia had signed the Covenant on 8 August 1967 and ratified it on 2 June 1971.|
|Cuba||28 Feb 2008|
|Cyprus||9 Jan 1967||2 Apr 1969|
|Czech Republic||22 Feb 1993||Czechoslovakia had signed the Covenant on 7 October 1968 and ratified it on 23 December 1975.|
|Democratic People's Republic of Korea||14 Sep 1981|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||1 Nov 1976|
|Denmark||20 Mar 1968||6 Jan 1972|
|Djibouti||5 Nov 2002|
|Dominica||17 Jun 1993|
|Dominican Republic||4 Jan 1978|
|Ecuador||29 Sep 1967||6 Mar 1969|
|Egypt||4 Aug 1967||14 Jan 1982|
|El Salvador||21 Sep 1967||30 Nov 1979|
|Equatorial Guinea||25 Sep 1987|
|Eritrea||17 Apr 2001|
|Estonia||21 Oct 1991|
|Ethiopia||11 Jun 1993|
|Finland||11 Oct 1967||19 Aug 1975|
|France||4 Nov 1980|
|Gabon||21 Jan 1983|
|Gambia||29 Dec 1978|
|Georgia||3 May 1994|
|Germany||9 Oct 1968||17 Dec 1973||The German Democratic Republic had signed and ratified the Convention with reservations on 27 March 1973 and 8 November 1973|
|Ghana||7 Sep 2000||7 Sep 2000|
|Greece||16 May 1985|
|Grenada||6 Sep 1991|
|Guatemala||19 May 1988|
|Guinea||28 Feb 1967||24 Jan 1978|
|Guinea-Bissau||2 Jul 1992|
|Guyana||22 Aug 1968||15 Feb 1977|
|Honduras||19 Dec 1966||17 Feb 1981|
|Hungary||25 Mar 1969||17 Jan 1974|
|Iceland||30 Dec 1968||22 Aug 1979|
|India||10 Apr 1979|
|Indonesia||23 Feb 2006|
|Iran (Islamic Republic of)||4 Apr 1968||24 Jun 1975|
|Iraq||18 Feb 1969||25 Jan 1971|
|Ireland||1 Oct 1973||8 Dec 1989|
|Israel||19 Dec 1966||3 Oct 1991|
|Italy||18 Jan 1967||15 Sep 1978|
|Jamaica||19 Dec 1966||3 Oct 1975|
|Japan||30 May 1978||21 Jun 1979|
|Jordan||30 Jun 1972||28 May 1975|
|Kazakhstan||2 Dec 2003||24 Jan 2006|
|Kenya||1 May 1972|
|Kuwait||21 May 1996|
|Kyrgyzstan||7 Oct 1994|
|Lao People's Democratic Republic||7 Dec 2000||13 Feb 2007|
|Latvia||14 Apr 1992|
|Lebanon||3 Nov 1972|
|Lesotho||9 Sep 1992|
|Liberia||18 Apr 1967||22 Sep 2004|
|Libya||15 May 1970|
|Liechtenstein||10 Dec 1998|
|Lithuania||20 Nov 1991|
|Luxembourg||26 Nov 1974||18 Aug 1983|
|Madagascar||14 Apr 1970||22 Sep 1971|
|Malawi||22 Dec 1993|
|Maldives||19 Sep 2006|
|Mali||16 Jul 1974|
|Malta||22 Oct 1968||13 Sep 1990|
|Mauritania||17 Nov 2004|
|Mauritius||12 Dec 1973|
|Mexico||23 Mar 1981|
|Monaco||26 Jun 1997||28 Aug 1997|
|Mongolia||5 Jun 1968||18 Nov 1974|
|Montenegro||23 Oct 2006|
|Morocco||19 Jan 1977||3 May 1979|
|Namibia||28 Nov 1994|
|Nepal||14 May 1991|
|Netherlands||25 Jun 1969||11 Dec 1978|
|New Zealand||12 Nov 1968||28 Dec 1978|
|Nicaragua||12 Mar 1980|
|Niger||7 Mar 1986|
|Nigeria||29 Jul 1993|
|Norway||20 Mar 1968||13 Sep 1972|
|Pakistan||3 Nov 2004||17 Apr 2008|
|Palau||20 Sep 2011|
|Panama||27 Jul 1976||8 Mar 1977|
|Papua New Guinea||21 Jul 2008|
|Paraguay||10 Jun 1992|
|Peru||11 Aug 1977||28 Apr 1978|
|Philippines||19 Dec 1966||7 Jun 1974|
|Poland||2 Mar 1967||18 Mar 1977|
|Portugal||7 Oct 1976||31 Jul 1978|
|Republic of Korea||10 Apr 1990|
|Republic of Moldova||26 Jan 1993|
|Romania||27 Jun 1968||9 Dec 1974|
|Russian Federation||18 Mar 1968||16 Oct 1973||Signed and ratified as the Soviet Union.|
|Rwanda||16 Apr 1975|
|San Marino||18 Oct 1985|
|Sao Tome and Principe||31 Oct 1995|
|Senegal||6 Jul 1970||13 Feb 1978|
|Serbia||12 Mar 2001||The former Yugoslavia had signed the Covenant on 8 August 1967 and ratified it on 2 June 1971. The 2001 declaration of succession was made by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.|
|Seychelles||5 May 1992|
|Sierra Leone||23 Aug 1996|
|Slovakia||28 May 1993||Czechoslovakia had signed the Covenant on 7 October 1968 and ratified it on 23 December 1975.|
|Slovenia||6 Jul 1992||The former Yugoslavia had signed the Covenant on 8 August 1967 and ratified it on 2 June 1971.|
|Solomon Islands||17 Mar 1982|
|Somalia||24 Jan 1990|
|South Africa||3 Oct 1994|
|Spain||28 Sep 1976||27 Apr 1977|
|Sri Lanka||11 Jun 1980|
|St. Vincent and the Grenadines||9 Nov 1981|
|Sudan||18 Mar 1986|
|Suriname||28 Dec 1976|
|Swaziland||26 Mar 2004|
|Sweden||29 Sep 1967||6 Dec 1971|
|Switzerland||18 Jun 1992|
|Syrian Arab Republic||21 Apr 1969|
|Tajikistan||4 Jan 1999|
|Thailand||5 Sep 1999|
