1. The Committee
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the fourth periodic
report of Germany on the implementation of the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/C.12/4/Add.3) at its 48th
and 49th meetings (E/C.12/2001/48 and 49), held on 24 August 2001,
and adopted, at its 58th meeting (E/C.12/2001/58), held on 31 August
2001, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee
welcomes the third periodic report of the State party, which was prepared
in general conformity with the Committee's guidelines.
3. The Committee
notes with appreciation the high quality of the extensive written
and oral replies given by the State party, as well as the open and
constructive dialogue with the delegation, which included government
officials with expertise in the subjects relevant in the context of
B. Positive aspects
4. The Committee
recognizes that the State party is at present actively promoting economic,
social and cultural rights both nationally and internationally. The
Committee particularly welcomes recent positive developments concerning
these rights, such as the consultation organized by the State party
on the right to food in Bonn in March 2001, the State party's efforts
at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to establish the
mandate of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component
of the right to an adequate standard of living, and its revised and
more favourable position on a draft optional protocol to the Covenant.
5. The Committee
acknowledges the efforts made by the State party to combat racism
and xenophobia, in particular the creation by the Federal Government
of the Alliance for Democracy and Tolerance Against Extremism and
6. The Committee
notes with satisfaction that the State party has involved the NGO
forum World Forum for Social Development in the preparation of its
report, in accordance with the Committee's recommendation in 1998
(E/C.12/1/Add.29, para. 39).
7. The Committee
also notes with appreciation that the State party is committed to
international cooperation and the provision of development aid, in
both bilateral and multilateral frameworks, to combat poverty and
promote economic, social and cultural rights.
8. The Committee
warmly welcomes the creation of the Parliamentary Committee on Human
Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in 2000 and the German National Human
Rights Institute (DIMR) in 2001.
9. The Committee
acknowledges with appreciation the efforts made by the State party
towards the elimination of disparities in living conditions between
old and new Länder since reunification in 1990.
10. The Committee
welcomes the revision of the State party's legislation and policy
on naturalization, which now facilitates the acquisition of German
11. The Committee
recognizes the progress achieved by the State party against commercial
sexual exploitation, in particular of minors.
C. Principal subjects of concern
welcoming the recent establishment of the DIMR, the Committee notes
that the Institute's functions appear to be limited to research, education
and the provision of policy advice, and that it does not enjoy the
powers often associated with national human rights institutions, such
as the power to investigate complaints, conduct national inquiries
and formulate recommendations for employers and other actors. In the
context of the Covenant, these limitations are especially regrettable
because economic, social and cultural rights receive less attention
and enjoy fewer safeguards than civil and political rights in the
13. The Committee
reiterates its concern about the lack of any court decisions in which
reference is made to the Covenant and its provisions, as indicated
by the statement made by the State party in its written replies to
the list of issues and as confirmed by the delegation during its dialogue
with the Committee. The Committee is concerned that judges are not
provided with adequate training on human rights, in particular on
the rights guaranteed in the Covenant. A similar lack of human rights
training is discerned among prosecutors and other actors responsible
for the implementation of the Covenant.
14. The Committee
expresses its concern that there is no comprehensive and consistent
system in place that ensures that the Covenant is taken into account
in the formulation and implementation of all legislation and policies
concerning economic, social and cultural rights.
15. The Committee
regrets that, according to UNDP, the State party devoted 0.26 per
cent of its GNP to official development assistance (ODA) in 1998,
well below the goal of 0.7 per cent set by the United Nations.
16. The Committee
is concerned about the considerable length of time taken to process
applications for asylum, resulting in the limitation of the enjoyment
of the economic, social and cultural rights enshrined in the Covenant
by asylum-seekers and their dependents.
17. The Committee
is concerned that, despite the great efforts made by the State party
to narrow the gap between the new and the old Länder, considerable
differences continue to exist, particularly in terms of generally
lower standards of living, a higher unemployment rate, and lower wages
for civil servants in the new Länder.
