The State is depriving Ukrainians of an effective tool for defending their rights


In the near future Ukrainians will not receive an effective tool for fighting poverty and discrimination. The country’s leaders chose not to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 2008.

This protocol makes it possible for any person to defend their economic, social or cultural rights, including those related to work conditions; minimum wage; trade unions; social security; protection of the family; etc at international level.

The Optional Protocol is an important tool for identifying flagrant human rights violations which are most often linked with poverty and discrimination.  It can promote the development of domestic court practice on issues pertaining to protection of economic, social or cultural rights, as well as helping to gain international experience in human rights protection.

It is interesting that Ukraine signed the document yet does not plan to make it a part of national legislation. It stated this at international level by rejecting the UN Human Rights Council’s recommendation to ratify this international document.

What is standing in the way of ratification?

The current situation in Ukraine as regards safeguarding socio-economic rights is critical. According to the human rights organizations’ report Human Rights in Ukraine – 2012, the quality of life is falling, while poverty indicators are on the rise.  The state is not providing for the commitments it made in virtually all spheres of life. The inadequate subsistence minimum;  the poor quality of drinking water; dangerous food products all result from ignoring citizens’ socio-economic rights. It is extremely difficult to defend these rights.

If Ukraine ratifies the Protocol, people will be able to turn to a Committee specially created for complaints about violations of their rights as guaranteed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This will effectively mean the appearance of another international body for defending human rights. Its decisions furthermore will have to be enforced. Does this suit the country’s leaders?  Decide for yourselves.

However we can already now state that the lack of intention in Ukraine to ratify the Optional Protocol demonstrates that our country is not in a hurry to implement and guarantee human rights and freedoms, including economic, social and cultural.

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