United Nations

E/C.12/ARG/Q/4/Add.1

Economic and Social Council

Distr.: General

26 July 2018

English

Original: Spanish

Spanish, French and English only

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Sixty-fourth session

24 September–12 October 2018

Item 6 (a) of the provisional agenda

Consideration of reports: reports submitted by States parties in accordance with articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant

List of issues in relation to the fourth periodic report of Argentina

Addendum

Replies of Argentina to the list of issues * , **

[Date received: 14 June 2018]

Question 1

1.The National Statistics and Census Institute (INDEC) has drawn up a work programme to cover the 2017–2020 period, which focuses on five strategic areas: institutional change, building statistical capacity, closer coordination of the national statistical system, promotion of the dissemination of and user-friendly access to statistics and development of international relations.

2.With regard to the building of statistical capacity, a package of statistical measures deemed crucial for the strengthening of the Institute, which will help to improve the quality of data, are listed below:

(a)National Survey of Household Expenditure, the findings of which will shed light on households’ consumption of goods and services according to their make-up and income level, record seasonal variations and monitor changes in consumer behaviour over time. The findings will be presented for the country as a whole and for each region and will yield useful information for planning public policies and decision-taking;

(b)Survey of children’s and adolescents’ activities, the aim of which is to record aspects related to the use of free time, access to information technologies and participation in domestic chores of the 5 to 17 age group;

(c)National Victims Survey, the purpose of which is to produce indicators of the prevalence and incidence of crime, to identify crime-prevention measures taken by the general public, to collect information on types of crime and the circumstances in which persons become victims, and to investigate the community’s perception of lack of public safety, the performance of the security forces and courts and assistance to victims;

(d)National Risk Factors Survey designed to measure the magnitude of risk factors related to non-communicable diseases. Diseases are linked to a number of common risk factors such as a poor diet, lack of physical exercise and tobacco and alcohol consumption;

(e)National Survey of the profile of persons with disability, the general purpose of which is to quantify and categorize persons with activity limitations and participation restrictions based on the interaction between the person with a disability and their daily contextual factors;

(f)Improvement of birth and death statistics with a view to analysing the current demographic situation and establishing precise figures throughout the country;

(g)National Population, Household and Housing Survey, which is aimed at collecting and compiling data on the main demographic, social and housing aspects of the population of the country at a given time. The 2020 census will contain questions about indigenous peoples, gender, disability and African descent.

Question 2

3.It must first be made clear that the Argentine Republic acts in strict compliance with the rule of law. Accordingly, all action ordered by the judicial authorities in the context of land disputes is carried out with the participation of the federal security forces, in conformity with national protocols consistent with international norms. It does not in any way constitute a reprisal, but is in accordance with democratic and republican practices.

4.In this connection, it must be noted that the security forces’ conduct conforms to the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials adopted under article 22 of the Act No. 4059, on internal security, in accordance with the recommendations of the code of professional ethics established by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

5.If institutional violence during such procedures is reported, in addition to the judicial proceedings initiated by prosecutors in response to these reports, the National Institute of Indigenous Affairs (INAI) files formal communications with the competent national or provincial bodies, in which it requests action and/or information concerning the measures which have been taken within the areas under their jurisdiction with a view to investigating and/or punishing such acts.

6.Furthermore INAI adopts various courses of action in administrative or judicial proceedings concerning a land dispute, eviction or clearing of land traditionally occupied by indigenous communities.

7.Since 2004 INAI has been implementing the Community Strengthening Programme, the purpose of which is to supply legal assistance and set up legal services for indigenous communities and peoples in Argentina.

8.As part of this programme, INAI also provides technical assistance to communities, sends requests for information to the courts involved and publicizes national and international rules on the protection of the rights of indigenous communities. In addition, it provides the requisite documentation in court cases where the communities in question are required to provide proof of their legal personality or of their locus standi with respect to a land survey.

Question 3

9.The Ministry of Energy and Mining pursues two main aims in the energy sector: to secure the energy supply for a country with a growing economy and to reduce its adverse impact on the environment.

10.To this end the development and exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels is part of energy planning that seeks to diversify the energy matrix by inter alia expanding energy sources with low or no greenhouse gas emissions, combined with savings and efficiency policies which will make it possible to reduce the country’s energy intensity.

11.Public policies in the energy sector take account of the existing international framework and are based on the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). NDCs are the actions which States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) intend to take as part of increased efforts to combat climate change. The presentation of NDCs laid the foundation for giving practical effect to the Paris Agreement which has been in force since 2016.

12.The determination of NDCs took into consideration both projections of the incorporation of clean energy sources in the total energy supply (unconventional renewable energy, hydroelectric energy, nuclear energy and biofuels) and specific demand-side energy efficiency measures such as greater exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbons (oil and natural gas), the environmental impact of which is substantially less than of the conventional exploitation of hydrocarbons.

13.Argentina adopted the Agreement through Act No. 27270 and submitted to the UNFCCC the absolute target of not exceeding the net emission of 483 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2eq) by the year 2030. In 2014, Argentina emitted a total of 368 tCO2eq, with the energy sector being responsible for 53 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions.

14.Argentina has experience with the exploitation of natural gas, especially in Neuquén Province, where the main exploration and production of unconventional hydrocarbons is being carried out and where there is a network of processing and transport facilities, which significantly reduces the percentage of gas lost from leakage and venting during its production.

15.Lastly, the Ministry is working with Neuquén Province and the private sector to update the laws and regulations applying to the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons to make environmental protection the main focus thereof.

16.Please see also the information in the reply to question 22.

Question 4

17.The Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development is encouraging multipurpose oversight through a system of comprehensive environmental monitoring with the aim of checking on and avoiding possible sources of environmental pollution.

18.This monitoring system will make it possible periodically and systematically to consolidate environmental data and information to provide a tool ensuring efficient environmental management. It optimizes policies and activities related to inspection and environmental quality thereby achieving an overall, coordinated picture shared by various administrative authorities.

