Economic and Social Council


E/C.12/2008/224 March 2009

Original: ENGLISH



Note by the Secretary-General

In accordance with article 17 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Economic and Social Council, by its resolution 1988 (LX) of 11 May 1976, established a programme under which the States parties to the Covenantwould furnish in stages the reports referred to in article 16 of the Covenant and the Secretary-General, at the Council's request, subsequently drew up an appropriate set of general guidelines. In response to the introduction of a new reporting cycle, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, at its fifth session, held from 26 November to 14 December 1990, adopted a set of revisedgeneral guidelines which replaced the original guidelines.

The purpose of reporting guidelines is to advise States parties on the form and content of their reports, so as to facilitate the preparation of reports and ensure that reports are comprehensive and presented in a uniform mannerby States parties.


The Committee has decided to replace the revised general guidelines (E/C.12/1991/1) by the present guidelines to take into account the harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties (HRI/GEN/2/Rev.5), as well as the evolving practice of the Committee in relation to the application of the Covenant, as reflected in its concluding observations, general comments and statements.

The text of the guidelines on treaty-specific documentsto be submitted by States parties under articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant is contained in the annex to the present document.


G uidelines on treaty-specific documents to be submitted by States parties under articles 16 and 17 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

A. The revised reporting system and organization of information to be included in the common core document and in the treaty -specific document submitted to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

1.State reports submitted under the harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties consist of two parts: a common core document and treaty-specific documents. The common core document should contain general information about the reporting State, the general framework for the protection and promotion of human rights, as well as information on non-discrimination and equality, andeffective remedies, in accordance with the harmonized guidelines.

2. The treaty-specific document submitted to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rightsshould not repeat information included in the common core document or merely list or describe the legislation adopted by theState party. Rather, it should contain specific information relating to the implementation, in lawand in fact,of articles 1 to 15 of the Covenant, taking into account the general comments of the Committee, as well as information on recent developments in law and practice affecting the full realization of the rights recognized in the Covenant. It should also contain information on the concrete measures taken towards that goal, and the progress achieved, including – except for initial treaty-specific documents – information on the steps taken to address issues raised by the Committee in the concluding observations on the State party’s previous report, or in its general comments.

3. In relation to the rights recognized in the Covenant, the treaty-specific document should indicate:

Whether the State party has adopted a national framework law,policies andstrategies for the implementation of each Covenant right, identifying the resources available for that purpose and the most cost-effective ways of using such resources;

Any mechanisms in place to monitor progress towards the full realization of the Covenant rights, including identification of indicators and related national benchmarks in relation to each Covenant right, in addition to the information provided under appendix 3 of the harmonized guidelines and taking into account the framework and tables of illustrative indicators outlined by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) (HRI/MC/2008/3);

Mechanisms in place to ensure that a State party’s obligations under the Covenant are fully taken into account in its actions as a member of international organizations and international financial institutions, as well as when negotiating and ratifying international agreements, in order to ensure that economic, social and cultural rights, particularly of the most disadvantaged and marginalized groups, are not undermined;

The incorporation and direct applicability of each Covenant right in the domestic legal order, with reference to specific examples of relevant case law;

The judicial and other appropriate remedies in place enabling victims to obtain redress in case their Covenant rights have been violated;

Structural or other significant obstacles arising from factors beyond the State party’s control which impede the full realization of the Covenant rights;

Statistical data on the enjoyment of each Covenant right, disaggregated by age, gender, ethnic origin, urban/rural population and other relevant status, on an annual comparative basis over the past five years.

4. The treaty-specific document should be accompanied by a sufficient number of copies in one of the working languages of the Committee (English, French, Russian and Spanish)of all other supplementary documentation which the State party may wish to have distributed to all members of the Committee to facilitate the consideration of the report.

5. Ifa State party is party to any of the ILO Conventions listed in appendix 2 of the harmonized guidelines, or to any other relevant conventions of United Nations specialized agencies, and has already submitted reports to the supervisory committee(s) concernedthat are relevant to any of the rights recognized in the Covenant, itshouldappendthe respective parts of those reports rather than repeat the information in the treaty-specific document. However, all matters which arise under the Covenant and are not fully covered in those reports should be dealt within the present treaty-specific document.

