International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
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Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI)
of 16 December 1966
entry into force 3 January 1976, in accordance with article 27
The States Parties to the present Covenant,
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,
Recognizing that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person,
that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
ideal of free human beings enjoying freedom from fear and want can only
be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his
economic, social and cultural rights, as well as his civil and
Considering the obligation of
States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal
respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms,
Realizing that the individual,
having duties to other individuals and to the community to which he
belongs, is under a responsibility to strive for the promotion and
observance of the rights recognized in the present Covenant,
Agree upon the following articles:
All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that
right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue
their economic, social and cultural development.
2. All peoples may, for their own
ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without
prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic
co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and
international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means
3. The States Parties to the
present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the
administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall
promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall
respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of
the United Nations.
Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps,
individually and through international assistance and co-operation,
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 present Covenant by all appropriate
means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.
2. The States Parties to the
present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights enunciated in
the present Covenant will be exercised 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.
3. Developing countries, with due
regard to human rights and their national economy, may determine to
what extent they would guarantee the economic rights recognized in the
present Covenant to non-nationals.
States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal
right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and
cultural rights set forth in the present Covenant.
States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, in the enjoyment
of those rights provided by the State in conformity with the present
Covenant, the State may subject such rights only to such limitations as
are determined by law only in so far as this may be compatible with the
nature of these rights and solely for the purpose of promoting the
general welfare in a democratic society.
Nothing in the present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any
State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to
perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights or
freedoms recognized herein, or at their limitation to a greater extent
than is provided for in the present Covenant.
No restriction upon or derogation from any of the fundamental human
rights recognized or existing in any country in virtue of law,
conventions, regulations or custom shall be admitted on the pretext
that the present Covenant does not recognize such rights or that it
recognizes them to a lesser extent.
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work,
which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his
living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take
appropriate steps to safeguard this right.
2. The steps to be taken by a
State Party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of
this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training
programmes, policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social
and cultural development and full and productive employment under
conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to
States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone
to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work which
ensure, in particular:
(a) Remuneration which provides all workers, as a minimum, with:
Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without
distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed
conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay
for equal work;
(ii) A decent living for themselves and their families in accordance with the provisions of the present Covenant;
(b) Safe and healthy working conditions;
Equal opportunity for everyone to be promoted in his employment to an
appropriate higher level, subject to no considerations other than those
of seniority and competence;
(d ) Rest, leisure and reasonable
limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as
remuneration for public holidays
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure:
The right of everyone to form trade unions and join the trade union of
his choice, subject only to the rules of the organization concerned,
for the promotion and protection of his economic and social interests.
No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than
those prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society
in the interests of national security or public order or for the
protection of the rights and freedoms of others;
The right of trade unions to establish national federations or
confederations and the right of the latter to form or join
international trade-union organizations;
(c) The right of trade unions to
function freely subject to no limitations other than those prescribed
by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests
of national security or public order or for the protection of the
rights and freedoms of others;
(d) The right to strike, provided that it is exercised in conformity with the laws of the particular country.
2. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions
on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces or of
the police or of the administration of the State.
3. Nothing in this article shall
authorize States Parties to the International Labour Organisation
Convention of 1948 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of
the Right to Organize to take legislative measures which would
prejudice, or apply the law in such a manner as would prejudice, the
guarantees provided for in that Convention.
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance.
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that:
The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the
family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society,
particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the
care and education of dependent children. Marriage must be entered into
with the free consent of the intending spouses.
Special protection should be accorded to mothers during a reasonable
period before and after childbirth. During such period working mothers
should be accorded paid leave or leave with adequate social security
3. Special measures of protection
and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and young
persons without any discrimination for reasons of parentage or other
conditions. Children and young persons should be protected from
economic and social exploitation. Their employment in work harmful to
their morals or health or dangerous to life or likely to hamper their
normal development should be punishable by law. States should also set
age limits below which the paid employment of child labour should be
prohibited and punishable by law.
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of
everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family,
including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous
improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take
appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing
to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation
based on free consent.
States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental
right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually and
through international co-operation, the measures, including specific
programmes, which are needed:
To improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food
by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by
disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by
developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve
the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources;
(b) Taking into account the
problems of both food-importing and food-exporting countries, to ensure
an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need.
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of
everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of
physical and mental health.
The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to
achieve the full realization of this right shall include those
(a) The provision for the
reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the
healthy development of the child;
(b) The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene;
(c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases;
(d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of
everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to
the full development of the human personality and the sense of its
dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and
fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable
all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote
understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all
racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the
United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
2. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, with a view to achieving the full realization of this right:
(a) Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all;
Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and
vocational 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;
(c) Higher 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
(d) Fundamental education shall be
encouraged or intensified as far as possible for those persons who have
not received or completed the whole period of their primary education;
(e) The development of a system of
schools at all levels shall be actively pursued, an adequate fellowship
system shall be established, and the material conditions of teaching
staff shall be continuously improved.
The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect
for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to
choose for their children schools, other than those established by the
public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards
as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the
religious and moral education of their children in conformity with
their own convictions.
4. No part
of this article shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty
of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational
institutions, subject always to the observance of the principles set
forth in paragraph I of this article and to the requirement that the
education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum
standards as may be laid down by the State.
State Party to the present Covenant which, at the time of becoming a
Party, has not been able to secure in its metropolitan territory or
other territories under its jurisdiction compulsory primary education,
free of charge, undertakes, within two years, to work out and adopt a
detailed plan of action for the progressive implementation, within a
reasonable number of years, to be fixed in the plan, of the principle
of compulsory education free of charge for all.