19.The Ministry likewise monitors and checks hazardous waste in accordance with article 1 of Act No. 24051 on hazardous waste. The monitoring of industrial liquid spills and effluents is conducted at the national level in accordance with the provisions of Decrees Nos. 674/89 and 776/92, in cooperation with the provincial authorities as they work in the areas under their jurisdiction.

20.As far as interaction with communities is concerned, the Ministry is implementing Comprehensive Community Plans, which are participative planning instruments covering forestry, crop rearing and animal husbandry in one or more beneficiary communities, including indigenous communities in various provinces, the aim of which is to secure the sustainability of their livelihoods by maintaining and restoring native forests. The plans adopt an integrated approach involving community management in accordance with the general procedures laid down by Act No. 26331.

21.As of March 2018, there were 93 plans at various stages of progress (approved, in preparation or under consideration), covering 2,841 families and a total of 628,173 hectares.

Question 5

22.Argentina is in the process of giving effect to indigenous communities’ right to prior, free and informed consultation in order to guarantee their full and effective participation in public policies and public and private projects which might affect them.

23.Although there are no protocols and/or laws or regulations governing consultation processes, consultations have actually taken place with industry, where INAI accompanied indigenous communities during the dialogue with provincial governments and the companies responsible for projects.

24.For example, in 2016 the Logys people were consulted by ENARSA about the laying of the northern gas pipeline. As part of the RenovAr programme for the expanded use of energy from renewable sources, a consultation protocol was agreed with the National Indigenous Coordination Bureau. In the middle of 2017, consultations were held on the route of the Dakar Rally, an event held annually in the region.

25.Consultation processes have likewise been organized by provincial governments on legislative or administrative measures that were likely to affect indigenous communities.

26.INAI is currently promoting and/or participating in 21 consultation processes that are at differing stages of progress in various provinces.

27.During the second half of 2018, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights is planning, as part of its Justice 2020 Programme, to hold several face-to-face meetings and a virtual participation forum for a brainstorming on possible rules on prior, free and informed consultation.

Question 6

28.The answer may be found in the annex on question 6.

Question 7

29.With a view to implementing measures to reverse the negative indicators of the Argentine economy, Decree No. 133/2015 abolished withholding taxes on the mixed farming sector in recognition of the need to reduce export duties as they distorted and discouraged production in that sector and therefore undermined sources of employment and wealth, these being essential means of progressively guaranteeing the rights recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

30.The aims of the steps taken are to remove constraints on the sector’s development capacity, to increase cultivated areas, to boost cereal production, and to strengthen regional economies and markets for farm produce.

31.The imposition of export duties seriously harmed the competitiveness of small and medium mining enterprises, most of which are located in areas where poor infrastructure and high transport costs jeopardize jobs and have inevitable direct and indirect repercussions on employment and the supply chain.

32.Moreover, as stated in Decree No. 349/2016, Argentina is one of the few countries in the world where the above-mentioned duties apply.

33.As the Argentine Republic is a federal State, export duties are not shared out, with the result that their imposition leads to a concentration of tax revenue at the level of the national government, although the provinces are the original owners of the mineral resources.

34.In point of fact, the national government’s aim is to implement measures to reverse the current economic situation by generating conditions for reviving and increasing the competitiveness of various productive sectors, for preserving and creating jobs and thereby enhancing the country’s general prosperity.

Question 8

35.In addition to the constitutional guarantee of equality before the law for all inhabitants of the Nation, Act No. 23592 was passed in 1998. It punishes discriminatory acts and orders reparation for the moral and material harm caused. This Act is currently being updated with a view to widening the categories it now covers by expressly including other socially vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

36.Argentina has likewise implemented a large package of rules to ensure the full exercise of the rights of all persons on equal conditions, in particular with regard to sexual diversity: Same-sex Marriage Act, Gender Identity Act, Assisted Reproduction Act and the corresponding provisions of the revised Civil and Commercial Code.

37.Act No. 23592 on discriminatory acts, which punishes discriminatory acts and orders reparation for the moral and material harm caused, also applies.

38.The National Institute to Combat Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI) draws up public policies for addressing and eliminating inequality based on discriminatory practices and for fostering inclusion, participation and a transformation of social relations in order to consolidate democracy.

39.The Victim Support Department of INADI assists victims of discrimination. The Institute also works in the area of sexual diversity through a range of measures to improve the situation of the LGBTI community.

40.The annex on question 8 contains statistics on complaints related to gender/sexual identity during the period 2016–2018.

41.As for steps taken to enforce the provisions of the Gender Identity Act, INADI has taken action in cases where it has been breached, arranging for gender reassignment in order to respect self-perceived gender identity.

42.The Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security has adjusted the administrative resources of its offices in accordance with the principles of the Gender Identity Act and is drawing up a protocol on gender identity transition processes for employees.

43.With reference to the employment quota for transpersons, the Ministry’s Guideline on the Inclusive Employment of Transvestite, Transsexual and Transgender Persons has been drawn up and implemented. It extends training and employment insurance cover to persons whose gender identity does not coincide with the sex assigned to them at birth. The prime objective of this inclusive employment programme is to narrow the gap between legislative progress and the unequal opportunities of access to employment.

44.Act No. 14783 on an employment quota for transpersons has been enacted in Buenos Aires Province. While the offices of the provincial Ministry of Labour are in the process of adjusting their staff rules, 20 towns in the province have already followed suit and have their own gender quota by-laws.

45.Bills on employment quotas exist in a further 15 provinces of the country.

46.The Act on public policy to recognize the full exercise of citizenship by LGTBI persons has been approved in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires.

47.With regard to the employment quota for persons with disability, the Ministry is running schemes to encourage the participation and inclusion of these persons in the labour market on equal conditions.

48.In 2016 a group of psychologists and occupational therapists was set up to study the subject of disability in the workplace in order to ascertain the needs of Ministry employees with disability who, on 31 December 2017, made up 4.61 per cent of the total staff complement.

49.Measures have been adopted to make it easier for these persons to join the permanent civil service staff, since under Act No. 22431 no less than 4 per cent of the total staff complement must comprise suitably qualified persons with disability and posts must be reserved for them.

50.To this end, a Search and Registration System for Applicants with Disability is being implemented in order to shortlist persons in the system, to which 29 organizations can accede by using a password.