6. Periodic reportsshould address directly the suggestions and recommendations of the previous concluding observations.

B. Part of the treaty -specific document submitted to the Committee relating to general provisions of the Covenant

Article 1 of the Covenant

7. In what manner has the right to self-determination been implemented?

8. Indicate the ways and meansby which the State party recognizes and protects the rights of indigenous communities, if any, to ownership of the lands and territories which they traditionally occupy or use as traditional sources of livelihood. Also indicate the extent to which indigenous and local communities are duly consulted, and whether their prior informed consent is sought, in any decision-making processes affecting their rights and interests under the Covenant, and provide examples.

Article 2

9. Indicate the impact of international economic and technical assistance and co-operation, whether received or provided by the State party, on the full realization of each of the Covenant rights in the State party or, as the case may be, in other countries, especially developing countries.

10. In addition to information provided in the common core document ( paras. 50 to 58 of the harmonized guidelines), provide disaggregated and comparative statistical data on the effectiveness of specific anti-discrimination measures and the progress achieved towards ensuring equal enjoyment of each of the Covenant rights by all, in particular the disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups.

11. If the State party is a developing country, provide information on any restrictions imposed under article 2, paragraph 3, of the Covenant, on the enjoyment by non-nationals of the economic rights recognized in the Covenant.

Article 3

12. What steps have been taken to eliminate direct and indirect discrimination based on sex in relation to each of the rights recognized in the Covenant, and to ensure that men and women enjoy these rights on a basis of equality, in law and in fact?

13. Indicate whether the State party has adopted gender equality legislation and the progress achieved in the implementation of such legislation.Also indicate whether any gender-based assessment of the impact of legislation and policies has been undertaken to overcome traditional cultural stereotypes that continue to negatively affect the equal enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by men and women.

Article s 4 and 5

14. See paragraph 40 (c) of the harmonized guidelines on a common core document.

C . Part of the report relating to specific rights

Article 6

15. Provide information on effective measures taken to reduce unemploymentincluding on:

(a) The impact of targeted employment programmesin place to achieve full and productive employment among persons and groups considered particularly disadvantaged, in particular women, young persons, older persons, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities, in rural and deprived urban areas; and

(b) The impact of measures to facilitate re-employment of workers, especially women and long-term unemployed workers, who are made redundant as a result of privatization, downsizing and economic restructuring of public and private enterprises.

16. Provide information on work in the informal economy in the State party, including its extent and the sectors with a large percentage of informal workers, and the measures taken to enable them to move out of the informal economy, as well as on measures taken to ensure access by informal workers, in particular older workers and women, to basic services and social protection.

17. Describe the legal safeguards in place to protect workers from unfair dismissal.

18.Indicate whattechnical and vocational training programmes are in place in the State party and their impact on empowering the workforce,especiallydisadvantaged and marginalized individuals, to enter or re-enter the labour market.

Article 7

19.Indicate whether a national minimum wage has been legally established, and specify the categories of workers to which it applies, as well as the number of persons covered by each category. If any category of workers is not covered by the national minimum wage, explain the reasons why. In addition, indicate:

(a)Whether a system of indexation and regular adjustment is in place to ensure that the minimum wage is periodically reviewed and determined at a level sufficient to provide all workers, including those who are not covered by a collective agreement,and their families, with an adequate standard of living; and

(b) Any alternative mechanisms in place, in the absence of a national minimum wage, to ensure that all workers receive wages sufficient to provide an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families.

20.Provide information on working conditions for all workers, including overtime, paid and unpaid leave and on the measures taken to reconcile professional, family and personal life.

21. Indicate the impact of the measures taken to ensure that women with the same qualifications do not work in lower-paid positionsthan men, in accordance with the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.

22. Indicate whether the State party has adopted and effectively implemented legislation that specifically criminalizes sexual harassment in the workplace, and describe the mechanisms to monitor such implementation. Also indicate the number of registered cases, the sanctions imposed on perpetrators and the measures taken to compensate and assist victims of sexual harassment.

23. Indicatewhat legal, administrative or other provisions have been taken to ensuresafety and healthy conditions at the workplace and their enforcement in practice.

Article 8

24. Indicate:

(a) What substantive or formal conditions, if any, must be fulfilled to form or join the trade union of one's choice. Also indicate whether there are any restrictions on the exercise of the right to form or join trade unions by workers, and how they have been applied in practice;and(b) How trade unions are guaranteed independence to organize their activities without interference, as well asto federate and join international trade union organizations, and the legal and de factorestrictions, if any, on the exercise of this right.

