The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law

« Calling things by the wrong name adds to the affliction of the world. » Albert Camus.

Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

The Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights was established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) under the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (which was adopted by the General Assembly on 16 December 1966, and entered into force on 3 January 1976). It monitors the implementation of the Covenant, which has been ratified by 164 States as of June 2015.


The Committee has eighteen members, elected by secret ballot by ECOSOC for a term of four years, from a list of persons nominated by States party to the Covenant. The members are experts with recognized competence in human rights, serving in their personal capacity. Due consideration is given to equitable geographic distribution and to the representation of different forms of social and legal systems.


The human rights that the Covenant seeks to promote and protect are of three kinds: the right to work in just and favorable conditions; the right to social protection, to an adequate standard of living, and to the highest attainable standards of physical and mental well-being; and the right to education and the enjoyment of benefits of cultural freedom and scientific progress. The Covenant provides for the realization of these rights without discrimination of any kind.

The States Parties submit periodic reports to the Committee on how they have been implementing the Covenant’s provisions. The Committee studies these reports and discusses them with representatives of the governments concerned. Its comments on the Covenant aim to help States in their task of implementation, as well as to bring to their attention deficiencies in reports and procedures. The Committee submits to ECOSOC a report on its activities that contains observations relating to each State Party’s report, in order to help ECOSOC fulfill its responsibilities under Articles 21 and 22 of the Covenant. The Committee meets two times a year in Geneva for a period of up to three weeks.

NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC are permitted to submit to the Committee written statements that might contribute to full and universal realization of the rights set forth in the Covenant (ECOSOC Resolution 1988/4).

Human rightsIndividual recourse

List of States Party to International Human Rights and Humanitarian Conventions (no. 5)

Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

52 rue Paquis

1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Tel.: (41) 22 917 92 39

Fax: (41) 22 917 90 12

For Additional Information: Leckie, Scott. “The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Catalyst for Change in a System Needing Reform.” In The Future of United Nations Human Rights Treaty Monitoring , edited by P. Alston and J. Crawford, 129–44. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.