International Bill of Human Rights
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The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The States Parties to the present Covenant,
Considering 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,
Recognizing 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 political rights,
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:
1. 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
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 of subsistence.
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.
1. 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.
The 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
The 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
1. 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 the individual.
The 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:
(i) 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;
(c) 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:
(a) 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;
(b) 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
(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:
1. 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.
2. 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 benefits.
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.
1. 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.
2. The 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:
(a) 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.
1. 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.
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:
(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
(d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical
attention in the event of sickness.
1. 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;
(b) 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 free
(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
(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.
3. 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.
Each 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;
(c) 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.
1. 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.
(a) 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 Covenant;
(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.
1. 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.
3. 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.
Pursuant 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 competent organs.
The 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
The 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.
The 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.
The 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 Covenant.
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 concerned.
Nothing 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 Covenant.
Nothing 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.
1. 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.
5. 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
1. 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.
2. 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 particulars:
(a) Signatures, ratifications and accessions under article 26;
(b) 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 29.
1. 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.
2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit certified copies of the
present Covenant to all States referred to in article 26.
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.
© Copyright 1997, Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland
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