Source description last updated: 1 December 2020

In brief: The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is a United Nations body of independent experts that considers reports submitted by UN member states on their compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Coverage on

State reports, concluding observations as well as NGO reports and reports of national human rights institutions.

Covered monthly on, for countries of priorities A-C.


“The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties. The Committee was established under ECOSOC Resolution 1985/17 of 28 May 1985 to carry out the monitoring functions assigned to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Part IV of the Covenant.” (CESCR Website, undated)

The rights whose implementation is to be monitored (listed in Part III of the Covenenat) include

“The primary function of the Committee is to monitor the implementation of the Covenant by States parties. It strives to develop a constructive dialogue with States parties and seeks to determine through a variety of means whether or not the norms contained in the Covenant are being adequately applied in States parties and how the implementation and enforcement of the Covenant could be improved so that all people who are entitled to the rights enshrined in the Covenant can actually enjoy them in full. Drawing on the legal and practical expertise of its members, the Committee can also assist Governments in fulfilling their obligations under the Covenant by issuing specific legislative, policy and other suggestions and recommendations such that economic, social and cultural rights are more effectively secured.” (OHCHR: Fact Sheet No.16 (Rev.1), The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, undated, p. 15)


UN budget

Scope of reporting:

Geographic focus: all States parties to the ICESCR

Thematic focus: rights to work, form trade unions, social security, family life, an adequate standard of living, health, education and participation in cultural life


“[...] the States parties shall submit their initial reports within two years of the entry into force of the Covenant for the State party concerned and thereafter periodic reports at five-year intervals […] The Committee shall normally consider the reports submitted by States parties under article 16 of the Covenant in the order in which they have been received by the Secretary-General. […] Any reports by States parties received by the Secretary-General for processing less than 12 weeks before the opening of the session shall be made available to the Committee at its session in the following year. […] Representatives of the reporting States are entitled to be present at the meetings of the Committee when their reports are examined. Such representatives should be able to make statements on the reports submitted by their States and reply to questions which may be put to them by the members of the Committee. […] If a report of a State party to the Covenant, in the opinion of the Committee, does not contain sufficient information, the Committee may request the State concerned to furnish the additional information which is required, indicating the manner as well as the time within which the said information should be submitted. […] The Committee shall make suggestions and recommendations of a general nature on the basis of its consideration of reports submitted by States parties and of the reports submitted by the specialized agencies in order to assist the Council to fulfil, in particular, its responsibilities under articles 21 and 22 of the Covenant. The Committee may also make suggestions for the consideration by the Council with reference to articles 19 and 23 of the Covenant. […] The Committee may prepare general comments based on the various articles and provisions of the Covenant with a view to assisting States parties in fulfilling their reporting obligations.” (CESCR: Rules of procedure of the Committee [E/C.12/1990/4/Rev.1], 1 September 1993, p. 17ff)

Languages of publications:

English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic

Further reading / links:

CESCR - Committee On Economic, Social And Cultural Rights: Rules of procedure of the Committee [E/C.12/1990/4/Rev.1], 1 September 1993

OHCHR - Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Fact Sheet No.16 (Rev.1), The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, undated


All links accessed 28 October 2020.