International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A
(XXI)
of 16 December 1966

entry into force 3 January 1976, in accordance with article 27
Preamble

The States Parties to the present Covenant,
Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United
Nations, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members
of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Recognizing that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person,

Recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free
human beings enjoying freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created
whereby everyone may enjoy his economic, social and cultural rights, as well as his civil and
political rights,

Considering the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal
respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms,

Realizing that the individual, having duties to other individuals and to the community to which he
belongs, is under a responsibility to strive for the promotion and observance of the rights
recognized in the present Covenant,

Agree upon the following articles:
PART I

Article 1
1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine
their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources
without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon
the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its
own means of subsistence.

3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the
administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the
right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the
Charter of the United Nations.
PART II
Article 2

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1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through
international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its
available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights
recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of
legislative measures.

2. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights enunciated in
the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex,
language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other
status.

3. Developing countries, with due regard to human rights and their national economy, may determine
to what extent they would guarantee the economic rights recognized in the present Covenant to non-
nationals.

Article 3

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to
the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the present Covenant.

Article 4

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, in the enjoyment of those rights
provided by the State in conformity with the present Covenant, the State may subject such rights
only to such limitations as are determined by law only in so far as this may be compatible with the
nature of these rights and solely for the purpose of promoting the general welfare in a democratic
society.

Article 5

1. Nothing in the present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person
any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the
rights or freedoms recognized herein, or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided
for in the present Covenant.

2. No restriction upon or derogation from any of the fundamental human rights recognized or
existing in any country in virtue of law, conventions, regulations or custom shall be admitted on
the pretext that the present Covenant does not recognize such rights or that it recognizes them to
a lesser extent.

PART III

Article 6

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right
of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and
will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.

2. The steps to be taken by a State Party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization
of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and
techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive
employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the
individual.

Article 7

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just
and favourable conditions of work which ensure, in particular:

(a) Remuneration which provides all workers, as a minimum, with:

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(i) Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in
particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with
equal pay for equal work;

(ii) A decent living for themselves and their families in accordance with the provisions of the
present Covenant;

(b) Safe and healthy working conditions; (c) Equal opportunity for everyone to be promoted in his
employment to an appropriate higher level, subject to no considerations other than those of
seniority and competence;

(d ) Rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as
well as remuneration for public holidays

Article 8

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure:

(a) The right of everyone to form trade unions and join the trade union of his choice, subject only
to the rules of the organization concerned, for the promotion and protection of his economic and
social interests. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those
prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national
security or public order or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others;

(b) The right of trade unions to establish national federations or confederations and the right of
the latter to form or join international trade-union organizations;

(c) The right of trade unions to function freely subject to no limitations other than those
prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national
security or public order or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others;

(d) The right to strike, provided that it is exercised in conformity with the laws of the
particular country.

2. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these
rights by members of the armed forces or of the police or of the administration of the State. 3.
Nothing in this article shall authorize States Parties to the International Labour Organisation
Convention of 1948 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize to
take legislative measures which would prejudice, or apply the law in such a manner as would
prejudice, the guarantees provided for in that Convention.

Article 9

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to social security,
including social insurance.

Article 10

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that:

1. The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the
natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is
responsible for the care and education of dependent children. Marriage must be entered into with
the free consent of the intending spouses.

2. Special protection should be accorded to mothers during a reasonable period before and after
childbirth. During such period working mothers should be accorded paid leave or leave with adequate
social security benefits.

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3. Special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and
young persons without any discrimination for reasons of parentage or other conditions. Children and
young persons should be protected from economic and social exploitation. Their employment in work
harmful to their morals or health or dangerous to life or likely to hamper their normal development
should be punishable by law. States should also set age limits below which the paid employment of
child labour should be prohibited and punishable by law.

Article 11

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate
standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and
to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps
to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of
international co- operation based on free consent.

2. The States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be
free from hunger, shall take, individually and through international co-operation, the measures,
including specific programmes, which are needed:

(a) To improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use of
technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and
by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient
development and utilization of natural resources;

(b) Taking into account the problems of both food-importing and food-exporting countries, to ensure
an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need.

Article 12

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of
the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full
realization of this right shall include those necessary for:

(a) The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the
healthy development of the child;

(b) The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene;

(c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases;

(d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in
the event of sickness.

Article 13

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They
agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the
sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free
society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic
or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

2. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, with a view to achieving the full
realization of this right:

(a) Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all;

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(b) Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary
education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and
in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;

(c) Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every
appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;

(d) Fundamental education shall be encouraged or intensified as far as possible for those persons
who have not received or completed the whole period of their primary education;

(e) The development of a system of schools at all levels shall be actively pursued, an adequate
fellowship system shall be established, and the material conditions of teaching staff shall be
continuously improved.

3. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents
and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those
established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may
be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their
children in conformity with their own convictions.

4. No part of this article shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals
and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of
the principles set forth in paragraph I of this article and to the requirement that the education
given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the
State.

Article 14

Each State Party to the present Covenant which, at the time of becoming a Party, has not been able
to secure in its metropolitan territory or other territories under its jurisdiction compulsory
primary education, free of charge, undertakes, within two years, to work out and adopt a detailed
plan of action for the progressive implementation, within a reasonable number of years, to be
fixed in the plan, of the principle of compulsory education free of charge for all.

Article 15

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone:

(a) To take part in cultural life;

(b) To enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications;

(c) To benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any
scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full
realization of this right shall include those necessary for the conservation, the development and
the diffusion of science and culture. 3. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to
respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity.

4. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the benefits to be derived from the
encouragement and development of international contacts and co-operation in the scientific and
cultural fields.

