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 are fundamental tenets of international human rights law, and was already illustrated by the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which contains both dimensions.
In a world where a large part of the world's population is still hungry every night, lacks access to safe drinking water or to health services and has no adequate housing, the importance of a strong commitment to the full realisation of economic, social and cultural rights becomes self-evident.
Failing to protect economic, social and cultural rights can have serious consequences. For example, malnutrition has a clear health impact and forced evictions can result in homelessness, the loss of livelihood and the destruction of social networks and has serious psychological effects.
The denial of economic, social and cultural rights can lead to violations of other human rights. It is often harder for individuals who cannot read and write to find work, to take part in political activity or to exercise their freedom of expression.
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 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 a few.
Under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, a great variety of projects are supported to advance economic, social and cultural rights worldwide. These project have contributed to the strengthening of trade unions in Armenia and Fiji, to improved access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation in Costa Rica, to the recognition of small-scale marginalised fair trade producers in Egypt, and to the increased involvement of citizens in the budgeting process in Kazachstan as well as improved awareness about the right to health and education in Sudan and Zimbabwe.