Earlier this month, a coalition of civil society organisations called South Africa’s Ratification Campaign of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and its Optional Protocol (the Campaign) submitted a report on the South African government's progress in realising socio-economic rights to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Committee), the international treaty body responsible for monitoring the implementation of socio-economic rights by states. The Campaign's parallel report provides a civil society perspective on the realisation of socio-economic rights in South Africa, and raises questions about the state’s record in fulfilling these rights in order to promote greater accountability. It also reports on the compliance status of the South African government with regard to the ICESCR.
The Campaign's report responds to, and challenges some components of, the South African government's initial periodic report on the implementation of socio-economic rights, which was submitted to the Committee in April 2017. In its report, the South African government emphasised South Africa's progressive Constitution that includes socio-economic rights such as the right to social security, right to access to adequate housing, health and education.
The Campaign's report notes that actions to address the binding constraints to socio-economic rights realisation are increasingly urgent in the South African context of severe poverty and inequality. For this reason, the Campaign identifies the need for the state to address forced evictions and displacement; to assess the causes of under-expenditure on informal settlement upgrading; to address a lack of investment in infrastructure maintenance and services provision, and the urgent need to address intergovernmental cooperation issues that impacted severely in the management of the drought in the Western Cape. In its parallel report, the Campaign makes clear recommendations with respect to:
The Campaign's report is due for consideration by the Committee on 1-3 October 2018, during the Committee's 64th session. The Campaign’s Steering Group is comprised of the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), Black Sash, the Dullah Omar Institute (DOI), the People’s Health Movement South Africa (PHM-SA), and the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII), and also draws on expert inputs from the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape, and Prof Lilian Chenwi and Prof Jackie Dugard at the University of the Witwatersrand.