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Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Introduction, The purpose of general comments, U.N. Doc. E/1989/22, annex III at 87 (1989), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI\GEN\1\Rev.6 at 8 (2003).


1. At its second session, in 1988, the Committee decided (E/1988/14, paras. 366 and 367), pursuant to an invitation addressed to it by the Economic and Social Council (resolution 1987/5) and endorsed by the General Assembly (resolution 42/102), to begin, as from its third session, the preparation of general comments based on the various articles and provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights with a view to assisting the States parties in fulfilling their reporting obligations.

2. The Committee, and the sessional working group of governmental experts which existed prior to the creation of the Committee, have examined 138 initial reports and 44 second periodic reports concerning rights covered by articles 6 to 9, 10 to 12 and 13 to 15 of the Covenant as of the end of its third session. This experience covers a significant number of States parties to the Covenant, currently consisting of 92 States. They represent all regions of the world, with different socio-economic, cultural, political and legal systems. Their reports submitted so far illustrate many of the problems which might arise in implementing the Covenant although they have not yet provided any complete picture as to the global situation with regard to the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. The introduction to annex III (General Comments) of the Committee's 1989 report to the Economic and Social Council (E/1989/22) explains the purpose of the general comments as follows:

3. "The Committee endeavours, through its general comments, to make the experience gained so far through the examination of these reports available for the benefit of all States parties in order to assist and promote their further implementation of the Covenant; to draw the attention of the States parties to insufficiencies disclosed by a large number of reports; to suggest improvements in the reporting procedures and to stimulate the activities of the States parties, the international organizations and the specialized agencies concerned in achieving progressively and effectively the full realization of the rights recognized in the Covenant. Whenever necessary, the Committee may, in the light of the experience of States parties and of the conclusions which it has drawn therefrom, revise and update its general comments."


     *  Contained in document E/1989/22.

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