Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Adopted and opened for signature and ratification by General Assembly resolution 63/117 of
10 December 2008
entry into force 5 May 2013
The States Parties to the present Protocol,
Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations,
recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the
human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Noting that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights1 proclaims that all human beings are born
free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set
forth therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political
or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,
Recalling that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on
Human Rights2 recognize that the ideal of free human beings enjoying freedom from fear and want
can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy civil, cultural,
economic, political and social rights,
Reaffirming the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights
and fundamental freedoms,
Recalling that each State Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (hereinafter referred to as “the Covenant”) undertakes to take steps, individually and through
international assistance and cooperation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its
available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights
recognized in the Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of
Considering that, in order further to achieve the purposes of the Covenant and the implementation
of its provisions, it would be appropriate to enable the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (hereinafter referred to as “the Committee”) to carry out the functions provided for in the
Have agreed as follows:
Competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications
1. A State Party to the Covenant that becomes a Party to the present Protocol recognizes the
competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications as provided for by
the provisions of the present Protocol.
2. No communication shall be received by the Committee if it concerns a State Party to the
Covenant which is not a Party to the present Protocol.
Communications may be submitted by or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals,
under the jurisdiction of a State Party, claiming to be victims of a violation of any of the
economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the Covenant by that State Party. Where a
communication is submitted on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals, this shall be
with their consent unless the author can justify acting on their behalf without such consent.
1. The Committee shall not consider a communication unless it has ascertained that all
available domestic remedies have been exhausted. This shall not be the rule where the
application of such remedies is unreasonably prolonged.
2. The Committee shall declare a communication inadmissible when:
(a) It is not submitted within one year after the exhaustion of domestic remedies, except in
cases where the author can demonstrate that it had not been possible to submit the
communication within that time limit;
(b) The facts that are the subject of the communication occurred prior to the entry into force
of the present Protocol for the State Party concerned unless those facts continued after that
(c) The same matter has already been examined by the Committee or has been or is being
examined under another procedure of international investigation or settlement;
(d) It is incompatible with the provisions of the Covenant;
(e) It is manifestly ill-founded, not sufficiently substantiated or exclusively based on reports
disseminated by mass media;
(f) It is an abuse of the right to submit a communication; or when
(g) It is anonymous or not in writing.
Communications not revealing a clear disadvantage
The Committee may, if necessary, decline to consider a communication where it does not
reveal that the author has suffered a clear disadvantage, unless the Committee considers that
the communication raises a serious issue of general importance.
1. At any time after the receipt of a communication and before a determination on the merits
has been reached, the Committee may transmit to the State Party concerned for its urgent
consideration a request that the State Party take such interim measures as may be necessary
in exceptional circumstances to avoid possible irreparable damage to the victim or victims
of the alleged violations.
2. Where the Committee exercises its discretion under paragraph 1 of the present article, this
does not imply a determination on admissibility or on the merits of the communication.
Transmission of the communication
1. Unless the Committee considers a communication inadmissible without reference to the
State Party concerned, the Committee shall bring any communication submitted to it under
the present Protocol confidentially to the attention of the State Party concerned.
2. Within six months, the receiving State Party shall submit to the Committee written
explanations or statements clarifying the matter and the remedy, if any, that may have been
provided by that State Party.
1. The Committee shall make available its good offices to the parties concerned with a view
to reaching a friendly settlement of the matter on the basis of the respect for the obligations
set forth in the Covenant.
2. An agreement on a friendly settlement closes consideration of the communication under
the present Protocol.
Examination of communications
1. The Committee shall examine communications received under article 2 of the present
Protocol in the light of all documentation submitted to it, provided that this documentation
is transmitted to the parties concerned.
2. The Committee shall hold closed meetings when examining communications under the
3. When examining a communication under the present Protocol, the Committee may
consult, as appropriate, relevant documentation emanating from other United Nations bodies,
specialized agencies, funds, programmes and mechanisms, and other international
organizations, including from regional human rights systems, and any observations or
comments by the State Party concerned.
4. When examining communications under the present Protocol, the Committee shall
consider the reasonableness of the steps taken by the State Party in accordance with part II
of the Covenant. In doing so, the Committee shall bear in mind that the State Party may
adopt a range of possible policy measures for the implementation of the rights set forth in
Follow-up to the views of the Committee
1. After examining a communication, the Committee shall transmit its views on the
communication, together with its recommendations, if any, to the parties concerned.
2. The State Party shall give due consideration to the views of the Committee, together with
its recommendations, if any, and shall submit to the Committee, within six months, a written
response, including information on any action taken in the light of the views and
recommendations of the Committee.
