27 Nordisk Tidsskrift for Menneskerettigheter 1 (2009)

handle is hein.journals/norjhur27 and id is 1 raw text is: 








                             CLOSING THE GAP?
                       - AN INTRODUCTION TO THE
            OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE INTERNATIONAL
   COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS




                              BY MALCOLM LANGFORD*



Abstract: On 10 December 2008, the UN GeneralAssembly adopted the Optional Protocol to
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This article introduces
this new international complaints and inquiry procedure with a particularfocus on its his-
torical evolution, debates over justiciability, its provisions and some of the key interpretive
issues that are likely to arise in practice. The article also introduces the other articles in this
Special Issue and notes the likely way ahead on ratification ofthe protocol.
Keywords: UnitedNations, International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights,
justiciability, complaint and inquiry procedure, admissibility and merits.



                               A. MIND THE GAP

On 10 December 2008, the text of an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Eco-
nomic, Social and Cultural Rights was adopted without a vote by the UN General Assembly.1
The protocol provides for the right of individuals and groups of individuals to complain of
violations of the rights contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cul-
tural Rights (ICESCR).2 The authority to decide on the complaint (formally a communica-


    * (b. 1972) Research Fellow, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo, and Direc-
tor, Human Rights and Development Research Group, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo. Email: mal-
colm.langford@nchr.uio.no. I would like to sincerely thank the two reviewers, Catarina de Albuquerque
and Claire Mahon for their very useful comments. In addition, Tara Smith was most helpful in the organ-
ising of a seminar on 6 October 2008 at the University of Oslo: The Optional Protocol to the Interna-
tional Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Local and Global Perspectives on Norway s
Position. A number of the presentations at the seminar led to the articles in this Issue. Khulekani Moyo
also kindly assisted in helping to edit many of the articles.
    1 GA Res. 832, UN GAOR, 63rd Session, UN Doc A/RES/63/117 (2008). For official records of the
plenary session, see Official Records, 66th Plenary meeting, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV 66, Wednesday 10
December 2008, 4.30pm.
    2 G.A. Res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 49, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 993
U.N.T.S. 3, entered into force Jan. 3, 1976.


NORDISK TIDSSKRIFT FOR MENNESKERETTIGHETER -VOL. 27, NR 1, S. 1 28. ISSN 1503-6480 1
(C) UNIVERSITETSFORLAGET 2009

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