51.As far as the filling of posts through internal recruitment is concerned, by December 2017, 550 posts had been reserved for persons with disability at various entry levels of the staffing table.

52.Action to prevent discrimination in the workplace is likewise taken by the Tripartite Commission for Equal Opportunities (CTIO), a forum for dialogue among actors on the labour market (government, workers’ organizations and employers), which seeks to achieve agreements that promote equal opportunities at work.

Question 9

53.Decree No. 70/2017 does not modify the thrust of migratory policy established in Act No. 25871, on migration, or the rights embodied therein.

54.Accordingly Argentina took note of recommendation 107.184 made in the third cycle of the universal periodic review. The changes to migration law were justified by the severe difficulties encountered by Argentina in giving effect to expulsion orders against foreign nationals who were subject to statutory restrictions on their entry or permanent residence.

55.In fact, the special summary procedure for migrants for which provision is made in the new regulations respects migrants’ human rights and international law on the matter. In particular, a person’s right to be notified of the expulsion decision, their right to appeal against it (to both the administrative authorities and the courts) and their right to be heard by the competent authority, to be represented and to receive the assistance of an interpreter free of charge and consular assistance, are respected.

Question 10

56.In 2016 the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security began to consolidate and restructure the More and Better Work for Youth Programme implemented in 2008, in order to improve the employability of vulnerable young people.

57.Between its inception and January 2018, more than 1.2 million young people in the 18 to 24 age group took part in the programme.

58.Since 2017, substantial investments in strategies for links with the private sector (youth employment fairs, regional meetings) have resulted in a considerable increase in the supply of internships in real working environments.

59.In fact, 39,000 internships led to more than 6,000 young people starting real jobs (registered employment), double the figures for 2015 and 2016.

60.In some places there are also collaborative digital workspaces enabling young people to acquire the IT skills which are essential for their career.

61.In 2018 there are plans to maintain and step up these investments, which prove their worth when this section of the population joins the labour force.

62.The National Youth Institute runs various schemes:

(a)Casas del Futuro (Youth clubs for the future) Programme: these are places where young people can acquire skills for their first job and develop a life project. Here the focus is on capacity-building through traditional and digital workshops tailored to the socio-productive environment and on cultural, sport and artistic activities and assistance from an interdisciplinary team of professionals. They are in operation in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Rio Negro. In 2018, some 25,000 young people were enrolled in their activities;

(b)Acá Estamos Microcréditos , de la Idea al Proyecto (Microcredit — from concept to project): this is an action programme to promote young people’s ventures. It ranges from capacity-building in productive activities and business skills to facilitating the granting of microcredit in tandem with other State-run services. In 2017, training was provided for 1,000 young people. It is estimated that this figure will rise to 5,000 young people in 2018;

(c)Feria de Empleo y Capacitación (Jobs and training fairs) Programme which seeks to equip socially vulnerable youngsters with the skills they need to find a job. It comprises various activities: job fairs, events to establish contact between young people and national and provincial businesses, personal counselling on entry to the labour market and training in a variety of trades. In 2017, some 28,000 young people attended the various job fairs. In 2018, 11 job fairs are scheduled with double the attendance.

Question 11

63.The Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security is implementing policies and action to eliminate inequalities between men and women in the world of work and to promote equal access to the labour market. The Directorate for Equal Opportunities between Men and Women in the World of Work is responsible for pursuing this work through the Tripartite Commission for Equal Opportunities.

64.The Tripartite Commission is a tripartite forum for social dialogue between representatives of the government, trade unions and businesses in an attempt to reach comprehensive agreement.

65.Its purpose is to give the importance of women’s access to economic and social rights a permanent place on the public and political agenda and to secure their equality with men in the workplace.

66.The New Trades for Women Programme, which was carried out between 2011 and 2013, offered three kinds of capacity-building: training of local gender trainers of both sexes, awareness-raising for technical motor mechanic instructors and workshops on new careers for women.

67.Based on this experiment, as from 2016 further work was done on promoting and implementing mechanisms to integrate well-qualified women in better paid, higher level sectors of the labour market.

68.The aim is to incorporate gender mainstreaming in vocational training schemes, to improve women’s training and the conditions for their entry to the labour market, and to facilitate their access to employment by overcoming gender stereotypes.

69.In this way, training for and entry to trades which are greatly in demand, such as bricklayers, electricians, gas installers, plumbers, etc., is being facilitated for women by the imparting of non-traditional knowledge and skills.

Question 12

70.Resolution No. 470/2016 set up the Special Coordination Unit for the Inspection of Irregular Employment within the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security with the aim of analysing, investigating, assessing and inspecting unregistered labour in sectors where inspection is complicated, such as illegal subcontracting, employment fraud and/or social security fraud, in pursuance of Act No. 26940.

71.Since its implementation, two main lines of action have been pursued:

(a)Focus on activities with high rates of unregistered labour. Checks on registration levels of workers in the winegrowing sector under the Agreement on Trade Union Joint Responsibility in San Juan Province. In this case, direct and indirect checks revealed that some 70 per cent of labourers were unregistered during the grape harvest;

(b)Use of video surveillance equipment during labour inspections. In 2017, the Unit introduced new technological tools during labour inspections. It tested various kinds of equipment (drones, unmanned aerial vehicles and manual video cameras) and field technology. It upgraded planning and inspection procedures, trained staff and drafted a handbook on video inspection procedures;

(c)The use of this new technology is a big step forward in labour inspection reconnaissance, is a crucial means of locating businesses requiring inspection and helps to detect the unregistered labour of child and adolescent labour, health and safety conditions, forced labour and trafficking in persons for the purposes of labour exploitation;

(d)Similarly, its use in businesses covering large areas, or which are difficult to reach, facilitates inspection and makes it possible to survey the surroundings, provide their georeferenced location, collect images and calculate distances, limits and surface areas;

(e)Improved homing in on potential targets for inspection through the application of indicators of prima facie underdeclaration of workers, the comparison of complementary databases kept by various public authorities and closer coordination among institutions through cooperation between various public bodies.