25. Provide information on collective bargaining mechanisms in the State party and their impact on labour rights.

26. Indicate:

(a) Whether the right to strike isconstitutionally or legally guaranteed and to what extent such guarantees are observed in practice;

(b) Anyrestrictions on the right to strike in the public and private sectorsandtheir application in practice; and

(c) The definition of essential services for which strikes may be prohibited.

Article 9

27. Indicate whether there is universal social security coverage in the State party. Also indicate which of the following branches of social security are covered: health care,sickness,old age,unemployment,employment injury,family and child support,maternity,disability,and survivors and orphans.

28. Indicate whether there are legally established and periodically reviewed minimum amounts of benefits, including pensions, and whether they are sufficient to ensure an adequate standard of living for recipients and their families.

29. Indicatewhether the social security system also guarantees non-contributory social assistance allowances for disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and families who are not covered by the contributory schemes.

30. Indicate whether the public social security schemes described above are supplemented by any private schemes or informal arrangements. If so, describe these schemes and arrangements and their inter-relationship with the public schemes.

31. Indicate if there is equal enjoyment by men and women of pension rights as regards the age of access, qualifying periods and amounts.

32.Provide information on social security programmes, including informal schemes, to protect workers in the informal economy, in particular in relation to health care, maternity and old age.

33. Indicate to what extent non-nationals benefit from non-contributory schemes for income support, access tohealth care and family support.

Article 10

34.Indicate how the State party guarantees the right of men and,particularly, women to enter into marriage with their full and free consent and to establish a family.

35. Provide information on the availability, coverage and funding of social services to support families, as well as on legal provisions in place to ensure equal opportunities for all families, in particular poor families, families from ethnic minorities, and single parentfamilies, in relation to:

(a) Child care; and

(b) Social services that enable older persons and persons with disabilities to remain in their normal living environment for as long as possible and to receive adequate health and social care when they are dependent.

36. Provide information on the system of maternity protection in the State party, including working conditions and prohibition of dismissal during pregnancy. In particular, indicate:

(a) Whether it also applies to women involved in atypical work and women who are not covered by work-related maternity benefits;

(b) The duration of paid maternity leave before and after confinement and the cash, medical and other support measuresprovided during pregnancy, confinement and after childbirth;and

(c) Whether paternity leave is granted to men, and parental leave to men and women.

37. Indicate the measures of protection and assistance taken on behalf of children and young persons, including:

(a) Age limits below which the paid employment of children in different occupations is prohibited under the law of the State party andthe application of criminal law provisions in place punishing the employment of under-aged children and the use of forced labour of children;

(b) Whether any national survey has been undertaken in the State party on the nature and extent of child labour and whether there is a national action plan to combat child labour; and

(c) The impact of measures taken to protect children against work in hazardous conditions harmful to their health and against exposure to various forms of violence and exploitation.

38. Provide information on the legislation and mechanisms in place to protect the economic, social and cultural rights of older persons in the State party, in particular on the implementation of laws and programmes against abuse, abandon, negligence and ill-treatment of older persons.

39. Provide information on the economic and social rights of asylum seekers and their families and on legislation and mechanisms in place for family reunification of migrants.

40. Indicate:

(a) Whether there is legislation in the State party that specifically criminalizes acts of domestic violence, in particular violence against women and children, including marital rape and sexual abuse of women and children and the number of registered cases, as well as the sanctions imposed on perpetrators;

(b) Whether there is a national action plan to combat domestic violence, and the measures in place to support and rehabilitate victims; and

(c) Public awareness-raising measures and trainingfor law enforcement officials and other involved professionals on the criminal nature of acts of domestic violence.


(a) Whether there is legislation in the State party that specifically criminalizes trafficking in persons and the mechanisms in place to monitor its strict enforcement. Also indicate the number of reported trafficking cases from, to and through the State party, as well as the sentences imposed on perpetrators; and

(b)Whether there is a national plan of action to combat trafficking and the measures taken to support victims, including medical, social and legal assistance.

Article 11

A. The right to the continuous improvement of living conditions

42.Indicate whether the State party has defined a national poverty line and on what basis it is calculated. In the absence of a poverty line, what mechanisms are used for measuring and monitoring the incidence and depth of poverty?

