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International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

This covenant, which complements the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), covers the full range of human rights set out in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Switzerland acceded to both of these instruments on 18 June 1992.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) obliges states parties to take as much action as their available resources allow to progressively achieve the full realisation of the rights it guarantees (the principle of progressive realisation).

The ICESCR guarantees rights such as the following:

Economic sphere

  • Right to work and to just and favourable conditions of work
  • Right to strike

Social sphere

  • Right to social security
  • Right for protection to be accorded to the family
  • Right to special protection for mothers before and after childbirth
  • Right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate housing
  • Right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health

Cultural sphere

  • Right to education
  • Right to participate in cultural life

Text of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Monitoring mechanism

The UN's Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is the monitoring body responsible for scrutinising the implementation of the ICESCR by its states parties. The latter are required to submit periodic reports to the Committee on the measures taken and progress made to ensure respect for the rights covered by the ICESCR.

In Switzerland, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs is responsible for coordinating the reporting process.

Switzerland submitted its first report in 1996. Its second and third reports were submitted together in 2008 and the Committee issued its recommendations in November 2010. Switzerland submitted its fourth report in 2018 and presented it orally in Geneva in October 2019. On 18 October 2019, the Committee adopted its recommendations concerning Switzerland.

Information on the ICESCR and Switzerland's reports (de/fr/it)

The UN's Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Optional protocol

The Optional Protocol that entered into force in 2013 allows individuals to lodge a complaint (communication) alleging a violation of ICESCR-guaranteed rights against any state that has ratified the Optional Protocol.

Switzerland has not yet signed the Optional Protocol.

Optional Protocol of 10 December 2008: individual communications procedure

Last update 10.06.2022