18. The Committee
expresses its concern about the high levels of unemployment that continue
to persist in the State party, especially among the youth. The problem
of youth unemployment is particularly grave in the new Länder, resulting
in the migration of young persons to the old Länder. The Committee
is further concerned that vocational training programmes for the youth
are not adequately adapted to their needs.
the ILO, the Committee is concerned about the persisting impediments
to women in German society, in terms of promotion in employment and
equal wages for work of equal value, both in the private and public
sectors, and especially in federal bodies and academic institutions,
despite the efforts of the State party to give a new impetus to the
equal participation of women in the labour market.
20. The Committee
is concerned that the State party has not adequately addressed the
issue of illegal workers who are employed in the "shadow economy",
such as workers in households, hotel and catering industries, agriculture
and the cleaning and building industries, who do not enjoy any rights
or protection and do not get paid regularly or adequately.
21. The Committee
is concerned that prisoners who undertake labour for private companies
may be doing so without having expressed their prior consent.
22. The Committee
reiterates its concern, in line with the Human Rights Committee and
the ILO Committee of Experts, that the prohibition by the State party
of strikes by public servants other than public officials who do not
provide essential services, such as judges, so-called Beamte
and teachers, constitutes a restriction of the activities of trade
unions that is beyond the scope of article 8 (2) of the Covenant.
The Committee disagrees with the State party's statement that "a strike
would be incompatible with this duty of loyalty and would run counter
to the purpose of a professional civil service" (E/C.12/4/Add.3, para.
82), as this interpretation of "the administration of the State" mentioned
in article 8 (2) of the Covenant exceeds the more restrictive interpretations
by the Committee, the ILO (Convention No. 98) and the European Court
23. The Committee
is concerned that the State party's reformed social security, and
the pension system under reform, do not take sufficiently into consideration
the needs of families, women, elderly persons and the more disadvantaged
groups in society. The Committee notes that the pension reform is
currently still in progress, but that the Federal Constitutional Court
recently referred to potential discrimination against families under
the scheme as envisaged.
24. The Committee
expresses its grave concern about inhumane conditions in nursing homes
owing to structural deficiencies in nursing, as confirmed by the Medical
Service of the national associations of health insurances (MDS).
25. The Committee
is concerned that the victims of trafficking in persons, and in particular
women, are doubly victimized, owing to a lack of sensitization of
police, judges and public prosecutors, a lack of appropriate care
for victims, and the risks and dangers awaiting them upon deportation
to their home countries.
26. The Committee
is concerned about the shortage of child day care institutions, which
constitutes an obstacle to women's equal participation in the labour
market, as well as to the State party's efforts to promote gender
27. The Committee
reiterates its concern that the State party has not yet established
a definition of poverty, nor a poverty threshold. The Committee is
particularly concerned about the fact that social assistance provided
to the poor and socially excluded - such as single parents, students
and disabled pensioners - under the Federal Social Assistance Act
is not commensurate with an adequate standard of living.
28. The Committee
reiterates its concern about the rising number and plight of homeless
persons in Germany, as mentioned in the Committee's concluding observations
29. The Committee
is concerned that several Länder have abandoned the principle of free
higher education by requiring the payment of fees, which in some cases
are allocated to cover administrative costs of the Länder, and not
E. Suggestions and recommendations
the limited functions and powers of the DIMR, the Committee recommends
that the State party take steps either to extend the Institute's functions
and powers, or to establish a separate national human rights institution
with broad functions and powers, such as those indicated in paragraph
12. In the meantime, the Committee recommends that the DIMR, consistent
with its existing functions and powers: devote the same attention
to economic, social and cultural rights as to civil and political
rights; organize programmes to raise awareness of economic, social
and cultural rights, especially among public officials, lawyers and
the judiciary; give particular attention to the relationship between
human rights and international cooperation; and be responsible for
preparing a comprehensive plan of action, as called for in Part II,
paragraph 71, of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
31. 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 2 (1), 11, 15, 22 and 23 concerning international assistance
32. The Committee
suggests that the State party review and strengthen its institutional
arrangements within the public administration, to ensure that its
obligations under the Covenant are taken into account at an early
stage in the formulation of legislation and policy on issues relating
to social welfare and assistance, housing, health and education. The
State party is further encouraged to introduce "human rights impact
assessments", comparable to environmental impact assessments, to ensure
that the provisions of the Covenant are given due attention in all
legislative and administrative policy and decision-making processes.
