International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

Ratification of the ICESCR

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural has been ratified or acceded to by 169 states (November 2018).


Relevant articles

Art. 10: “(1) The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children.… (3) Special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and young persons without any discrimination for reasons of parentage or other conditions….”

Art. 13: “(1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognise the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms….”

General Comment adopted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

In its General Comment No. 13 on “The right to education (article 13 of the Covenant)” (1999), the Committee addresses discipline in schools. Taking note of the interpretation of the CRC by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the interpretation of the ICCPR by the Human Rights Committee, the Committee states that “corporal punishment is inconsistent with the fundamental guiding principle of international human rights law enshrined in the Preambles to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and both Covenants: the dignity of the individual” (para. 41).


The Committee’s recommendations to states parties

In its examination of states parties on their implementation of the ICESCR, the Committee has consistently raised the issue of discipline in schools and recommended its prohibition. Increasingly, the Committee is recommending prohibition in all settings, including the home. As at November 2018, the Committee had made 31 observations / recommendations on corporal punishment to 27 states.

Extracts from the Committee's recommendations to states on corporal punishment of children can be accessed here by session.
Recommendations are also included in the individual country reports.


Communications/inquiries under the ICESCR

Under the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR, communications can be made to the Committee claiming that the rights of an individual or group of people, including children, have been violated by the state. Information can also be submitted to the Committee indicating serious or systematic violations of the Covenant by the state into which the Committee can make inquiries.

The Optional Protocol, which came into force in May 2013, has been ratified by 24 states (November 2018). There have been no communications or inquiries concerning corporal punishment.


Further information