Question 13

72.The main objective of the National Plan for the Regularization of Employment is to incorporate all workers into the social security system, thus ensuring that they can enjoy the rights to which they are entitled by law under conditions of freedom, equality, security and dignity. To that end the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security has launched verification campaigns around the country.

73.The Plan is complemented by a publicity and social awareness campaign whereby employees and workers are given material explaining current rules and procedures. This helps ensure compliance with labour law obligations, encourages greater commitment by the persons concerned and places everyone in a position to assume their responsibility.

74.Indicators showing the results obtained in terms of social security and employment registration under the National Plan for the Regularization of Employment 2005–2018 are attached in the annex on question 13.

75.With regard to incentives for companies, Act No. 26940 establishes a permanent scheme for employers of up to five workers, known as microemployers, who enjoy special benefits in the form of a 50 per cent reduction in employer contributions other than social security and occupational risk contributions.

76.During the first year, a 100 per cent reduction in contributions applies for each worker on the payroll, up to a maximum of seven. A reduction of 75 per cent applies in the second year.

77.The benefits also cover half-day workers, for whom the employer must pay 75 per cent of the contributions.

Question 14

78.First of all, it should be noted that the Argentine State does not take reprisals; its actions fall within the framework of the rule of law and the full exercise of constitutional powers.

79.Protests and trade union activities take place without restriction and are subject to full guarantees. Whenever citizens or trade unions have decided to engage in peaceful protest, they have never been impeded — whether before, during or after — from exercising their right to do so.

80.With regard to the registration of trade unions, the State keeps a close eye on unions’ applications for registration and legal capacity, which must comply with a range of regulatory requirements and therefore entail the constant active involvement of those concerned.

81.Irregularities in the applications have occasionally come to light, as well as failures to meet the requirements and other errors, such as the registration of persons who do not work in the relevant sector or a lack of correlation and consistency between the payroll data submitted and the information contained in the social security computer systems. Other issues that are often found include formal defects in the supporting documents, such as addresses that are non-existent or out of date.

82.In these cases, the trade union is notified so that it can comply with the legal requirements.

83.Such oversight in no way constitutes interference in the trade union’s activities; rather, it is part of administrative oversight to guarantee the freedom and democracy of trade unions as expressly recognized in the Constitution.

Question 15

84.Act No. 27160 of 2015 states that family allowances as provided for by Act No. 24714, with the exception of the maternity allowance, are adjustable.

85.Act No. 27431 of 2018 establishes that the adjustment rate shall be calculated by applying the adjustment to the family allowance and the updated income range of the family members included in the assessment. It also states that the adjustment rate may not decrease the allowance under any circumstances.

86.The adjustment is applied on a quarterly basis in March, June, September and December, with 70 per cent calculated on the basis of variations in the general consumer price index published by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses and 30 per cent based on the rate of variation in the average taxable remuneration of permanent workers. The adjustment for March 2018 was 5.71 per cent.

87.The maximum income provided for in article 3 of Act No. 24714 is adjusted according to the variation in taxable income and/or tax deductions for family responsibilities.

88.As regards the Universal Child Allowance, coverage was extended to taxpayers under the simplified tax regime (monotributistas) in March 2016, meaning that approximately 350,000 children were covered by the programme.

89.The Universal Child Allowance retains the same eligibility criteria in terms of health and education conditions (health checks, immunization and completion of the relevant level of schooling) as when it was introduced.

90.Currently, 9,192,011 children are in receipt of allowances from the National Social Security Administration. Of those, 3,988,558 receive the Universal Child Allowance.

91.As of April 2018, the child allowance of wage earners and the Universal Child Allowance were as follows:

Income bracket of the family unit (in pesos)

Amount (in pesos)

200–23 173

1 493

23 173.01–33 988

1 005

33 988.01–39 240

605

39 240.01–94 786

310

Universal Child Allowance

1 493

92.Both benefit schemes offer additional payments to persons who live in disadvantaged areas and/or have children with disabilities.

Question 16

93.Children with disabilities have the right to a lifelong allowance which is greater than the allowances mentioned above.

94.As of April 2018, the child disability allowance of wage earners was as follows:

Income bracket of the family unit (in pesos)

Amount per child with disabilities (in pesos)

0–23 173

4 869

23 173.01–33 988

3 442

33 988.01 and over

2 171

Universal Child Allowance for children with disabilities

4 869

95.Both benefit schemes offer additional payments to persons living in disadvantaged areas.

96.To apply for the allowance, adults with children with disabilities must present their single disability certificate.

97.Act No. 27260, passed in 2016, introduced a non-contributory subsystem into the family allowances regime that applies to beneficiaries of the Argentine Integrated Social Security System, the non-contributory pension scheme for invalidity and the Universal Pension for Older Persons. The subsystem will be financed with resources from the social security scheme.

98.Family allowances under the subsystem above are guaranteed through financing schemes established by Act No. 24241. The eligibility criteria and application procedures for the allowances are established under Act No. 24714.

Question 17

99.The Federal Social Rate and cash transfer programmes protect the living conditions of vulnerable persons. Although the time periods are different — which means the comparison is only provisional — on aggregate, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses, the population below the poverty line in the first half of 2017 was 28.6 per cent and fell to 25.7 per cent in the second half.

100.The Federal Social Rate is available to persons in vulnerable situations, such as retirees, pensioners, wage earners and taxpayers under the simplified tax regime whose income is less than twice the adjustable minimum living wage, persons under the simplified social tax regime, persons employed by private households and those in receipt of unemployment benefit or benefits from other social programmes.

101.More than 3 million individuals meet the criteria to receive electricity at the social rate. Beneficiaries of the electricity social rate are granted a 100 per cent subsidy on a base consumption of 150 kWh per month and are entitled to a 50 per cent reduction in the cost of any excess consumption.

102.More than 1.5 million people are eligible for the special natural gas rate. The base consumption, which varies according to the supplier, is fully subsidized, and beneficiaries receive 25 per cent of the cost of any excess consumption. Homes that are not connected to the gas network have access to the “Hogar” (Home) programme, which pays subsidies of around 75 per cent of the reference price of a 10 kg cylinder of gas via bank transfer.