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone:
(a) To take part in cultural life;
(b) To enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications;
To benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests
resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which
he is the author. 2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties
to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right
shall include those necessary for the conservation, the development and
the diffusion of science and culture.
3. The States Parties to the present
Covenant undertake to respect the freedom indispensable for scientific
research and creative activity.
4. The States Parties to the
present Covenant recognize the benefits to be derived from the
encouragement and development of international contacts and
co-operation in the scientific and cultural fields.
The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to submit in
conformity with this part of the Covenant reports on the measures which
they have adopted and the progress made in achieving the observance of
the rights recognized herein.
All reports shall be submitted to the Secretary-General of the United
Nations, who shall transmit copies to the Economic and Social Council
for consideration in accordance with the provisions of the present
(b) The Secretary-General of the
United Nations shall also transmit to the specialized agencies copies
of the reports, or any relevant parts therefrom, from States Parties to
the present Covenant which are also members of these specialized
agencies in so far as these reports, or parts therefrom, relate to any
matters which fall within the responsibilities of the said agencies in
accordance with their constitutional instruments.
The States Parties to the present Covenant shall furnish their reports
in stages, in accordance with a programme to be established by the
Economic and Social Council within one year of the entry into force of
the present Covenant after consultation with the States Parties and the
specialized agencies concerned.
2. Reports may indicate factors and difficulties affecting the degree of fulfilment of obligations under the present Covenant.
Where relevant information has previously been furnished to the United
Nations or to any specialized agency by any State Party to the present
Covenant, it will not be necessary to reproduce that information, but a
precise reference to the information so furnished will suffice.
to its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations in the
field of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Economic and Social
Council may make arrangements with the specialized agencies in respect
of their reporting to it on the progress made in achieving the
observance of the provisions of the present Covenant falling within the
scope of their activities. These reports may include particulars of
decisions and recommendations on such implementation adopted by their
Economic and Social Council may transmit to the Commission on Human
Rights for study and general recommendation or, as appropriate, for
information the reports concerning human rights submitted by States in
accordance with articles 16 and 17, and those concerning human rights
submitted by the specialized agencies in accordance with article 18.
States Parties to the present Covenant and the specialized agencies
concerned may submit comments to the Economic and Social Council on any
general recommendation under article 19 or reference to such general
recommendation in any report of the Commission on Human Rights or any
documentation referred to therein.
Economic and Social Council may submit from time to time to the General
Assembly reports with recommendations of a general nature and a summary
of the information received from the States Parties to the present
Covenant and the specialized agencies on the measures taken and the
progress made in achieving general observance of the rights recognized
in the present Covenant.
Economic and Social Council may bring to the attention of other organs
of the United Nations, their subsidiary organs and specialized agencies
concerned with furnishing technical assistance any matters arising out
of the reports referred to in this part of the present Covenant which
may assist such bodies in deciding, each within its field of
competence, on the advisability of international measures likely to
contribute to the effective progressive implementation of the present
The States Parties to the present Covenant agree that international
action for the achievement of the rights recognized in the present
Covenant includes such methods as the conclusion of conventions, the
adoption of recommendations, the furnishing of technical assistance and
the holding of regional meetings and technical meetings for the purpose
of consultation and study organized in conjunction with the Governments
in the present Covenant shall be interpreted as impairing the
provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and of the
constitutions of the specialized agencies which define the respective
responsibilities of the various organs of the United Nations and of the
specialized agencies in regard to the matters dealt with in the present
in the present Covenant shall be interpreted as impairing the inherent
right of all peoples to enjoy and utilize fully and freely their
natural wealth and resources.
The present Covenant is open for signature by any State Member of the
United Nations or member of any of its specialized agencies, by any
State Party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and
by any other State which has been invited by the General Assembly of
the United Nations to become a party to the present Covenant.
2. The present Covenant is subject
to ratification. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with
the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
3. The present Covenant shall be open to accession by any State referred to in paragraph 1 of this article.
4. Accession shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States
which have signed the present Covenant or acceded to it of the deposit
of each instrument of ratification or accession.
The present Covenant shall enter into force three months after the date
of the deposit with the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the
thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or instrument of accession.
For each State ratifying the present Covenant or acceding to it after
the deposit of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or
instrument of accession, the present Covenant shall enter into force
three months after the date of the deposit of its own instrument of
ratification or instrument of accession.
The provisions of the present Covenant shall extend to all parts of federal States without any limitations or exceptions.
Any State Party to the present Covenant may propose an amendment and
file it with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The
Secretary-General shall thereupon communicate any proposed amendments
to the States Parties to the present Covenant with a request that they
notify him whether they favour a conference of States Parties for the
purpose of considering and voting upon the proposals. In the event that
at least one third of the States Parties favours such a conference, the
Secretary-General shall convene the conference under the auspices of
the United Nations. Any amendment adopted by a majority of the States
Parties present and voting at the conference shall be submitted to the
General Assembly of the United Nations for approval.
Amendments shall come into force when they have been approved by the
General Assembly of the United Nations and accepted by a two-thirds
majority of the States Parties to the present Covenant in accordance
with their respective constitutional processes.
3. When amendments come into force
they shall be binding on those States Parties which have accepted them,
other States Parties still being bound by the provisions of the present
Covenant and any earlier amendment which they have accepted.
Irrespective of the notifications made under article 26, paragraph 5,
the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States
referred to in paragraph I of the same article of the following
(a) Signatures, ratifications and accessions under article 26;
The date of the entry into force of the present Covenant under article
27 and the date of the entry into force of any amendments under article
The present Covenant, of which the Chinese, English, French, Russian
and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the
archives of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit certified
copies of the present Covenant to all States referred to in article 26.