Malian ESC Rights Platform’s provisions and approach in advocating for the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR

Thursday 3 September 2009 by Madani Koumaré (Réseau Aoudaghost - Plateforme DESC Mali)

Ten years after the International group of experts was formed, the last United Nations General Assembly adopted the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR.

However, ten ratifications are needed for the Protocol to come into force. It opened for signature in February 2009.

Needless to say that this new battle is far from won. Indeed, Mali signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1966 and 1974 respectively. Yet, Mali has not presented any first official report since the Covenant came into force in 1976. There is a lack of harmonisation, which compromises the achievement and protection of economic, social and cultural rights even more as long as the protocol has not been ratified.

It was thus necessary for the Malian ESC Rights Platform to organize itself so as to develop and carry out an advocacy strategy for the ratification of the Optional Protocol.

This strategy relies on two main axes:

1. Immediately after the adoption of the Protocol

  • General assembly to inform members, CSOs and the public institutions concerned
  • Creation of an Advocacy Committee for the ratification of the Protocol
  • Press conference broadcast on TV and radio

2. Advocacy approach

  • Looking for strategic alliances
  • Mobilization and social pressure, using legal arguments against poverty which is defined in the Protocol’s preamble as a right violation
  • Lobbying actions directed towards the members of Parliament

The whole approach relied on a good organization around effective social watch strategies, such as:

  • The organization of training sessions on social watch (to draw the attention of diverse opinions with full knowledge of the facts and on the basis of accepted standards). The point is to create conditions that will lead people to act in anticipation, objectively and legally so as to maintain pressure on the State;
  • The use of all means of communication to circulate the emblematic cases of rights violation that psychologically prepare citizens to act, and the systematic follow-up of negotiations;
  • The interaction with other countries in that matter;
  • If such is the case, the formulation of requests by recognized experts regarding cases of flagrant and chronic violations, to national or international courts;
  • The use of the right to appeal before the Committee on ESC rights in Geneva via an International solidarity organization (ISO) partner, in case other remedies are non-existent or exhausted within the country.

In order for this social watch, pressure and monitoring action to have quick results, the ESC rights platform sought some more strategic independent collaboration, that is, not related to the Parliament, the Economic, Social and Cultural Council, the National Commission on Human Rights, and other CSOs or unions.

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