1. The Committee
considered the third periodic report of Mexico (E/1994/104/Add.41)
at its 44th to 46th meetings, held on 25 and 26 November 1999, and
adopted, at its 54th meeting (twenty-first session), held on 2 December
1999, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee
welcomes the third periodic report submitted by Mexico and the written
replies to the Committee's list of issues. The Committee notes with
appreciation the presence of the delegation from the capital and the
constructive dialogue that took place during the session.
3. The Committee
takes note of the State party's improved macroeconomic performance,
particularly the reduction of foreign debt, the decrease in inflation
and the growth of export capacity, all of which create an environment
conducive to a more effective implementation of the rights under the
4. The Committee
welcomes the establishment of an inter-ministerial national committee
to follow up on recommendations adopted by international human rights
5. The Committee
notes with satisfaction the increase in social expenditure, which
now stands at 8.9 per cent of the gross domestic product, and takes
note of the numerous programmes, such as the Programme for Education,
Health and Nutrition (PROGRESA), established to improve the enjoyment
of economic, social and cultural rights by the most marginalized segments
6. The Committee
appreciates the measures taken by the State party to alleviate any
negative effects that the implementation of the North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA) might have on certain vulnerable sectors of
7. The Committee
welcomes the accession of Mexico to the anti-corruption conventions
of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the
Organization of American States.
8. The Committee
appreciates the establishment of a National Programme for Women (Programa
Nacional de la Mujer), which has a Surveillance Counsel to monitor
and assist victims of intra-familial violence.
9. The Committee
welcomes the establishment of a special governmental body (Procuraduría
Nacional de la Defensa de los Trabajadores) to provide free legal
assistance to workers.
10. The Committee
also welcomes the recent conclusion of a memorandum of understanding,
by which the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights will provide agreed technical assistance to the State party.
11. The Committee
welcomes the positive attitude the Government of Mexico demonstrates
with regard to a future adoption of an optional protocol to the Covenant.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the
12. The Committee
notes that the economic crisis experienced by Mexico in 1995 has had
negative effects on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural
rights by its population, in particular the most vulnerable sectors,
which are still being experienced in Mexico as a significant amount
of public funds is being invested in overcoming the effects of the
13. The Committee
also takes note of the natural disasters experienced by Mexico and
acknowledges the limitations they impose on the Government in guaranteeing
the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights to its
population at all times.
14. The Committee
notes the prevalence of certain traditions, customs and cultural practices
in Mexico which continue to impede the full enjoyment by women of
their rights under the Covenant.
D. Principal subjects of concern
15. The Committee
expresses concern about the insufficient efforts taken by the State
party to comply with the concluding observations and specific recommendations
adopted after the examination of its previous report.
16. The Committee
is concerned that very little progress has been achieved by the State
party during the period under review, despite its efforts to reduce
poverty. It is disturbed by the increase in the number of persons
living in poverty and extreme poverty. The Committee considers that
unless the structural causes of poverty are properly addressed, a
more equitable distribution of wealth between the various sectors
of society, between states and between rural and urban areas will
not be achieved.
17. The Committee
is also concerned about the unbalanced approach of the State party
to addressing various regional economic and social problems that prevail
in the neglected and vulnerable sectors of Mexican society.
18. The Committee
is concerned about the persisting plight of indigenous populations,
particularly those of Chiapas, Guerrero, Veracruz and Oaxaca, who
have limited access to, inter alia, health services, education,
work, adequate nutrition and housing.
19. The Committee
considers that the problem of corruption also has negative effects
on the full implementation of economic, social and cultural rights.
The Committee is therefore not satisfied with the information provided
by the State party on the measures taken to combat the effects of
this serious problem with regard to the rights protected by the Covenant.
20. The Committee
regrets that despite the positive growth of macroeconomic indicators
in Mexico, especially the sharp decrease in the level of inflation,
the National Minimum Wage Commission has not adjusted the minimum
wage level upwards. At present, about five minimum wages are needed
to obtain the officially set basic food basket (canasta básica
constitucional), in violation of article 7 (a) (ii) of the Covenant
and as reflected in national legislation (article 123.VI of the Constitution).
21. The Committee
is deeply concerned about the situation of women workers in the maquiladoras,
some of whom are subjected to pregnancy tests upon recruitment and
at intervals during work, and are dismissed if found to be pregnant.
22. The Committee
regrets the State party's lack of commitment to increase the minimum
working age of children from 14 to 16, since the age of 16 is when
basic education is normally concluded.
23. The Committee
also regrets the absence of plans to withdraw the State party's reservation
to article 8 of the Covenant, although the right to form trade unions
and the right to strike are enshrined in the Mexican Constitution
and in the corresponding regulatory laws. The Committee regrets in
particular the fact that trade unionism in the public sector is not
pluralistic, and that trade union officials are not elected by direct
24. The Committee
is concerned about the privatization of the social security system,
which may exclude from certain benefits those not in a position to
contribute to an individual pension account, such as the unemployed,
underemployed, lower-paid workers and those employed in the informal
25. The Committee
is concerned about the presence of numerous military and paramilitary
forces within the indigenous community of Chiapas and other states
in the region, and in particular about the allegations made by civil
society organizations that these elements interfere with the supervision
and implementation of development programmes and the distribution
of economic and social assistance, and about the lack of consultations
with the communities concerned.