|The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia||18 Jan 1994||The former Yugoslavia had signed the Covenant on 8 August 1967 and ratified it on 2 June 1971.|
|Timor-Leste||16 Apr 2003|
|Togo||24 May 1984|
|Trinidad and Tobago||8 Dec 1978|
|Tunisia||30 Apr 1968||18 Mar 1969|
|Turkey||15 Aug 2000||23 Sep 2003|
|Turkmenistan||1 May 1997|
|Uganda||21 Jan 1987|
|Ukraine||20 Mar 1968||12 Nov 1973||Signed and ratified as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||16 Sep 1968||20 May 1976|
|United Republic of Tanzania||11 Jun 1976|
|United States of America||5 Oct 1977|
|Uruguay||21 Feb 1967||1 Apr 1970|
|Uzbekistan||28 Sep 1995|
|Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)||24 Jun 1969||10 May 1978|
|Viet Nam||24 Sep 1982|
|Yemen||9 Feb 1987||Effected as Yemen Arab Republic|
|Zambia||10 Apr 1984|
|Zimbabwe||13 May 1991|
States not members of the Covenant 
The majority of states in the world are parties to the ICESCR. As of June 2012[update] the following 32 states have either not yet signed the convention, or have signed but have not yet ratified the convention.
Signed but not ratified 
- Belize (2000-09-06)
- Comoros (2008-09-25)
- Cuba (2008-02-28)
- Palau (2011-09-20)
- São Tomé and Príncipe (1995-10-31)
- South Africa (1994-10-03)
- United States of America (1977-10-05)
Neither signed nor ratified 
- Principality of Andorra
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Burma (Myanmar)
- Marshall Islands
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saudi Arabia
- St. Lucia
- South Sudan
- United Arab Emirates
Non-members of the UN 
- The ROC lost its United Nations seat in 1971 (replaced as the representative of China by the People's Republic of China under Resolution 2758). The Republic of China government signed the Covenant in 1967 but did not ratify; in 2009 Taiwan finally ratified it, but the deposit was rejected by the UN.
- The Vatican is not a member of the United Nations though it holds observer status.
- "UN Treaty Collection: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights". UN. 24 February 2009. Retrieved 25 February 2009.
- "Fact Sheet No.2 (Rev.1), The International Bill of Human Rights". UN OHCHR. June 1996. Archived from the original on 13 March 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2008.
- Sieghart, Paul (1983). The International Law of Human Rights. Oxford University Press. p. 25.
- United Nations General Assembly Resolution 543, 5 February 1952.
- United Nations General Assembly Resolution 545, 5 February 1952.
- United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2200, 16 December 1966.
- The following section summarises the text of the Covenant.
- ICESCR, Article 1.1
- ICESCR, Article 1.2
- ICESCR, Article 1.3
- ICESCR, Article 2.2
- ICESCR, Article 4
- ICESCR, Article 7
- ICESCR, Article 13.1
- ICESCR, Article 2.1
- "[[International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights|ICCPR]]". UN. pp. Article 2.1. Retrieved 13 July 2008. Wikilink embedded in URL title (help)
- Paragraph 9, "CESCR General Comment 3". UN OHCHR. 14 December 1990. Retrieved 2 June 2008.
- CESCR General Comment 3, paragraph 10.
- CESCR General Comment 3, paragraph 12.
- CESCR General Comment 3, paragraphs 3 – 6.
- ICESCR, Article 6.1.
- "CESCR General Comment 18: The Right to Work" (PDF). UN Economic and Social Council. 6 February 2006. pp. paragraph 31. Retrieved 2 June 2008.
- CESCR General Comment 18, paragraph 23.
- CESCR General Comment 18, paragraph 7.
- ICESCR, Article 9.
- "CESCR Draft General Comment 19: The right to social security". UN Economic and Social Council. 4 February 2008. Retrieved 13 July 2008. Text "paragraphs 1 – 4" ignored (help)
- CESCR Draft General Comment 19, paragraph 5.
- CESCR Draft General Comment 19, paragraph 7.
- CESCR Draft General Comment 19, paragraph 37.
- ICESCR, Article 10.1.
- "Fact Sheet No.16 (Rev.1), The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights". UN OHCHR. July 1991. Archived from the original on 1 May 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2008.
- ICESCR, Article 10.3.
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