PART IV

Article 16

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1. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to submit in conformity with this part of
the Covenant reports on the measures which they have adopted and the progress made in achieving the
observance of the rights recognized herein.

2.

(a) All reports shall be submitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall
transmit copies to the Economic and Social Council for consideration in accordance with the
provisions of the present Covenant;

(b) The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall also transmit to the specialized agencies
copies of the reports, or any relevant parts therefrom, from States Parties to the present Covenant
which are also members of these specialized agencies in so far as these reports, or parts
therefrom, relate to any matters which fall within the responsibilities of the said agencies in
accordance with their constitutional instruments.

Article 17

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant shall furnish their reports in stages, in accordance
with a programme to be established by the Economic and Social Council within one year of the entry
into force of the present Covenant after consultation with the States Parties and the specialized
agencies concerned.

2. Reports may indicate factors and difficulties affecting the degree of fulfilment of obligations
under the present Covenant.

3. Where relevant information has previously been furnished to the United Nations or to any
specialized agency by any State Party to the present Covenant, it will not be necessary to
reproduce that information, but a precise reference to the information so furnished will suffice.

Article 18

Pursuant to its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations in the field of human
rights and fundamental freedoms, the Economic and Social Council may make arrangements with the
specialized agencies in respect of their reporting to it on the progress made in achieving the
observance of the provisions of the present Covenant falling within the scope of their activities.
These reports may include particulars of decisions and recommendations on such implementation
adopted by their competent organs.

Article 19

The Economic and Social Council may transmit to the Commission on Human Rights for study and
general recommendation or, as appropriate, for information the reports concerning human rights
submitted by States in accordance with articles 16 and 17, and those concerning human rights
submitted by the specialized agencies in accordance with article 18.

Article 20

The States Parties to the present Covenant and the specialized agencies concerned may submit
comments to the Economic and Social Council on any general recommendation under article 19 or
reference to such general recommendation in any report of the Commission on Human Rights or any
documentation referred to therein.

Article 21

The Economic and Social Council may submit from time to time to the General Assembly reports with
recommendations of a general nature and a summary of the information received from the States
Parties to the present Covenant and the specialized agencies on the measures taken and the progress
made in achieving general observance of the rights recognized in the present Covenant.

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Article 22

The Economic and Social Council may bring to the attention of other organs of the United Nations,
their subsidiary organs and specialized agencies concerned with furnishing technical assistance any
matters arising out of the reports referred to in this part of the present Covenant which may
assist such bodies in deciding, each within its field of competence, on the advisability of
international measures likely to contribute to the effective progressive implementation of the
present Covenant.

Article 23

The States Parties to the present Covenant agree that international action for the achievement of
the rights recognized in the present Covenant includes such methods as the conclusion of
conventions, the adoption of recommendations, the furnishing of technical assistance and the
holding of regional meetings and technical meetings for the purpose of consultation and study
organized in conjunction with the Governments concerned.

Article 24

Nothing in the present Covenant shall be interpreted as impairing the provisions of the Charter of
the United Nations and of the constitutions of the specialized agencies which define the respective
responsibilities of the various organs of the United Nations and of the specialized agencies in
regard to the matters dealt with in the present Covenant.

Article 25

Nothing in the present Covenant shall be interpreted as impairing the inherent right of all peoples
to enjoy and utilize fully and freely their natural wealth and resources.

PART V

Article 26

1. The present Covenant is open for signature by any State Member of the United Nations or member
of any of its specialized agencies, by any State Party to the Statute of the International Court of
Justice, and by any other State which has been invited by the General Assembly of the United
Nations to become a party to the present Covenant.

2. The present Covenant is subject to ratification. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited
with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

3. The present Covenant shall be open to accession by any State referred to in paragraph 1 of this
article.

4. Accession shall be effected by the deposit of an instrument of accession with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations.

5. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States which have signed the
present Covenant or acceded to it of the deposit of each instrument of ratification or accession.

Article 27

1. The present Covenant shall enter into force three months after the date of the deposit with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations of the thirty-fifth instrument of ratification or
instrument of accession.

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2. For each State ratifying the present Covenant or acceding to it after the deposit of the
thirty-fifth
instrument of ratification or instrument of accession, the present Covenant shall enter into force
three months after the date of the deposit of its own instrument of ratification or instrument of
accession.
Article 28
The provisions of the present Covenant shall extend to all parts of federal States without any
limitations or exceptions.
Article 29
1. Any State Party to the present Covenant may propose an amendment and file it with the Secretary-
General of the United Nations. The Secretary-General shall thereupon communicate any proposed
amendments to the States Parties to the present Covenant with a request that they notify him
whether they favour a conference of States Parties for the purpose of considering and voting upon
the proposals. In the event that at least one third of the States Parties favours such a
conference, the Secretary-General shall convene the conference under the auspices of the United
Nations. Any amendment adopted by a majority of the States Parties present and voting at the
conference shall be submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations for approval.

2. Amendments shall come into force when they have been approved by the General Assembly of the
United Nations and accepted by a two-thirds majority of the States Parties to the present Covenant
in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.

3. When amendments come into force they shall be binding on those States Parties which have
accepted them, other States Parties still being bound by the provisions of the present Covenant and
any earlier amendment which they have accepted.
Article 30
Irrespective of the notifications made under article 26, paragraph 5, the Secretary-General of the
United Nations shall inform all States referred to in paragraph I of the same article of the
following particulars:

(a) Signatures, ratifications and accessions under article 26;

(b) The date of the entry into force of the present Covenant under article 27 and the date of the
entry into force of any amendments under article 29.
Article 31
1. The present Covenant, of which the Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are
equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the United Nations.

2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit certified copies of the present
Covenant
to all States referred to in article 26.

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