103.In December 2017, 2.7 million people benefited from the programme.

104.In addition to expanding family allowances for taxpayers under the simplified tax regime, inconsistencies with other social programmes were removed. Further initiatives taken include:

(a)The Historical Reparation Programme for Retirees, which updated payments depending on the social security contribution history;

(b)Universal Pension for Older Persons, for those who were unable to make contributions;

(c)Complementary Social Wage Transition Programme, which grants, under the Social Emergency Act, an additional monthly entitlement of 4,000 pesos to persons who are already covered by other programmes or who work in the grass-roots economy.

105.The policies mentioned above complement existing programmes, including the “Hacemos Futuro” (Creating Futures) and the “Jóvenes con Más y Mejor Trabajo” (Young People with More and Better Work) programmes.

Questions 18 and 19

106.In March 2018, the Ministry of the Interior, Public Works and Housing was restructured and the Secretariat for Urban Infrastructure was placed in charge of policies covering the design, financing, oversight and implementation of comprehensive urban planning projects to completely reshape well-balanced, inclusive and sustainable towns and cities.

107.The National Housing Plan, whose main objectives are to prevent forced evictions and to ensure universal access to housing, is implemented through externally funded programmes that incorporate social and environmental safeguards into the operating manuals.

108.Relocations are considered only as a last resort in case of an environmental risk. They are carried out with the consent of the local residents in order to transfer them to a better location to avoid forced eviction.

109.Broadly speaking, the Secretariat channels funds into drinking water, sanitation, drainage and urban development and housing projects, as well as urban infrastructure in general.

110.It also seeks to carry out projects that can link into the priorities of other government sectors that explicitly request it for a specific territory, and that have funds set aside for such development. This approach aims to enhance the relationship between projects and developments, thereby improving the quality and impact of public investment.

111.The emphasis in government investment is on regional development and in particular on improving urban infrastructure, which contributes to residents’ well-being.

112.The key criteria for financing projects include: (i) geographical type (by province, municipality or commune) on a basis of equity and solidarity, and prioritizing developmental equivalence; (ii) towns with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants; (iii) an urbanization index yielding a ranking of all municipalities in the country based on their overall level of urbanization, comprising a total of 11 indicators distributed as follows: urban infrastructure, 25 per cent; employment, 25 per cent; housing, 20 per cent; education, 15 per cent; and health, 15 per cent. These indicators made it possible to identify 900 vulnerable towns, namely the ones with the lowest index of urbanization.

Question 20

113.A range of measures were adopted in response to the significant number of socially vulnerable children and adolescents.

114.First, the Ministry of Social Development expanded the transfer programmes, implemented a national plan and put in place various other programmes targeting children in vulnerable situations.

115.The National Early Childhood Plan was launched to feed, care for and occupy children aged between 45 days and 4 years while their parents work or study. Under the Plan, more than 1,150 early childhood facilities across the country were opened or expanded in 2017.

116.Data from the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses has shown a rise in kindergarten attendance among 3-year-olds, from 42.9 per cent in 2016 to 54.4 per cent in 2017.

117.The policy on children has a positive impact in terms of ensuring equal opportunities for mothers when accessing employment and education.

118.Another specific initiative is the Early Years Programme, which forms part of the National Early Childhood Plan. Its goal is to enhance child-rearing skills among vulnerable families with children aged 0 to 4 years by providing training to provincial and local institutions, and community networks. In 2017, the Programme reached 30,940 families in 88 localities across 19 provinces.

119.Furthermore, the National Food Security Plan currently being implemented aims to meet the nutritional needs of children up to the age of 14, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and older persons over 70 living in unfavourable socioeconomic conditions.

120.Its main initiatives include:

(a)A centralized food card (222,000 beneficiaries);

(b)A federal food card (1 million beneficiaries);

(c)Reinforcement for school meals services (18,000 beneficiary schools);

(d)Community canteens (1,200 assisted community canteens).

121.Furthermore, the National Social Protection Plan provides socioeconomic support, assistance, monitoring and advancement services to families with children aged between 0 and 4 living in poverty. In 2017, 5,200 families received assistance.

122.Second, the Sumar programme of the Ministry of Health covers mothers and children aged 6 to 19. The programme sends a capitation grant to the provinces, 60 per cent of it based on the number of persons registered for basic effective coverage and 40 per cent going towards specific health-care targets. Current coverage is 15 million people.

123.Information has already been provided on the changes made by National Social Security Administration to the allowance adjustment formula in order to maintain the purchasing power.

124.Other measures with the same aim include the elimination of inconsistencies between the Universal Child Allowance, the Pregnancy Allowance for Social Protection and other social programmes and benefits; the system of VAT refunds for retirees and pensioners whose pensions do not exceed the minimum; and National Social Security Administration entitlements (universal child and pregnancy allowances) for food purchases paid for using a debit card.

125.The purpose of the Pregnancy Allowance for Social Protection requirements is to have the mother and fetus undergo medical and health checks, to reduce maternal mortality and to meet objectives in terms of providing medical care and coverage to the most socially vulnerable pregnant women.

Question 21

126.“Territory” is a core aspect of the world view of indigenous peoples, since it is a key component of the development of their culture, identity and way of life.

127.The Indigenous Community Land Survey Programme of the National Institute of Indigenous Affairs was launched under Act No. 26160, which suspended evictions from lands traditionally occupied by indigenous communities and provided for the technical, legal and cadastral surveying of occupied lands. The Act was renewed in 2013 and again in 2017 to extend the suspension period until November 2021, given that there are indigenous communities that have yet to be surveyed.

128.The Institute made completing the surveys a priority, as set out in the chapter on indigenous peoples of the National Human Rights Plan 2017–2020.

129.The areas of work of the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development comprise specific projects that involve working on the ground with various stakeholders to implement best practices in terms of sustainable land management.

130.The project for the sustainable management of land in the dry regions of the north-west of Argentina (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ARG/14/G55) will run until the end of 2019. It seeks to maintain and improve the flow of agroecosystem services in order to sustain the communities’ way of life and reduce pressure on natural resources from land use. The project addresses the issue of land degradation and the loss of ecosystem functions in the region of Cuyo and the north-west of Argentina (Jujuy, Salta, Catamarca, La Rioja, Tucumán, San Juan, Mendoza and San Luis). In particular, work is being done with small producers in local communities and with provincial organizations and institutions to prevent, mitigate and adapt to land degradation.