33. The Committee
urges the State party to ensure that its percentage of GNP devoted
to ODA rises steadily towards the United Nations goal of 0.7 per cent.
34. The Committee
recommends that the State party address more expeditiously applications
for asylum in order to avoid limiting applicants' enjoyment of their
economic, social and cultural rights.
35. The Committee
encourages the State party to continue undertaking measures to ensure
that the differences between new and old Länder in terms of standard
of living, employment and wages for civil servants are decreased.
36. The Committee
recommends that the State party take immediate necessary measures
to continue to address the high level of unemployment, especially
among the youth and in particular in the Länder faced with higher
levels of unemployment. The Committee also recommends that the State
party provide incentives for young persons to stay and work in their
37. The Committee
recommends that the State party continue to undertake necessary measures,
including legislative and administrative ones, to ensure that women
enjoy full and equal participation in the labour market, particularly
in terms of promotion and equal wages for work of equal value.
38. The Committee
strongly recommends that the State party take the necessary legislative
and administrative measures to oblige employers to respect labour
legislation and to declare the persons they employ, in order to reduce
the number of illegal workers who do not enjoy the minimum protection
of their rights to social security and health care.
39. The Committee
recommends that the State party undertake measures to ensure that
prisoners working for private companies do so after having expressed
their prior consent.
40. The Committee
reiterates its recommendation to the State party that it ensure that
civil servants who do not provide essential services have the right
to strike, in accordance with article 8 of the Covenant.
41. The Committee
urges the State party to ensure that the reformed social security
system, and the pension system under reform, take into account the
situation and needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in society.
In particular, the Committee strongly urges the State party to address
the problems and deficiencies emerging in the implementation of the
long-term insurance scheme. The Committee requests the State party
to provide detailed information on the results of the implementation
of the reformed pension scheme in its next periodic report.
42. The Committee
also urges the State party to adopt urgent measures to improve the
situation of patients in nursing homes.
43. The Committee
strongly recommends that the State party undertake training programmes
for those dealing with victims of trafficking in persons to ensure
that they are sensitized to the needs of the victims, to provide better
protection and appropriate care, and to ensure that victims can claim
redress before courts of law.
44. The Committee
recommends that the State party increase the availability of child
day care institutions, especially in the western Länder.
45. The Committee
urges the State party to establish a poverty threshold for its territory,
taking into account the parameters used in the State party's first
poverty and prosperity report, as well as international definitions
of poverty, including the one adopted in the Committee's statement
on poverty. In particular, the Committee urges the State party to
ensure that social assistance provided under the Federal Social Assistance
Act is commensurate with an adequate standard of living.
46. The Committee
also urges the State party to take effective measures, and to devise
programmes, to examine the extent and causes of homelessness in Germany
and to ensure an adequate standard of living for the homeless.
47. The Committee
recommends that the State party's Federal Government introduce a reduction
of tuition fees in the national framework legislation regulating higher
education, with a view to abolishing them. The Committee requests
the State party to provide detailed and updated information and comparative
statistical data on the quality of tertiary education, such as class
sizes, in its next periodic report. The Committee also requests the
State party to provide up-to-date information in its next periodic
report on the extent of human rights education in the German education
48. The Committee
requests the State party to disseminate its concluding observations
widely among all levels of society and to inform the Committee of
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 next periodic report.
the Committee requests the State party to submit its fifth periodic
report by 30 June 2006, and to include in this report detailed information
on the steps it has undertaken to implement the recommendations contained
in the present concluding observations.