43. Indicate:

(a) Whether the State party has adopted a national action plan or strategy to combat poverty that fully integrates economic, social and cultural rightsand whetherspecific mechanisms and procedures are in place to monitor the implementation of the plan or strategy and evaluate the progress achieved in effectively combating poverty; and

(b) Targeted policies and programmes to combat poverty, including among women and children, and the economic and social exclusion of individuals and families belonging to the disadvantaged and marginalized groups, in particular ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples and those living in rural and deprived urban areas.

B. The right to adequate food

44.Provide information on the measures taken to ensure the availability of affordable food in quantity and quality sufficient to satisfy the dietary needs of everyone, free from adverse substances, and culturally acceptable.

45.Indicate the measures taken to disseminate knowledge of the principles of nutrition, including of healthy diets.

46.Indicatethe measures taken to promote equality ofaccess by the disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, including landless peasants and persons belonging to minorities,to food, land, credit,natural resources andtechnologyfor food production.

47. Indicate whether the State party has adopted or envisages the adoption, within a specified time frame, of the ‘Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security’. If not, explain the reasons why.

C. The right to water

48. Indicate:

(a)The measures taken to ensure adequate and affordable access to water that is sufficient and safe for personal and domestic uses for everyone;

(b) The percentage of households without access to sufficient and safe water in the dwelling or within its immediate vicinity, disaggregated by region and urban/rural populationand the measures taken to improve the situation;

(c) The measurestaken to ensure that water services, whether privately or publicly provided, are affordable for everyone; and

(d) The system in place to monitor the quality of water.

49.Provide information on education concerning the hygienic use of water, protection of water sources and methods to minimize water wastage.

D. The right to adequate housing

50.Indicate whether a national survey on homelessness and inadequate housing has been undertaken, as well as its findings, in particular the number of individuals and families who are homeless or inadequately housed and without access to basic infrastructures and services such as water, heating, waste disposal, sanitation, and electricity, as well as the number of persons living in over-crowded or structurally unsafe housing.

51. Indicate:

(a) The measures taken to ensure access to adequate and affordable housing with legal security of tenure for everyone, irrespective of income or access to economic resources;

(b) The impact of social housing measures, such as the provision of low-cost social housing units for disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and families, in particular in rural and deprived urban areas, whether there are waiting lists for obtaining such housing and the average length of waiting time;

(c) Measures taken to make housing accessible and habitable for persons with special housing needs, such as families with children, older persons and persons with disabilities;

52.Indicate the legislative and other measures in place to ensure that housing is not built on polluted sites or in immediate proximity of pollution sources that threaten the health of inhabitants.

53.Indicate whether there are any disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, such as ethnic minorities, who are particularly affected by forced evictions and the measures taken to ensure that no form of discrimination is involved whenever evictions take place.

54.Indicatethe number of persons and families evicted within the last five years and the legal provisionsdefining the circumstances in which evictions may take place and the rights of tenants to security of tenure and protection from eviction.

Article 12

55. Indicate whether the State party has adopted a national health policy and whether a national health system with universal access to primary health care is in place.

56. Provide information on the measures taken to ensure:

(a) That preventive, curative, and rehabilitative health facilities, goods and services arewithin safe reach and physically accessible for everyone, includingolder persons and persons with disabilities;

(b) That the costs of health-care services and health insurance, whether privately or publicly provided, are affordable for everyone, including for socially disadvantaged groups;

(c) Thatdrugs andmedical equipment are scientifically approved and have not expired or become ineffective; and

(d) Adequate training of health personnel, including on health and human rights.

57. Provide informationon the measures taken:

(a) To improve child and maternal health, as well as sexual and reproductive health services and programmes, including through education, awareness-raising, and access to family planning, pre- and post-natal care and emergency obstetric services, in particular in rural areas and for women belonging to disadvantaged and marginalized groups;

(b) To prevent, treat and control diseases linked to water and ensure access to adequate sanitation;

(c) To implement and enhance immunization programmes and other strategies of infectious disease control;

(d) To prevent the abuse of alcohol and tobacco, and the use of illicit drugs and other harmful substances, in particular among children and adolescents, ensure adequate treatment and rehabilitation of drug users, and support their families;

(e) To preventHIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, educate high- risk groups, children and adolescents as well as the general publicon their transmission, provide support to persons with HIV/AIDS and their families, and reduce social stigma and discrimination;

(f) To ensure affordable access to essential drugs, as defined by the WHO, including anti-retroviral medicines and medicines for chronic diseases; and

(g) To ensure adequate treatment and care in psychiatric facilities for mental health patients, as well as periodic review and effective judicial control of confinement.