131.The issue of pesticide use has been the subject of numerous studies, the majority of which were conducted with State funding.

132.Several research papers on the topic have been included in the annex to question 21.

133.It is worth noting, however, that the State has affirmed that an alleged rise in protests from civil society organizations does not constitute an increasing body of scientific evidence on the health impact of agrochemicals.

134.In addition, the National Service for Agrifood Quality and Safety is implementing a plan to take annual samples to identify pollutants spread across the country in the course of the year. The results show the impact of control measures put in place by specific programmes, which suggests that the use of agrochemicals is a good agricultural practice that does not pose a risk to consumers.

135.Moreover, Argentina regulates activities related to genetically modified organisms for agricultural use. The National Advisory Commission on Agricultural Biotechnology is made up of representatives from the public and private sector and from the Biotechnology Directorate of the Ministry of Agro-industry. It considers applications to conduct activities relating to genetically modified organisms and assesses the potential risks of introducing transgenic crops into agricultural ecosystems based on scientific and technical information as well as qualitative data on biosecurity.

136.Lastly, it is worth clarifying that the production and sale of seeds and products derived from transgenic soya was first authorized in Argentina in 1996 under resolution No. 167 of the Secretariat for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

Question 22

137.All fossil fuel exploration and production, conventional or not, is subject to national and provincial regulation.

138.Since the adoption of Act No. 26197, the provinces have administered their own oil and gas fields — with regard to environmental impact assessments and public consultations prior to development projects, for example — exercising control over and oversight of permits and concessions and enforcing legal and/or contractual obligations.

139.The provinces producing oil and gas have drafted regulations specific to that business. Neuquén, for instance, has a law (Act No. 2600, on environmental certification, and implementing Decree No. 1905/2009) on environmental impact assessments, as does Chubut (Act No. 5439, or the Environmental Code, and implementing Decree No. 185/2009). Environmental impact assessments and statements require citizen participation in the form of public hearings. Other provinces that produce oil and gas have adopted similar regulations.

140.Other regulations applicable to oil and gas exploration and production in Neuquén, conventional or not, include:

(a)Act No. 1875, the Environment Act. Annex VII — Rules and procedures governing environmental protection during hydrocarbon exploration and production;

(b)Act No. 899, the Water Code;

(c)Act No. 2566, on drilling concessionaires, dry location systems, management of solid waste, treatment of mud and cuttings in appropriate installations, and environmental impact studies;

(d)Order No. 29/2012, on approval of procedural standards for enhanced oil recovery and injection wells and disposal wells of all types.

141.There are also national laws — Act No. 24051, on Hazardous Waste, Act No. 25675, on the National Environmental Policy and Act No. 25688, on Minimum Budgets for Water Resource Management.

142.Studies conducted by the Directorate General for the Environment of the European Commission show that the risk of contamination of groundwater potentially used as drinking water during well construction is low or insignificant. Casing, cementing and other mechanical isolation mechanisms protect aquifers during drilling, fracturing and production. Wells are designed and constructed in such a way as to prevent fluids from being carried or migrating between subsurface strata. There are specific technical guidelines issued by internationally recognized agencies on the steps that must be taken to design and monitor the integrity of the wells used in hydraulic fracturing operations.

143.The likelihood of fluid (water with additives, gas and/or petroleum) reaching drinking water through fractures “is remote where there is a large depth separation between drinking water sources and the producing zone”, as is the case in Argentina.

144.In technical documentation, a large depth separation is defined as starting at 600 metres, a distance that is amply exceeded in Neuquén, where the water table is estimated to be at 300 metres below the well head, while the producing zone (the Vaca Muerta Formation) is between 2,500 and 3,000 metres below the well head, and the length of the fracture is an estimated 100 metres. The underground geology also features highly impermeable strata that naturally insulate the aquifers, preventing the movement of fluids.

145.In addition, Neuquén Decree No. 1483/12 prohibits using groundwater suitable for the supply of population centres or for irrigation in the drilling and completion of unconventional wells. Under the Decree, companies are also required to submit an affidavit indicating the estimated volume and source of water to be used in well drilling and completion and to treat flowback in accordance with the discharge parameters established in provincial Act No. 899. The Decree also prohibits the discharge of flowback into bodies of surface water and requires other steps to prevent potential negative effects.

Question 23

146.As part of the comprehensive strategy of the National Chagas Disease Programme, various actors in the health sector take steps to prevent Chagas disease and control its spread. There are three levels of prevention: prevention of the disease (primary prevention), diagnosis and specific treatment (secondary prevention) and rehabilitation (tertiary prevention).

147.A project to reduce Chagas-related mortality and morbidity by eliminating vector-borne transmission of the disease and controlling or eliminating the non-vector-borne spread of Trypanosoma cruzi was launched in 2014. The project involved action in 10 provinces in areas where the risk of Chagas disease is high to moderate (Catamarca, Chaco, Córdoba, Corrientes, Formosa, Mendoza, Salta, Santiago del Estero, San Juan and Tucumán)

148.Two hundred and fifty-eight people were hired for vector control and other preventive tasks, including entomological assessments and chemical treatment of dwellings in rural and peri-urban areas where the disease is endemic, checks of pregnant women and etiologic treatment of persons in the acute phase of the disease, children, young people under the age of 19 and women of childbearing age.

149.In 2017, 325,114 dwellings in the endemic area of the country were assessed; the vector was found in 8,964 (2.76 per cent) of them and 44,498 were sprayed with pyrethroid insecticides. In the provinces characterized by a moderate to high risk of vector-borne transmission, the household infestation rate was 7.14 per cent.

150.Vector monitoring activities were carried out in 82 of the country’s 165 medium- and high-risk departments and in 61 of its 117 low-risk departments. Only 1 out of 36 suspected cases turned out to be acute, vector-borne Chagas disease.

