Many people refer to economic, social and cultural rights as the “second generation” rights.
The French and American rights declarations provided for the right to form trade unions, safe labor conditions and right to collective bargaining since the 18th Century.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) is reported to be the very first international human rights organization. The ILO has worked hard in protecting workers’ rights since 1919.
We all have a right to protection against unemployment and of course the right to not only form but also join trade unions.
We all have a right to education which should be free and compulsory and also we have a right to participate in cultural life. No one should deny you any of your rights.
There is need to mobilize global activism and reactivate social movements to reclaim all their rights.
The right to access of productive resources for instance land should be respected. This is one of the ways through which we can enjoy our right to food.
If we enjoy our right to land, we can be able to feed both ourselves and also our people and even the rest of the world. This is the way through which we can easily combat famines and hunger around the globe.
We’ve also to bear in mind that sometimes we may have plenty of food in the world but it is not available to all. On this matter there is need for us to improve on the distribution channels.
As we push for progressive access to economic, social and cultural rights we should always give priority to the most vulnerable among us. For example we have the minority groups and indigenous communities. In most cases these are the poor of the poorest. Even in the midst of these vulnerable groups there are groups who are re-marginalized for example women or Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) persons among others. This is what we call inter-sectionality in human rights.
A part from using public interest litigation at our national courts, there is also other opportunities at the regional and international levels. For instance, engaging the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights among others. In Latin America we have the Inter-American Court of Human Rights while in Europe we have the European Court of Human Rights as some of the other regional human rights legal systems.
In the past, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights found Nigeria to have violated the economic, social and cultural rights of the Ogoni People through oil exploration in the Niger Delta. Ken-Saro Wiwa – Nigerian writer and environmental activist- was at the forefront in the struggle against violations of the rights of the Ogon People of Nigeria. This is a story for another day.
Other parties like the Ogiek of Mau and the Endorois have successfully explored the use of the regional legal mechanism in search of redress for human rights violations.
At the international level, the UN Human Rights Council has the mandate of appointing independent experts also called Special Rapporteurs with a mandate of monitoring the realization of particular human rights.