The UN on Wednesday welcomed [UN News Centre report] the activation of a mechanism to simplify the means to report human rights abuses to the international community. The instrument, called the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [text, PDF], was developed in 2008 by the international body to provide a voice [UN News Centre backgrounder] to victims of rights abuses but had no effect until the Protocol was adopted by 10 participating nation-states. On Tuesday, Uruguay became the tenth member to ratify the Protocol which activated the provision that the instrument would go into full effect three months from that date, May 5. Calling the event a "major breakthrough," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] welcomed the development [press release] saying the activation of the Protocol would:
"[P]rovide an important platform to expose abuses linked to poverty, discrimination and neglect, which up until now victims have had to endure without any possible recourse at the international level. It will provide a way for individuals, who may otherwise be isolated and powerless, to make the international community aware of their situation."Pillay has requested that the other 160 nations in the UN also ratify the Protocol.
The Protocol only has effect on the nations which have individually ratified it meaning that when the Provision takes effect only Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mongolia, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Uruguay will be subject to its provisions. Some critics have suggested the opt-in nature for the Protocol means that many suspect nations will not be governed by the instrument, leaving those people most in danger of rights abuses with no change in their means to report those abuses.