The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Optional Protocol or OP-ICESCR) entered into force on 5 May 2013. With the Optional Protocol, the international community comes much closer to treating “human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis” as required by the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights. In particular, the OP-ICESCR creates a mechanism whereby rights holders can submit complaints of violations of any of their economic, social and cultural rights and hold States accountable to their obligations under the Covenant to respect, protect, and fulfill Covenant rights, including the human rights to education. This procedure will also provide further clarity on the content of human rights in different contexts, resulting in greater guidance for governments that seek to implement the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in good faith.
The objective of this manual is to provide theoretical and practical information for lawyers and other advocates interested in utilizing the OP-ICESCR as a means to enforce economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to eduxcation. A related aim of this manual is to contribute to the growing network of advocates using strategic litigation to advance ESC rights protections, by supporting ongoing exchange and collaboration.