Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law


9. Need for Closer Cooperation between UN Human Rights Bodies, International Organizations, Parliaments and Non-Governmental Human Rights Groups

According to Article 18 of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, "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." Human rights and their corresponding government obligations are referred to in the statutes and mandates of several international organizations, such as the human right to education to be promoted by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the human rights to work and freedom of association to be protected by the International Labor Organization (ILO); the human right to health as the central legal objective of the World Health Organization (WHO); the human right to food as a major task of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO); the protection of intellectual property rights by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); and the promotion of children rights by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). Article 2 of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights requires "to take steps, individually and through international assistance and cooperation ... with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant". More comprehensive cooperative arrangements for making the legal and supervisory activities of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the multilateral rule-making and operational assistance by specialized international organizations mutually reinforcing are indispensable for enhancing the effectiveness of complementary international and national measures for the promotion of human rights.

In the elaboration of its so far 14 "general comments" (e.g. on the human right to health), and during its "days of general discussion", the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights cooperates already actively with specialized international organizations (such as WHO, IMF, World Bank, ILO, WIPO and also WTO) and non-governmental human rights groups. The Committee also submitted a declaration to the second ministerial conference of the WTO at Seattle in November 1999 reminding all states, and also the WTO, of their human rights obligations. Yet, many specialized worldwide organizations (such as IMF and WTO) lack special rules, procedures and institutions for protecting human rights in their specialized fields of activities. As a result, the "human rights functions" of economic policy objectives (such as monetary stability as a precondition for the protection of the value of property rights in money), and the "economic functions" of human rights (such as liberty rights and property rights as preconditions for a market economy), tend to be unduly neglected in specialized organizations.

The objective of integrating human rights into national and international development strategies can hardly be achieved without more political support also from parliaments and non-governmental organizations for integrating human rights into the rule-making and operational activities of specialized organizations. Human rights and the corresponding state obligations further require more effective international accountability mechanisms and judicial remedies as part of human rights law and of global integration law.




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