3. The Committee may invite the State Party to submit further information about any
measures the State Party has taken in response to its views or recommendations, if any,
including as deemed appropriate by the Committee, in the State Party’s subsequent reports
under articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant.
1. A State Party to the present Protocol may at any time declare under the present article that
it recognizes the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications to
the effect that a State Party claims that another State Party is not fulfilling its obligations
under the Covenant. Communications under the present article may be received and
considered only if submitted by a State Party that has made a declaration recognizing in
regard to itself the competence of the Committee. No communication shall be received by
the Committee if it concerns a State Party which has not made such a declaration.
Communications received under the present article shall be dealt with in accordance with
the following procedure:
(a) If a State Party to the present Protocol considers that another State Party is not fulfilling
its obligations under the Covenant, it may, by written communication, bring the matter to
the attention of that State Party. The State Party may also inform the Committee of the
matter. Within three months after the receipt of the communication, the receiving State shall
afford the State that sent the communication an explanation, or any other statement in
writing clarifying the matter, which should include, to the extent possible and pertinent,
reference to domestic procedures and remedies taken, pending or available in the matter;
(b) If the matter is not settled to the satisfaction of both States Parties concerned within six
months after the receipt by the receiving State of the initial communication, either State shall
have the right to refer the matter to the Committee, by notice given to the Committee and
to the other State;
(c) The Committee shall deal with a matter referred to it only after it has ascertained that
all available domestic remedies have been invoked and exhausted in the matter. This shall
not be the rule where the application of the remedies is unreasonably prolonged;
(d) Subject to the provisions of subparagraph (c) of the present paragraph, the Committee
shall make available its good offices to the States Parties concerned with a view to a friendly
solution of the matter on the basis of the respect for the obligations set forth in the Covenant;
(e) The Committee shall hold closed meetings when examining communications under the
(f) In any matter referred to it in accordance with subparagraph (b) of the present paragraph,
the Committee may call upon the States Parties concerned, referred to in subparagraph (b),
to supply any relevant information;
(g) The States Parties concerned, referred to in subparagraph (b) of the present paragraph,
shall have the right to be represented when the matter is being considered by the Committee
and to make submissions orally and/or in writing;
(h) The Committee shall, with all due expediency after the date of receipt of notice under
subparagraph (b) of the present paragraph, submit a report, as follows:
(i) If a solution within the terms of subparagraph (d) of the present paragraph
is reached, the Committee shall confine its report to a brief statement of the
facts and of the solution reached;
(ii) If a solution within the terms of subparagraph (d) is not reached, the
Committee shall, in its report, set forth the relevant facts concerning the issue
between the States Parties concerned. The written submissions and record of
the oral submissions made by the States Parties concerned shall be attached
to the report. The Committee may also communicate only to the States
Parties concerned any views that it may consider relevant to the issue
In every matter, the report shall be communicated to the States Parties concerned.
2. A declaration under paragraph 1 of the present article shall be deposited by the States
Parties with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall transmit copies thereof
to the other States Parties. A declaration may be withdrawn at any time by notification to the
Secretary-General. Such a withdrawal shall not prejudice the consideration of any matter that
is the subject of a communication already transmitted under the present article; no further
communication by any State Party shall be received under the present article after the
notification of withdrawal of the declaration has been received by the Secretary-General,
unless the State Party concerned has made a new declaration.
1. A State Party to the present Protocol may at any time declare that it recognizes the
competence of the Committee provided for under the present article.
2. If the Committee receives reliable information indicating grave or systematic violations
by a State Party of any of the economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the Covenant,
the Committee shall invite that State Party to cooperate in the examination of the
information and to this end to submit observations with regard to the information concerned.
3. Taking into account any observations that may have been submitted by the State Party
concerned as well as any other reliable information available to it, the Committee may
designate one or more of its members to conduct an inquiry and to report urgently to the
Committee. Where warranted and with the consent of the State Party, the inquiry may
include a visit to its territory.
4. Such an inquiry shall be conducted confidentially and the cooperation of the State Party
shall be sought at all stages of the proceedings.
5. After examining the findings of such an inquiry, the Committee shall transmit these
findings to the State Party concerned together with any comments and recommendations.
6. The State Party concerned shall, within six months of receiving the findings, comments
and recommendations transmitted by the Committee, submit its observations to the
7. After such proceedings have been completed with regard to an inquiry made in
accordance with paragraph 2 of the present article, the Committee may, after consultations
with the State Party concerned, decide to include a summary account of the results of the
proceedings in its annual report provided for in article 15 of the present Protocol.