26. The Committee
is alarmed about the high rate of domestic violence, and in particular
domestic violence against women. The Committee is also deeply concerned
about the growth in the number of street children despite the efforts
of the Government to tackle the problem.
27. The Committee
regrets the lack of a satisfactory response to its previous concluding
observations, as well as to the written and oral questions put to
the delegation, concerning forced evictions. The Committee to date
has not received a satisfactory answer to its queries about the extent
of the problem and the measures taken by the Government to protect
all citizens against forced evictions. Moreover, the Committee remains
concerned about the housing shortage and the unsatisfactory condition
of a high percentage of the housing stock, especially in rural areas
where a significant number of dwellings lack electricity, adequate
sewage disposal and piped water.
28. The Committee
is concerned about the persisting malnutrition, especially in rural
areas and among children under five years of age. The Committee is
also alarmed to learn that malnutrition-related illnesses are among
the chief causes of mortality in Mexico.
29. The Committee
is also concerned to learn that the fourth highest cause of death
among women in Mexico is illegal abortion.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
30. The Committee
recommends that the State party identify benchmarks to assist it in
monitoring the progress made in combating poverty. The Committee would
appreciate an evaluation by the State party, in its fourth periodic
report, of the progress made in improving the enjoyment of economic,
social and cultural rights by the Mexican population, using the identified
benchmarks as reference points, complemented by statistical information.
31. The Committee
urges the State party to address the structural causes of poverty
in Mexico and to adjust the social programmes accordingly. Furthermore,
the Committee invites the State party to involve closely the civil
society in general, and the target groups in particular, in the planning,
implementation and evaluation of these programmes.
32. The Committee
recommends that the State party take effective measures to intensify
its efforts to combat corruption, since this problem negatively affects
the full implementation of the rights protected by the Covenant, including
legal action against those responsible for acts of corruption.
33. The Committee
recommends that the allocation of development resources by the State
party be conducted in an equitable manner, irrespective of geographic
location and the populations concerned.
34. The Committee
calls upon the State party, when negotiating with international financial
institutions and implementing structural adjustment programmes and
macroeconomic policies affecting foreign debt servicing, integration
into the global free market economy, etc., to take into account their
effect on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, in
particular for the most vulnerable groups of society.
35. The Committee
recommends that the State party continue to strengthen its efforts
to alleviate any negative effects that the implementation of NAFTA
might have on certain vulnerable sectors of the population.
36. The Committee
calls upon the State party to adopt effective measures to guarantee
compliance with article 7 (a) (ii) of the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is reflected in article
123.VI of the Mexican Constitution, in relation to the officially
set basic food basket.
37. The Committee
also urges the State party to adopt immediate steps towards the protection
of women workers in the maquiladoras, including prohibiting
the practice of demanding medical certification that prospective workers
are not pregnant and taking legal action against employers who fail
38. The Committee
recommends that the State party consider ratifying the Minimum Age
Convention, 1973 (Convention No. 138) of the International Labour
39. The Committee
calls upon the State party to comply with its obligations under article
8 of the Covenant and to withdraw its reservation made under that
40. The Committee
urges the State party to take more effective measures to combat domestic
violence, in particular domestic violence against women, and the serious
problem of street children. The Committee also urges the State party
to remedy the root causes of these problems.
41. The Committee
urges the State party to increase its efforts to provide adequate
housing at affordable prices, particularly to the poorest segments
of society. The Committee wishes to receive more detailed information
on the number of forced evictions and the manner in which these are
carried out. The Committee recommends that the State party establish
mechanisms that record evictions and their follow-up, take immediate
remedial action against forced evictions, and report back on this
issue to the Committee in its fourth periodic report.
42. The Committee
urges the State party to continue taking more effective measures to
ensure access to basic health-care services for all children and to
combat malnutrition, especially among children belonging to indigenous
groups living in rural and remote areas.
43. The Committee
calls upon the State party to monitor closely the female mortality
rate and to take steps to reduce the incidence of death caused by
illegal abortion. In particular, the Committee recommends that the
State party intensify its educational campaign regarding women's sexual
and reproductive health, and include such subjects in school curricula.
44. The Committee
recommends that in the State of Chiapas and other states in the region,
the State party supervise and regulate the role of military or paramilitary
forces in order to guarantee that development and social assistance
programmes are implemented with the active participation of the populations
concerned and without the interference of armed forces.
45. The Committee
requests the State party to address in a separate section of its fourth
periodic report the implementation of the present concluding observations.
46. The Committee
recommends to the State party to take the necessary measures to ensure
that the provisions of the Covenant are widely disseminated, through
human rights education in all curricula, among all sectors of society,
particularly among the judiciary and administrative authorities.
47. The Committee
requests the State party to ensure dissemination of these concluding