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SAHRC welcomes Government's decision to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

18 January 2015

ATTENTION: Editors and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission welcomes the decision by the South African government to ratify the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

The decision by government, which was effected this past week, on the 12th January 2015, should be commended as it ensures that South Africa is finally able to honor its international obligations and to consolidate its commitment to alleviate poverty and ensure social justice for all.

In the statement of Declaration after the ratification this week, the United Nations expressed its hope that by ratifying the ICESCR, “the Government of the Republic of South Africa will give progressive effect to the right to education, as provided for in Article 13 (2) (a) and Article 14, within the framework of its National Education Policy and available resources.”

The Commission believes that the ratification will enhance the ability of the government to play a meaningful role as one of the key advocates for social, economic and cultural rights in the international arena. And it will  further enable the Country to keep pace with those countries that have ratified the Covenant and thus accelerate and improve the respect and observance of socio economic rights in South Africa.

It is for this reason therefore that as the Commission we urge Government to expedite the domestication of the Covenant so as to ensure that those provisions that are in the Covenant and not in our Constitution, or any other legislation, become applicable in South Africa.

The final ratification of this Covenant is a fitting tribute to former President Nelson Mandela who initially signed the ICESCR in 1994 on his first visit to the UN in New York, taking a bold step to indicate South Africa’s intention to join the rest of the world in promoting socio-economic rights.


Issued by the SA Human Rights Commission
Isaac Mangena

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