Sustainable Development: Eploring Peace
Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ESCR)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 Eor economic, social and cultural Eare 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 Ewhere everyone can achieve wellbeing, realize their potential, and have the opportunity to find happiness and fulfilment.

Economic Rights
Social Rights
Cultural Rights
Economic rights include the right to work and to fair wages, the right to own property, the right to access financial resources and credit, and the right to participate in economic decision-making processes. These rights are fundamental for ensuring individuals' ability to provide for themselves and their families, achieve economic security, and pursue their livelihoods free from exploitation and discrimination. Social rights encompass the right to education, the right to health, the right to social security and social protection, the right to housing, and the right to participate in cultural life and enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. These rights are essential for ensuring individuals' access to basic services, opportunities for personal and social development, and the ability to live a dignified and fulfilling life. Cultural rights refer to the rights of individuals and communities to participate in cultural life, preserve their cultural heritage, and access and enjoy cultural expressions and resources. These rights encompass the right to freely participate in cultural activities, the right to practice and preserve one's own culture, and the right to access cultural resources and institutions. Cultural rights are integral to individuals' sense of identity, belonging, and well-being, as well as to the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.

Peace is closely linked to economic, social, and cultural rights in several ways:

  1. Promotion of Social Justice and Equity: Economic, social, and cultural rights are essential for addressing the root causes of conflict and promoting social justice and equity within societies. By ensuring that all individuals have access to basic services, opportunities for economic participation, and cultural resources, these rights contribute to reducing inequalities and addressing grievances that can lead to conflict.
  2. Conflict Prevention and Resolution: Ensuring economic, social, and cultural rights can help prevent conflicts by addressing underlying social and economic tensions, promoting inclusive development, and fostering social cohesion. By addressing poverty, inequality, and exclusion, these rights contribute to creating conditions conducive to peace and stability.
  3. Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Peacebuilding: Economic, social, and cultural rights are essential for post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding efforts. Rebuilding infrastructure, providing access to essential services, promoting reconciliation and social cohesion, and addressing the needs of marginalized and vulnerable populations are all critical components of peacebuilding efforts that are closely linked to economic, social, and cultural rights.

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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