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NZ Agrees To Renew Optional Protocol Work Mandate

Optional Protocol – UN Human Rights Commission
Anthony Ravlich MA, BSc, Dip Crim (Hons)
Chairperson, the NZ Council of ESCR Inc.

New Zealand agrees to renew the mandate of the open-ended working for a period of two years ‘to consider options regarding the elaboration of an optional protocol to the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’.

New Zealand was one of twenty countries which attended the first informal consultations at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in early April , 2004.

The recommendation to the Commission by the working group, which met between Feb 23 to March 5, to renew the mandate follows the working groups failure to arrive at a consensus regarding an optional protocol for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Such an optional protocol may have enabled those suffering severe social injustices to seek domestic remedies through the Human Rights Commission or the courts and if not satisfied ultimately to the Human Rights Committee at the United Nations.

According to the NGO Coalition the New Zealand representative supported a renewed mandate adding that New Zealand ‘sees this as a process; confidence building; too early to draft (an optional protocol)’. According to Maria Graterol, who was in attendance and representing the NGO Coalition, ‘the fact that New Zealand supports the resolution doesn’t necessarily mean they will support or promote a strong optional protocol’.

The NGO Coalitions states that also supporting the renewed mandate were the United Kingdom and Australia. Against were the USA and India with the USA representative stating that the USA wanted to ‘delete the entire paragraph because the working-group failed to accomplish anything during the last meeting’.

The NGO Coalition adds that ‘it seems very likely that the resolution would go to a vote’. This would involve a simple majority.

The NGO Coalition includes Social Rights Advocacy Centre, Canada; International Commission of Jurists; Women’s Rights Action Network, Australia; Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions; the World Organisation Against Torture; Fian; International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.


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