Article 13

58.Indicate to what extentthe form and substance of education in the State partyare directed towards the aims and objectives identified in article 13,paragraph 1, and whether school curricula include education on economic, social and cultural rights.

59. Indicate how the obligation to provide primary education that is compulsory and available free for all is implemented in the State party, in particular:

(a) The level or grade until which education is compulsory and free for all;

(b) Any direct costs such as school fees, as well as the measures taken to eliminate them; and

(c) Any indirect costs (e.g. expenses for school books, uniforms, transport, special fees such as exam fees, contributions to district education boards, etc.) and the measures taken to alleviate the impact of such costs on children from poorer households.

60. Indicatethe measures taken to make secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, generally available and accessible to all, including:

(a) Concrete steps taken by the State party towards progressively achieving free secondary education; and

(b) The availability of technical and vocational education,and whether it enables students to acquire knowledge and skills which contribute to their personal development, self-reliance and employability.

61.Indicate the measures taken to make higher education equally accessible to all and without discrimination, on the basis of capacity, and the concrete steps taken towards progressively achieving free higher education.

62. Indicate the measures taken to promote literacy, as well as adult and continuing education, in a life-long perspective.

63. Indicate whether minority and indigenous children have adequate opportunities to receive instruction in or of their native language and the steps taken to prevent lower educational standards for these children, their segregation in special classes, and their exclusion from mainstream education.

64. Indicate the measures taken to ensure the same admission criteria for boys and girls at all levels of education, and to raise awareness among parents, teachers and decision-makers on the value of educating girls.

65. Indicate the measures taken to reduce the drop-out rates, at the primary and secondary levels, for children and young persons, in particular girls, children from ethnic minorities, indigenous communities andpoorer households, as well as migrant, refugee and internally displaced children.

Article 14

66. If compulsory and free primary education is not currently enjoyed in the State party, provide information on the required plan of action for the progressive implementation, within a reasonable number of years fixed in this plan, of this right. Alsoindicate any particular difficulties encountered, in the adoption and implementation of this plan of action, as well as the measures taken to overcome these difficulties.

Article 15

67. Provide information on the institutional infrastructure to promote popular participation in, and access to,cultural life, especially at the community level, including in rural and deprived urban areas.In this regard, indicate the measures taken to promote broad participation in, and access to, cultural goods, institutions and activities, including measures taken:

(a) To ensure that access to concerts, theatre, cinema, sport events and other cultural activities is affordable for all segments of the population;

(b) To enhance access to the cultural heritage of mankind, including through new information technologies such as the Internet;

(c) To encourage participation in cultural life by children, including children from poorer families, and migrant or refugee children; and

(d) To eliminate physical, social and communication barriers preventing older persons and persons with disabilities from fully participating in cultural life.

68. Indicate the measures taken to protect cultural diversity, promote awareness of the cultural heritage of ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities and of indigenous communities, and create favourable conditions for them to preserve, develop, express and disseminate their identity, history, culture, language, traditions and customs.

69.Provide information on school and professional education in the field of culture and the arts.

70. Indicate:

(a)The measures taken to ensure affordable access to the benefits of scientific progress and its applications for everyone, including disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups; and

(b) The measures taken to prevent the use of scientific and technical progress for purposes which are contrary to the enjoyment of human dignity and human rights.

71. Indicate the measures taken to ensure the effective protection of the moral and material interests of creators, in particular:

(a) To protect the right of authors to be recognized as the creators and for the protection of the integrity of their scientific, literary and artistic productions;

(b) To protect the basic material interests of authors resulting from their productions, which enable them to enjoy an adequate standard of living;

(c) To ensure theprotection of the moral and material interests of indigenous peoples relating to their cultural heritage and traditional knowledge; and

(d) To strike an adequate balance between the effective protection of the moral and material interests of authors and the State party’s obligations in relation to the other rights recognized in the Covenant.

72. Indicate the legal provisionsin place to protect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity and any restrictions on the exercise of this freedom.

73. Indicate the measures taken for the conservation, development and diffusion of science and culture and to encourage and develop international contacts and co-operation in the scientific and cultural fields.