19 January 2015

On 12th January, 2015, South Africa became the 163rd State Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

In the statement of Declaration after the ratification, the United Nations expressed its hope that by ratifying the ICESCR, “the Government of the Republic of South Africa will give progressive effect to the right to education, as provided for in Article 13 (2) (a) and Article 14, within the framework of its National Education Policy and available resources.”

The ratification comes 20 years after South Africa signed the ICESCR, thereby indicating its intention to be legally bound by the provisions of the ICESCR.

In a statement, the South African Human Rights Commission welcomed the ratification:

“The Commission believes that the ratification will enhance the ability of the government to play a meaningful role as one of the key advocates for social, economic and cultural rights in the international arena. And it will further enable the country to keep pace with those countries that have ratified the Covenant and thus accelerate and improve the respect and observance of socio economic rights in South Africa. 

“It is for this reason therefore that as the Commission we urge Government to expedite the domestication of the Covenant so as to ensure that those provisions that are in the Covenant and not in our Constitution, or any other legislation, become applicable in South Africa.”


To check the ratification status of the ICESCR, including reservations and decalartions, see UN Treaty Collection: ICESCR.