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Economic, Social and Cultural (ESC) rights were established at international level by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human rights. In 1966, the UN General Assembly adopted two covenants related to Human Rights: the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights (ICESCR), which both came into force in 1976.

Those covenants thus created a distinction between:

Economic, Social and Cultural rights are:

It is important to understand that Economic, Social and Cultural rights are indivisible from - and inter-dependent with - Civil and Political rights. It will soon become impossible to implement CP rights if we keep ignoring ESC rights: hungry people with no education or in poor health, for instance, will never be able to use their voting right in full knowledge of the facts or puclicly voice their opinion in the media (right to the freedom of expression). In other words, the democracy that our societies very much value will never fully prevail if we keep neglecting ESC rights.

"All human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated. The international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis. While the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms".

World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, 14-25 June 1993

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