1. The Committee
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the second periodic
report of France on the implementation of the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/1990/6/Add.27) at its 67th
and 68th meetings, held on 16 November 2001 (E/C.12/2001/SR.67 and 68),
and adopted, at its 77th meeting, held on 23 November 2001, the following
2. The Committee
welcomes the second periodic report of the State party, which was prepared
in close conformity with the Committee's guidelines.
3. The Committee
notes with appreciation the quality of the report, the comprehensive
written and oral replies given by the State party, as well as the open
nature of the constructive dialogue with the delegation, which included
government officials with expertise on subjects relevant to the provisions
of the Covenant.
B. Positive aspects
4. The Committee
welcomes the State party's recent efforts to address the problem of
social exclusion in the State party, inter alia, by the adoption
of a framework law of 29 July 1998 to combat social exclusion, particularly
targeting the right to work, the right to housing and the right to health.
5. The Committee
acknowledges the existence of two national human rights institutions,
the National Consultative Commission of Human Rights (Commission
Nationale Consultative des Droits de l'Homme (CNCDH)) and the National
Ombudsman (Le Médiateur de la Republique).
6. The Committee
notes with appreciation the efforts made by the State party to address
unemployment by creating new jobs and by establishing programmes to
improve access to the labour market, such as the PAP (projet d'action
personnalisé) programme for the unemployed and the TRACE (trajet
d'accès à l'emploi) programme, which is especially aimed at young
7. The Committee
welcomes the recent court decisions convicting perpetrators of female
8. The Committee
notes with interest the various initiatives by the State party to combat
the serious problem of domestic violence, including the launching of
a national action plan in 2000.
9. The Committee
also commends the State party for its campaign against alcohol and tobacco
abuse, especially among young people.
10. The Committee
welcomes the measures undertaken by the State party to combat trafficking
in persons, child pornography and sexual exploitation of women and children.
11. The Committee
notes with appreciation the progress made by the State party with regard
to the right to health, particularly by establishing universal coverage
of health care insurance through the Act of 27 July 1999 which extends
health insurance to everyone living in the national territory and provides
100 per cent coverage to persons with a very low income.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Covenant
12. The Committee
notes that there are no factors and difficulties which prevent the effective
implementation of the Covenant in the territory of the State party.
D. Principal subjects of concern
13. The Committee
expresses its concern that, despite the constitutional provision (art.
55) stipulating the primacy of international law over national law and
the monistic principle adopted by the State party incorporating international
law in the domestic legal order, the Covenant and its provisions are
not considered directly applicable by some courts of law (e.g. the Conseil
d'Etat), resulting in a dearth of court decisions in which reference
is made to the Covenant and its provisions. The Committee is also concerned
about the delegation's statement that some economic, social and cultural
rights are not justiciable.
14. The Committee
expresses its concern that, along with the reform of official development
aid (ODA) by the State party, ODA as a percentage of gross national
product (GNP) has been in decline since the 1980s.
15. The Committee
expresses its concern about the lack of recognition of minorities in
France. While the French tradition emphasizes the unity of the State
and the equality of all French citizens, and while there is a commitment
on the part of the State party to respect and protect equal rights for
all, the Committee is of the opinion that the fact that all individuals
are guaranteed equal rights in the State party and that they are all
equal before the law does not mean that minorities do not have the right
to exist and to be protected as such in the State party. The Committee
emphasizes that equality before the law is not always adequate to ensure
the equal enjoyment of human rights, and in particular economic, social
and cultural rights, by certain minority groups in a country.
16. The Committee
is concerned that the State party has not yet changed the minimum age
for marriage for girls (15 years) in the Civil Code to conform with
that for boys (18 years), especially in the light of the delegation's
statement that this discrepancy has not had an actual impact on the
marriage rate, which has demonstrated an increasing average age of marriage
for both sexes.
17. The Committee
is concerned about the increased job insecurity, even under positive
economic conditions, due to, for example, involuntary part-time employment
and the risk of losing employment altogether, which is said to have
contributed to an increased rate of suicide among the population of
18. The Committee
is concerned that the criteria of "representativity" for participation
of trade unions in certain processes such as collective bargaining may
tend to exclude smaller and newer trade unions in favour of the larger
and more established ones and therefore may jeopardize the right of
all trade unions to function freely in accordance with article 8 (c)
of the Covenant.
19. The Committee
notes with regret that the State party has not yet ratified International
Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 117 on Social Policy (Basic
Aims and Standards) of 1962, nor ILO Convention No. 174 on the Prevention
of Major Industrial Accidents of 1993.
20. The Committee
is concerned about the problem and extent of homelessness in the State
party, particularly in the urban areas. The Committee is also concerned
about the inadequacy of government policy aimed at the reduction and
prevention of homelessness.
21. The Committee
requests the State party to provide information in its third periodic
report on: the results of the implementation of the framework law to
combat social exclusion; the results of the national action plan to
combat domestic violence; and the results of the campaign against alcohol
and tobacco abuse.
22. The Committee
strongly encourages the State party to criminalize trafficking in persons.
23. The Committee
recommends that the State party provide proper training to the judiciary,
prosecutors and other officials responsible for the implementation of
the Covenant and its rights, to ensure that these rights are consistently
enforced in courts of law.
24. The Committee
recommends that the State party increase its ODA as a percentage of
GNP to a level approaching the 0.7 per cent goal established by the
25. The Committee
suggests that the State party review its position with regard to minorities,
ensuring that minority groups have the right to exist and to be protected
as such in the State party. The Committee recommends that the State
party withdraw its reservation with regard to article 27 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and that it ratify the Council
of Europe Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities,
as well as the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.
26. The Committee
also recommends that the State party increase its efforts to preserve
regional and minority cultures and languages, and that it undertake
measures to improve education on, and education in, these languages.
27. The Committee
recommends that the legal minimum age for marriage for girls be raised
to 18 years of age.
28. The Committee
recommends that the State party undertake urgent steps to address the
problem of job insecurity, as well as the serious problem of suicides
related to it. The Committee requests that the State party include information
in its third periodic report on the project of the Ministry of Labour
which addresses as a matter of priority the reduction of the number
of suicides among the population of working age and the provision of
assistance to families of suicide victims.
29. The Committee
recommends that the State party ensure that the criteria of participation
and, in particular, the condition of "representativity" do not impede
the right of trade unions to participate freely in processes such as
collective bargaining, irrespective of their size, in accordance with
article 8 (c) of the Covenant.
30. The Committee
strongly recommends that the State party ratify ILO Conventions No.
117 on Social Policy (Basic Aims and Standards) and No. 174 on the Prevention
of Major Industrial Accidents.
31. The Committee
strongly recommends that, in addition to its present campaigns to aid
the homeless, especially during the winter months, the State party devote
particular attention to raising awareness about the phenomenon and that
the State party continue to develop policies on how to address the problem
adequately, and not only as a matter of emergency.
32. The Committee
encourages the State party, as a member of international financial institutions,
in particular the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to
do all it can to ensure that the policies and decisions of those organizations
are in conformity with the obligations of States parties to the Covenant,
in particular the obligations contained in articles 21, 22 and 23 concerning
international assistance and cooperation.
33. The Committee
requests the State party to disseminate the present concluding observations
widely at all levels of society, in particular among State officials
and the judiciary, and to inform the Committee on all steps taken to
implement them in its next periodic report. It also encourages the State
party to continue to involve non-governmental organizations and other
members of civil society in the preparation of its third periodic report.
the Committee requests the State party to submit its third periodic
report by 30 June 2006 and to include in that report detailed information
on the steps it has undertaken to implement the recommendations contained
in the present concluding observations.