Sustainable Development: Eploring Peace
Economic, Social and Cultural Right (ESCR) rights and Peace

Hari Srinivas
Viewpoint Series E-187. January 2023

The document focuses on "Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ESCRs)," which are recognized and protected by international and regional human rights instruments. ESCRs encompass a range of rights, including the right to adequate food, housing, education, health, and work, among others. The document explains how these rights are interlinked and important for living a life of dignity and wellbeing.

ESCRs include, for example, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to health, the right to education, and the right to social security, among others. The document highlights the obligation of countries to respect, protect, and fulfill ESCRs and the importance of taking action towards their realization. The article underscores the relevance of ESCRs in the context of GDRC's work on peace and human rights.

Environmental security, Natural resources, Ecosystems, Social disruptions, Economic disruptions. Conflicts, Holistic approach, Stakeholders, Global cooperation, Transnational challenges.

International Covenant Countries have signed up to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), under the aegis of the United Natios, to undertake to ensure the equal rights of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights as defined by the Covenent's articles.

The Covenent has been ratified by 171 countries.

ESC Rights underscoring sustainability
Of particular relevance for GDRC's work in the sphere of peace and human rights is that of "Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs)." ESCR includes the rights to adequate food, to adequate housing, to education, to health, to social security, to take part in cultural life, to water and sanitation, and to work.

Economic, Social and Cultural rights are recognised and protected in international and regional human rights instruments, such as the ICESRC (see box on right). Countries have a legal obligation to respect, protect and fulfil economic, social and cultural rights and are expected to take action towards their fulfilment.

Broadly, ESCRs fall within the orbit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. UNOHCR explains ESCR issues: "All human rights, whether civil and political — or economic, social and cultural — are interlinked. For example, individuals who cannot read or write often have a harder time in realizing their full potentials than those who can to find work or to take part in political activity. Malnutrition and hunger are less likely to occur where individuals can effectively exercise their right to vote and influence Government priorities. " [Source] United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights -

The different kinds of ESCRs guarantee the conditions we need to live a life of dignity — where everyone can achieve wellbeing, realize their potential, and have the opportunity to find happiness and fulfilment.

footnote text Some examples of ESCRs include: [Source]Center for Economics and Social Rights -

  • The right to an adequate standard of living, which includes aspects such as food security, adequate housing, and access to clean water and dignified sanitation.

  • The right to health, which includes guarantees such as access to healthcare, healthy environmental conditions, and protection against epidemic diseases.

  • The right to education, which includes the obligation to provide free and compulsory primary education, and accessible secondary and higher education, among other aspects.

  • The right to social security, which includes adequate protection in the event of unemployment, sickness, maternity, disability and old age or other limits on livelihood in circumstances beyond one’s control.

  • The right to freedom from forced labor, fair wages and equal pay, safe and healthy working conditions, and the right to organize and unionize.

  • The right to participate in cultural life and to share in and benefit from scientific advancement.

  • The right to a healthy environment.
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