8. Any State Party having made a declaration in accordance with paragraph 1 of the present
article may, at any time, withdraw this declaration by notification to the Secretary-General.
Follow-up to the inquiry procedure
1. The Committee may invite the State Party concerned to include in its report under articles
16 and 17 of the Covenant details of any measures taken in response to an inquiry conducted
under article 11 of the present Protocol.
2. The Committee may, if necessary, after the end of the period of six months referred to
in article 11, paragraph 6, invite the State Party concerned to inform it of the measures taken
in response to such an inquiry.
A State Party shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that individuals under its
jurisdiction are not subjected to any form of ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence
of communicating with the Committee pursuant to the present Protocol.
International assistance and cooperation
1. The Committee shall transmit, as it may consider appropriate, and with the consent of the
State Party concerned, to United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes and
other competent bodies, its views or recommendations concerning communications and
inquiries that indicate a need for technical advice or assistance, along with the State Party’s
observations and suggestions, if any, on these views or recommendations.
2. The Committee may also bring to the attention of such bodies, with the consent of the
State Party concerned, any matter arising out of communications considered under the
present Protocol which may assist them in deciding, each within its field of competence, on
the advisability of international measures likely to contribute to assisting States Parties in
achieving progress in implementation of the rights recognized in the Covenant.
3. A trust fund shall be established in accordance with the relevant procedures of the
General Assembly, to be administered in accordance with the Financial Regulations and
Rules of the United Nations, with a view to providing expert and technical assistance to
States Parties, with the consent of the State Party concerned, for the enhanced
implementation of the rights contained in the Covenant, thus contributing to building
national capacities in the area of economic, social and cultural rights in the context of the
4. The provisions of the present article are without prejudice to the obligations of each State
Party to fulfil its obligations under the Covenant.
The Committee shall include in its annual report a summary of its activities under the present
Dissemination and information
Each State Party undertakes to make widely known and to disseminate the Covenant and the
present Protocol and to facilitate access to information about the views and
recommendations of the Committee, in particular, on matters involving that State Party, and
to do so in accessible formats for persons with disabilities.
Signature, ratification and accession
1. The present Protocol is open for signature by any State that has signed, ratified or
acceded to the Covenant.
2. The present Protocol is subject to ratification by any State that has ratified or acceded to
the Covenant. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of
the United Nations.
3. The present Protocol shall be open to accession by any State that has ratified or acceded
to the Covenant.
4. Accession shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument of accession with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Entry into force
1. The present Protocol shall enter into force three months after the date of the deposit with
the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the tenth instrument of ratification or
2. For each State ratifying or acceding to the present Protocol after the deposit of the tenth
instrument of ratification or accession, the Protocol shall enter into force three months after
the date of the deposit of its instrument of ratification or accession.
1. Any State Party may propose an amendment to the present Protocol and submit it to the
Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Secretary-General shall communicate any
proposed amendments to States Parties, with a request to be notified whether they favour a
meeting of States Parties for the purpose of considering and deciding upon the proposals. In
the event that, within four months from the date of such communication, at least one third
of the States Parties favour such a meeting, the Secretary-General shall convene the meeting
under the auspices of the United Nations. Any amendment adopted by a majority of two
thirds of the States Parties present and voting shall be submitted by the Secretary-General
to the General Assembly for approval and thereafter to all States Parties for acceptance.
2. An amendment adopted and approved in accordance with paragraph 1 of the present
article shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the number of instruments of
acceptance deposited reaches two thirds of the number of States Parties at the date of
adoption of the amendment. Thereafter, the amendment shall enter into force for any State
Party on the thirtieth day following the deposit of its own instrument of acceptance. An
amendment shall be binding only on those States Parties which have accepted it.
1. Any State Party may denounce the present Protocol at any time by written notification
addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Denunciation shall take effect six
months after the date of receipt of the notification by the Secretary-General.
2. Denunciation shall be without prejudice to the continued application of the provisions of
the present Protocol to any communication submitted under articles 2 and 10 or to any
procedure initiated under article 11 before the effective date of denunciation.
Notification by the Secretary-General
The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall notify all States referred to in article 26,
paragraph 1, of the Covenant of the following particulars:
(a) Signatures, ratifications and accessions under the present Protocol;
(b) The date of entry into force of the present Protocol and of any amendment under article
(c) Any denunciation under article 20.
1. The present Protocol, of which the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and
Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the United Nations.
2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit certified copies of the present
Protocol to all States referred to in article 26 of the Covenant.
1 Resolution 217A (III).
2 Resolution 2200A (XXI), annex.