The European Union attaches great importance to the interdependence of all human rights. The indivisibility of civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights is a fundamental tenet of international human rights law, as illustrated by the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
In a world where a large part of the population is suffering from hunger every day and is lacking access to safe drinking water, to health services or adequate housing, the importance of a strong commitment to the full realisation of economic, social and cultural rights becomes self-evident.
While the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provides a comprehensive overview of the various economic, social and cultural rights, it is important to note that these rights are also further described in other conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms against Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to cite only a few.
The European Union uses a broad set of financial instruments (Global Public Goods and Challenges, civil society organisations and local authorities, European Instrument for Democracy and Human Right etc.) in partnership with Member States and many other donors to support actions and projects aimed at promoting and reinforcing economic social and cultural rights worldwide.
In particular, the engagement for the protection of ESCR has been reinforced in the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) strategy 2014-2020 which specifically refers to the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to an adequate standard of living and core labour standards but also to corporate social responsibility, in particular through the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Over the past years, a broad range of actors (civil society organisations, social partners, national Human Rights institutions and international organisations) have been supported through projects that have resulted so far inter alia in promoting inter cultural dialogues, increasing protection of labour rights, improving access to drinkable water, supporting land and environmental rights defenders and promoting of the right to housing. Recently, particular attention has been given to the issue of business and human rights in line with the commitments made under the Action Plan on Human rights and Democracy 2015-2019 (objective 18) and with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.