UN rights treaty: Pakistan’s forgotten promise

Published: October 31, 2015
The covenant, of which Pakistan is a signatory, calls for safeguarding rights. PHOTO: REUTERS

The covenant, of which Pakistan is a signatory, calls for safeguarding rights. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Pakistan ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Right (ICESCR) in 2008. To this day, however, no reports have been submitted from Pakistan. Proper budgetary allocation is a must to ensure the implementation of rights as stated in the ICESCR.

These thoughts were shared by journalist and researcher Moniza Inam at a session titled, ‘The National Plan of Action of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in Pakistan’ at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) office on Friday evening.

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ICESCR is a joint treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It works towards safeguarding social, economic and cultural rights. Pakistan signed the covenant in 2004 and did not ratify it until 2008, after which no progress report has been sent back, it was disclosed in the session.

Inam said that the ICESCR is a first-generation covenant that provides for women’s rights to the extent that it provides a legal framework and a proper implementation mechanism. “Strengthening of the judiciary system and proper budgetary allocation are some of the ways in which implementation of these rights can ensured,” she said.

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The journalist also gave some recommendations on how the rights need to be worked upon in the context of Pakistan. In the area of ‘Right to Work’, she suggested proper implementation of the minimum wage (Rs13,000), expansion of trade unions and regulation of the informal sector for maximum economic development. “The government needs to revise the existing trickle-down economic theory,” she suggested.

About food insecurity, Inam said that as many as 48 per cent of the people in Pakistan go to bed hungry. “Women farmers should be allotted land and violence against women should be taken as a public health issue,” she said. She added that the multi-dimensional nature of women workers needs to be recognised.

Inam also spoke on the need to recognise, protect and promote cultural diversity, adding that subjects such as performing arts and fine arts should be introduced at the primary level.

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Inam said that even though the 18th Amendment was introduced, neither the provinces nor the federation were ready. “A vacuum was thus created in the transfer of power from the federal to provincial,” she said.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st,  2015.


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