International reporting

Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) protects the fundamental needs of citizens, including the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to work, the right to health and the right to education. Click here for ICESCR full text. New Zealand ratified the ICESCR on 28 December 1978.

It outlines rights for everyone, including the right to: 

  • adequate housing
  • food and water
  • work 
  • social security
  • family life 
  • health
  • education

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. New Zealand is obligated to report to CESCR every 5 years. New Zealand presented its 4th government report to CESCR in May 2017.

The next set of reporting on New Zealand's process on ICESCR will be in 2020.

Making a submission to the CESCR

CESCR attaches great importance to cooperation with all non-governmental organizations active in the field of economic, social and cultural rights – local, national and international, those in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and those without such status. The Committee constantly encourages their participation in its activities.

Written reports may be submitted at any time, but preferably at least one week before the Committee’s main session or that of the pre-sessional working group.

The main activities of the Committee that are open to NGO participation are:

Consideration of State party reports:

NGOs may submit relevant information once a State Party’s report has been submitted but before it is considered; directly to the pre-sessional working group either in written form or as an oral presentation; within the framework of the Committee’s “NGO hearing” at the time of State Party report consideration; and in follow up to the Committee’s concluding observations.

NGOs wishing to attend the sessions of the Committee, the pre-sessional working group meetings or the Committee’s NGO hearings should request accreditation from the secretariat in advance.

Days of General Discussion:

NGOs specialized in the topic scheduled to be addressed by the Committee during its Day of General Discussion can participate by submitting a background document no later than 3 months in advance of the session. The document should not be more than 15 double-spaced pages in length. NGOs can also send their experts to participate in the Day of General Discussion.

Drafting of General Comments:

During the stages of the drafting and discussion of a General Comment, specialized NGOs can address the Committee in writing. During discussions, NGOs can make short oral statements on specific points of the draft general comment. It is preferred that any recommendations as to the text of a draft general comment be presented also in written and electronic form.

More information

  • For more information on the submission process is available here
  • The Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights can be contacted at: [email protected]
  • Examples of NGO statements presented jointly with the International Service for Human Rights can be viewed here.