151.Throughout the country, 299,764 pregnant women were tested for Chagas disease; the prevalence of the disease in that population was found to be 2.06 per cent. In addition, 2,109 newborns exposed to congenital Chagas disease were tested, and 4.4 per cent were found to have the infection.

152.On-demand testing was carried out on 129,803 persons, of whom 7.2 per cent tested positive.

153.Population studies involved 69,635 persons, of whom 3,789 (5.4 per cent) tested positive.

154.As part of the National Blood Plan, all blood donors (612,746) are checked. Seroprevalence in the public sector fell from 4.4 per cent in 2000 to 1.49 per cent in 2015, with a range of 15.65 to 0.52 per cent.

Question 24

155.Article 8 of Act No. 26862 is categorical in asserting that the public health sector, social welfare institutions, providers of prepaid health plans and, regardless of the legal form they take, all entities providing medical care to their subscribers must cover the techniques referred to by the World Health Organization as forms of medically assisted reproduction.

156.Article 8 defines the scope of those techniques and states that the Ministry of Health may not introduce restrictions or limitations that would exclude users of the techniques for their sexual orientation or marital status.

157.The National Programme for Medically Assisted Reproduction, whose objectives include identifying the measures needed to ensure equal access to the practices regulated by Act No. 26862, was established by resolution No. 2190-E/2016 of the Ministry of Health.

158.There is also a supervisory body, the Office of the Superintendent of Health Services, which handles complaints regarding non-compliance in respect of medical coverage and through which proceedings for such non-compliance are conducted.

159.The Office’s unit for user support and services has not received any complaints of failure to provide coverage under Act No. 26682 on grounds of marital status or sexual orientation.

Question 25

160.The Ministry of Health channels its efforts in this respect through the National Tobacco Control Programme, the National Programme to Combat Physical Inactivity and the National Programme for a Healthy Diet and the Prevention of Obesity.

161.The measures taken as part of those programmes are described in the annex to question 25.

162.With regard to tobacco use, in addition to the measures mentioned in the annex, the Ministry of Health, as part of the National Commission for the Prevention and Control of Tobacco Use, is working with other levels of the executive and legislative branches to promote the ratification of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

163.The Commission is a multisectoral body coordinated by the Ministry of Health. It is made up of civil society organizations, academic organizations, State agencies and international institutions such as the Pan American Health Organization.

Question 26

164.In 2016, 245 women died while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of their pregnancy from causes related to or worsened by pregnancy. In the same year, there were 728,035 live births, for a maternal mortality rate of 3.4 per 10,000 live births.

165.An analysis of maternal mortality over the past 10 years shows that the absolute number of maternal deaths, like the maternal mortality rate, has fluctuated around a similar figure, except in 2009, when the rate reached a high (5.5 per 10,000 live births) as a result of the indirect impact of influenza A (H1N1). The rate then fell until 2013, rising again in 2014 before falling once more in 2016.

Maternal mortality (rates and absolute numbers) and number of live births. Country total (2007–2016)

Year

Maternal deaths

Live births

Maternal mortality rate (per 10,000 live births)

2007

306

700 792

4.4

2008

296

746 460

4.0

2009

410

745 336

5.5

2010

331

756 176

4.4

2011

302

758 042

4.0

2012

258

738 318

3.5

2013

245

754 603

3.2

2014

290

777 012

3.7

2015

298

770 040

3.9

2016

245

728 035

3.4

Percentage change

- 19.9

- 3.9

- 22.7

166.Direct obstetrical causes were responsible for 55.1 per cent of maternal deaths in 2016, whereas 17.6 per cent of maternal deaths were the result of complications following abortion and 27.3 per cent had indirect obstetrical causes.

167.The main direct obstetrical causes were post-partum complications, including sepsis (17.6 per cent), hypertensive disorders (13.9 per cent) and post- or antepartum haemorrhaging (6.9 and 4.5 per cent respectively).

Maternal mortality by cause. Country total (2016)

Groups of causes

Maternal deaths

Number

Percentage

All

245

100

Abortion

43

17.6

Direct obstetrical causes

135

55.1

Sepsis and post-partum complications

41

16.7

Hypertensive disorders

34

13.9

Post-partum haemorrhaging

17

6.9

Ante partum haemorrhaging

11

4.5

Unidentified obstetrical cause of death

7

2.9

Other direct causes

25

10.2

Indirect obstetrical causes

67

27.3

Respiratory diseases

19

7.8

Circulatory diseases

13

5.3

Diseases of the digestive system

8

3.3

HIV-related disease

1

0.4

Other indirect causes

26

10.6

168.As to differences by jurisdiction, while the national maternal mortality rate is 3.4 per 10,000 live births, it is higher in nine jurisdictions: Catamarca, Chaco, Formosa, La Rioja, Mendoza, Misiones, Salta, San Luis and Tierra del Fuego. The province of Formosa had the highest rate (12.3 per 10,000 live births). In the province of La Pampa there were no maternal deaths recorded in 2016.

Maternal mortality per 10,000 live births, comparison (2007 and 2016). Total for the country and its jurisdictions

Jurisdiction

2016

Country total

3.4

Autonomous City of Buenos Aires

1.5

Buenos Aires

3.4

Catamarca

10.5

Córdoba

2.8

Corrientes

4.0

Chaco

4.1

Chubut

1

Entre Ríos

2.7

Formosa

12.3

Jujuy

3.2

La Pampa

0

La Rioja

4.9

Mendoza

3.9

Misiones

3.9

Neuquén

1.8

Río Negro

1.7

Salta

6.5

San Juan

2.9

San Luis

6.7

Santa Cruz

3.3

Santa Fe

1.6

Santiago del Estero

2.9

Tucumán

2.8

Tierra del Fuego

3.5

169.In analysing this issue, the demographics of each jurisdiction and the coverage and quality of their systems for recording deaths should be kept in mind.

170.As Argentina is a federal State, the Ministry of Health’s National Directorate for Mothers, Children and Adolescents proposes strategies designed to better organize the provision of maternal care and optimize the use of the resources and technologies available.

