Article 2: Progressive realisation of rights, non-discrimination

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1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.

2. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

3. Developing countries, with due regard to human rights and their national economy, may determine to what extent they would guarantee the economic rights recognized in the present Covenant to non-nationals.


State Report paragraphs 31-33

In 2002, the Committee noted the ‘favourable economic conditions prevailing in the State Party’ and therefore did not envisage any challenges for the State in implementing the rights contained in ICESCR.1 However, as already noted, this period of economic growth was not sustained and the State went into a serious economic crisis from 2007 onwards. Its banking system was exposed as vulnerable to collapse and, to stabilise this, Ireland entered a financial bailout programme at the end of 2010. The Committee is clear that even in times of recession States must take all steps possible to progressively realise the rights enshrined in the Covenant, and where more than one option is open to it, it will be for the State Party to justify why it made certain choices.2

The State Report (para. 31) refers to the assistance it gives to other countries in relation to the progressive realisation of rights. Notably, it does not reference how it has used its resources to progressively realise ESC rights in the domestic context. The period covered by the State Report (2002-2010) preceded the financial bailout programme and therefore does not identify what principles and frameworks were adopted, if any, to protect human rights in the negotiation, and implementation of, the financial bailout programme.


  • 1 UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2002) Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Ireland, Geneva: OHCHR, para.11.
  • 2 Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2007) An Evaluation of the obligation to take steps to the “maximum of available resources” under an Optional Protocol to the Covenant, Geneva: OHCHR.