CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER
ARTICLES 16 AND 17 OF THE COVENANT
Concluding Observations of the Committee on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
1. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the second periodic report of New Zealand on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/1990/6/Add.33) at its eleventh and twelfth meetings, held on 12 May 2003 (E/C.12/2003/SR.11 and 12), and adopted, at its twenty-ninth meeting held on 23 May 2003, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes the second periodic report of the State party, which was prepared in conformity with the Committee's guidelines. The Committee is particularly satisfied with the comprehensive information provided in the report and in the written replies given by the State party. The Committee also notes with satisfaction that the State party's core document had recently been updated.
3. The Committee welcomes the open and constructive dialogue with the high-level delegation of the State party.
B. POSITIVE ASPECTS
4. The Committee notes with appreciation the State party's continuing efforts to comply with its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
5. The Committee welcomes the Human Rights Amendment Act 2001
which transformed the Race Relations Office and Human Rights Commission
into a new Human Rights Commission with a broader human rights mandate that
is charged with developing a National Plan of Action for human rights.
6. The Committee notes with appreciation the efforts undertaken
by the State party to ensure the enjoyment by indigenous Maori people of
their rights under the Covenant. The Committee notes with satisfaction that
the State party's delegation included a senior official of the Ministry
of Maori Development.
7. The Committee welcomes the Employment Relations Act of
2000 which facilitates collective bargaining, strengthens the role of trade
unions and introduces measures of protection against harassment and discrimination
in the work place. The Committee also welcomes the State party's indication
of the imminent ratification of ILO Convention No. 98 (Right to Organise
and Collective Bargaining).
8. The Committee welcomes the introduction of new legislation
providing for a Government-funded parental leave scheme, whereby 12 weeks'
paid parental leave is granted to either parent. The Committee also notes
the statement made by the State party that it intends to withdraw its reservation
under article 10 (2) of the Covenant.
9. The Committee appreciates the information on the right to water provided in the report of the State party (paragraphs 417-418), which was submitted even prior to the adoption of the Committee's General Comment No. 15.
C. FACTORS AND DIFFICULTIES IMPEDING THE IMPLEMENTATION
OF THE COVENANT
10. The Committee notes the absence of any significant factors or difficulties impeding the effective implementation of the Covenant by the State party.
D. PRINCIPAL SUBJECTS OF CONCERN
11. The Committee notes with regret the view expressed by
the State party's delegation that economic, social and cultural rights are
not necessarily justiciable.
12. The Committee notes with concern the relatively high unemployment
rate among young people.
13. The Committee notes with regret that the State party has
not ratified a number of ILO conventions in the area of labour and social
security rights, namely Conventions Nos. 87 (Freedom of Association and
Protection of the Right to Organize), 117 (Social Policy) and 118 (Equality
14. While noting that measures are being taken by the State
party to redress inequality between men and women with regard to employment
conditions, the Committee is concerned about the persistence of a gap between
the wages of women and men, in contradiction with the principle of equal
pay for work of equal value.
15. While taking note of the measures taken by the State party
to confront domestic violence under the Ministry of Health Family Violence
Project, the Committee is concerned about the persistence of the phenomenon
among all socio-economic groups and especially among the indigenous Maori
16. The Committee is concerned about the relatively high suicide
rate, especially among young people, in the State party.
17. The Committee notes with concern that nearly one in four
persons lives in poverty according to the measurement commonly used in the
State party and that clear indicators are lacking to estimate the effectiveness
of measures to combat poverty.
18. The Committee notes with concern that despite improvements
in some health indicators, the general health situation of the indigenous
Maori people continues to be comparatively worse than that of other segments
of the population in the State party. In particular, the Committee is concerned
that the life expectancy of Maoris is significantly lower than the national
19. The Committee notes with concern that the provision of
secondary and tertiary health care services in rural and remote areas is
considerably inferior to that in urban areas.
20. The Committee is concerned about persistent inequalities between the Maori and non-Maori people in access to education and the high drop-out rates, especially among Maori children and young people and the disadvantaged and marginalized groups.
E. SUGGESTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
21. Affirming the principle of the interdependence and indivisibility
of all human rights, the Committee encourages the State party to reconsider
its position regarding the justiciability of economic, social and cultural
rights. Moreover, the Committee points out that the State party remains
under an obligation to give full effect to the Covenant in its domestic
legal order, providing for judicial and other remedies for violations of
economic, social and cultural rights. In this respect, the Committee draws
the attention of the State party to its General Comment No. 9 on the domestic
application of the Covenant.
22. The Committee invites the State party to submit, in its
next periodic report, its views and comments on the proposal for an optional
protocol to the Covenant to be examined by the Open-ended Working Group
established by the Commission on Human Rights in 2003.
23. The Committee recommends that the national Human Rights
Commission takes up economic, social and cultural rights as a comprehensive
topic and ensures that those rights are duly reflected in the National Plan
of Action for Human Rights.
24. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthens
its efforts to reduce unemployment among young people and requests further
information on this matter in its next periodic report.
25. The Committee encourages the State party to ratify ILO
Conventions Nos. 87, 117 and 118 and to withdraw its reservation to article
8 of the Covenant.
26. The Committee encourages the State party to take measures
to increase awareness of the possibility of bringing complaints before the
Employment Relations Authority or the Human Rights Commission in cases of
27. The Committee recommends the State party to continue and
intensify programmes to reduce inequality between men and women in the work
place, including ensuring equal pay for work of equal value.
28. While acknowledging the on-going reform of the social welfare system, the Committee recommends that in targeting assistance more specifically to disadvantaged and marginalized groups, including persons with special needs, single parent families and homeless persons, concerns to contain costs do not lead to a decrease in the level of effective social protection.
29. Given the complexity of the social welfare system with
a range of different social security benefits, assistance measures and entitlement
conditions, the Committee recommends that the State party widely disseminates
accessible information on the system to all, and especially to those who
owing to language, educational or cultural difficulties, need specific targeted
30. The Committee recommends that the State party intensifies
measures taken to combat domestic violence and that it provides, in its
next periodic report, information on the results achieved in the implementation
of the Te Rito: New Zealand Family Violence Prevention Strategy, including
statistical data on cases of domestic violence, disaggregated by sex, ethnic
group and age.
31. The Committee calls upon the State party to take effective
measures to address the relatively high suicide rate, particularly among
young people. The Committee requests the State party to provide further
information on this matter, on a comparative and disaggregated basis, in
its next periodic report.
32. The Committee recommends that the State party adopts a
national plan to combat poverty with clear indicators to assess its impact
on the incidence of poverty, in particular among disadvantaged and marginalized
groups, the indigenous Maori people, and Pacific Islanders. In this respect,
the Committee refers the State party to its Statement on Poverty adopted
on 4 May 2001 (E/C.12/2001/10).
33. The Committee requests the State party to adopt effective
measures to improve the health situation of the indigenous Maori people.
34. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen
its efforts to ensure equitable access to health services in both rural
and remote areas. The Committee draws the attention of the State party in
this regard to its General Comment No. 14. The State party is also requested
to provide detailed information, on a disaggregated and comparative basis,
on progress made in this respect in its next periodic report.
35. The Committee urges the State party to take remedial action
to ensure that the indigenous Maori people have equal access to education.
Moreover, the Committee requests the State party to provide in its next
periodic report disaggregated data on a comparative basis on enrolment and
drop-out rates among Maori children and young people, and the disadvantaged
and marginalized groups.
36. The Committee encourages the State party to provide human
rights education in schools at all levels and to raise awareness about human
rights, in particular economic, social and cultural rights, among State
officials and the judiciary.
37. The Committee requests the State party to disseminate
its concluding observations widely among all levels of society, including
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 consult with non-governmental organizations
and other institutions of civil society when preparing its third periodic
38. The Committee requests the State party to submit its third periodic report by 30 June 2008.