Sunday, June 08, 2008

Zenit: Protocol to "Fill Gap" in Rights Protection

Protocol to "Fill Gap" in Rights Protection

Holy See Says All Should be Able to Seek Justice

GENEVA, JUNE 6, 2008 ( A draft protocol being considered by the U.N. Human Rights Council will effectively "fill a gap" in the international human rights system, says the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said this Wednesday to a working group of the 8th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is discussing a draft of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The protocol would establish a mechanism that would allow victims of economic, social and cultural rights violations to submit a complaint to the United Nations.

Complaint mechanisms exist for all other U.N. rights treaties, except the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

The proposed protocol would offer the same protection to those who have been evicted -- a violation of one's economic, social and cultural rights -- as a similar mechanism gives to those who have been tortured, which is covered under another U.N. treaty.

Archbishop Tomasi explained that "historically, economic, social and cultural rights were considered too vague to be justiciable and a base for an individual complaint procedure."

"In a way," he added, "they were looked at as second-rate human rights."

Right direction

The archbishop said the mechanism would be "a positive step toward a fair social and international order."

The Holy See representative told the working group that the various instruments of the United Nations "sustain [...] a culture of justice and global solidarity."

Archbishop Tomasi affirmed that the treaty on economic, social and cultural rights "serves as a major framework for the achievement of these goals," and that the "steps that have been taken to increase its effectiveness through new mechanisms are a sign of the continued determination to look at the implementation of all human rights in a balanced way."

"The universal value of human dignity requires the promotion and protection of all human rights without distinction of any kind," he added.

The archbishop called the current text "a good compromise," in that it "gives the possibility to individuals and groups to seek justice from violations, and it reinforces existing mechanisms for an effective monitoring of the activity of states."