171.The strategy of decentralizing perinatal care, for instance, is regarded as a means of ensuring that births take place in appropriate health-care facilities. Decentralization requires that different jurisdictions make joint efforts to establish channels that ensure that every mother and child has access to the necessary care.

172.Work is also being done to improve the management and organization of obstetrics services — for example, technical assistance and support are provided to the different jurisdictions, the aim being to alleviate the shortage of obstetrics specialists.

173.In addition, training in emergency obstetrics is offered to improve the quality of care in critical situations.

174.Comprehensive post-abortion care is essential if the number of maternal deaths in the country is to be reduced. Such care has three core elements: (a) emergency treatment using vacuum aspiration; (b) counselling in reproductive health; and (c) referral to the relevant responsible parenthood services after the abortion.

Question 27

175.The major social and health strategies used by the Ministry of Health to improve the availability and accessibility of mental health services are as follows:

(a)Development of guidelines on the organization and operations of mental health services, including on the coordination of the efforts made by providers of mental health services (general hospitals, private clinics and hospitals, community day-care centres, housing arrangements with different levels of support and the like). Little by little, this network is taking the place of single-purpose institutions;

(b)Fieldwork: the Comprehensive Mental Health Networks team works to improve mental health care, taking a human rights-based approach;

(c)Creation of psychosocial intervention teams;

(d)Training for members of staff in the primary and secondary levels of care; the training is informed by an interdisciplinary and intersectoral community care model and focuses on problems such as suicide, emergencies, substance abuse and severe disorders. The aim is to encourage prevention, therapy and rehabilitation, using tools from the World Health Organization;

(e)A training programme in Rational Therapy in psychosocial interventions, which uses the Guide to Good Prescribing produced by the World Health Organization;

(f)An assisted living project for users of mental health services;

(g)National census of persons hospitalized in mental health facilities.

176.In institutional terms, the National Interministerial Commission on Policies for Mental Health and Addiction and an honorary advisory board for issues relating to mental health and addiction have been established. The latter institution, composed of 30 civil society organizations, was set up as a participatory monitoring body under the regulations to Act No. 26657.

Question 28

177.The Ministry of Education helps the members of the technical staff of the Youth and Adult Education Directorates carry out literacy training in vocational training facilities.

178.Since 2016, the technical teams of a number of jurisdictions have been given assistance with the formulation of provincial resolutions on the opening of literacy centres. At the same time, work on a database for monitoring literacy initiatives is under way.

179.Action is also being taken to improve the learning opportunities on offer in those centres and help manage the educational progress of students who have learned to read and write in adult education courses, by creating links to vocational training.

180.The policies, programmes and other initiatives carried out by the Ministry of Education to combat grade repetition and reduce dropout rates include the following:

(a)Policies for the improvement of teacher training — The National Teacher Training Institute pursues the policy on teacher training articulated in the National Teacher Training Plan 2016–2021, a plan designed to provide tools to help students develop their capacities for communication, problem solving, critical thinking, learning and group work. In 2017, more than 900,000 teachers from preschools and primary and secondary schools worked on issues connected with the teaching of reading in the areas of language, mathematics and science;

(b)Making preschool universal — With a view to ensuring greater opportunity and the same point of departure for everyone, efforts are being made to promote universal access to preschool, starting at age 3. The proposal entails expanding the construction of facilities, providing schools with equipment and technology and making improvements to teacher training and curricula;

(c)Integrated pathways — Designed to help students deal with the difficulties that arise as they transition through the education system, they allow for various forms of support;

(d)Educational inclusion — This initiative involves building the capacity of educational institutions in respect of harmonious relations in school, the inclusion of students with disabilities, the prevention of addiction, mediation and the rights of children and adolescents. For students with disabilities, the Ministry of Education facilitates support along the learning pathway, in accordance with domestic and international guidelines on inclusion;

(e)“Read to learn” Programme — The Programme provides access to books and gives a boost to reading and writing in compulsory schooling by distributing textbooks and/or literature every year and through school libraries. The distribution of books is accompanied by educational activities to encourage reading and writing, aimed at students, families and communities;

(f)Improvement of education in rural areas — The improvement of all levels of education in rural areas by means of increased resource allocation, better equipment, school projects linked to local development, specific teacher training and other measures;

(g)Innovation — Secundaria Federal 2030 promotes the redesign of the teaching and institutional structure of secondary schools throughout the country, the aim being to ensure that all young people finish their compulsory education;

(h)Digital education policies.

181.The Comprehensive National Plan for Digital Education seeks to encourage teaching innovations and digital literacy, including educational initiatives and projects related to information and communication technologies, at all educational levels. One of its components is the Schools of the Future Programme, which targets 3,000 public schools and is focused on the development of an innovative model of education.

182.The National School Connectivity Plan, which is aimed at ensuring the country’s public schools have access to the Internet by 2019, will have an impact on more than 45,000 schools.

183.Finally, school attendance and dropout rates can be found in the annex on question 28.

Question 29

184.The globalization of science, technology and productive innovation in recent years has led to significant progress in the design and execution of innovation and development projects with input from the productive sectors of the economy, both domestic and international.

185.These initiatives, implemented as they are in priority areas, produce outcomes that make progress towards solving social problems possible and improve the quality of life of marginalized groups.

186.Key cooperation programmes have been carried out with the Argentina-China Food Science and Technology Centre, the Vaccine Research Centre (with Cuba), the Argentina-Germany University Centre, the Argentina-Brazil Biotechnology Centre and the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET)-Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine Partner Institute.

187.In addition, the bioeconomy and research in marine sciences with countries such as France, Canada, Germany, the United States of America and the Nordic countries have been key to research projects that have a socioeconomic impact.

188.In the health sector, there have been public-private partnerships with laboratories and research centres in the United Kingdom and Denmark. Finally, there have been initiatives in agro-industry, environmental sciences and space sciences with France and Italy.

189.In addition, Argentina has participated actively in regional cooperation programmes, promoting the strategic partnerships and the development systems that will facilitate technology transfers and patent applications.

190.In recent years, cooperation with the European Union has been a strategic component of Argentine science and technology policy, and it has led to great strides in issues related to the bioeconomy, agro-industry, infrastructure, health and the environment.