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Government challenged to sign rights protocol

ON Thursday representatives of states from around the world will gather to sign an agreement aimed at strengthening the protection of economic, social and cultural rights for individuals.

ON Thursday representatives of states from around the world will gather to sign an agreement aimed at strengthening the protection of economic, social and cultural rights for individuals.

The new optional protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights creates a mechanism through which individuals whose rights in areas such as employment, health, housing and education have been violated, and who have not been able to achieve justice in their own countries, can apply to the UN for assistance in finding a resolution.

At a time when the protection of economic and social rights has never been more important, it is extremely disappointing that the Government does not intend to sign the new protocol.

We urge the Government to adopt an approach consistent with its stated strong commitment to global respect for human rights, and its decision that Ireland seeks election to the UN Human Rights Council in 2012.

We are concerned that Ireland’s failure to sign the optional protocol this month will send a regrettable signal to other states, including those in the global south, that it is acceptable to deny access to remedies to victims of human rights violations.

The optional protocol is not about obtaining compensation, nor is it about trying to use the UN to embarrass national governments — rather it seeks to enable the UN to work with individuals and governments to find solutions.

By signing the protocol the Government can show its commitment to protecting economic and social rights in Ireland and elsewhere.

We, the undersigned, call on the Taoiseach to show leadership on this issue and we urge the Government to sign and ratify the protocol this month, thus making a public commitment to increase access to justice for those whose essential rights have been violated and whose human dignity has been ignored.

Olga McDonogh

ActionAid Ireland

Salome Mbugua


Colm O’Gorman

Amnesty International Ireland

Maeve Taylor


Jillian Van

Turnhout Children’s Rights Alliance

John Moffett

Christian Aid

Deirdre Murray


Hans Zomer


Anna Visser

European Anti-Poverty Network

Noeline Blackwell

Free Legal Advice Centres

Deirdre Carroll

Inclusion Ireland

Mark Kelly

Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Niall Behan

Irish Family Planning Association

Liam Herrick

Irish Penal Reform Trust

Damien Peelo

Irish Traveller Movement

John Stewart

Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed

Fr Gerry O’Hanlon

Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice

Frances Byrne

One Parent Exchange Network

Mary Cunningham

National Youth Council of Ireland

Fr Peter McVerry

Peter McVerry Trust

David Dalton

Plan Ireland

Don Ryan

Teachers Union of Ireland

Deirdre Garvey

The Wheel

Justin Kilcullen


Helen Keogh

World Vision International.


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