The Limburg Principles and Migration
In June 1986 a group of distinguished experts in international (human rights) law convened in Maastricht, the Netherlands, to deliberate the nature and scope of state parties’ obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). This meeting resulted in the agreement and adoption of the so-called Limburg Principles on the Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
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These Principles have proven an important step in the development of our understanding of the nature and scope of states’ obligation with regard to economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights. A process that has been continued by the 1997 Maastricht Guidelines on Violations of ESC Rights and the 2011 Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the Area of ESC Rights.
In the 30 years since their adoption, there have been numerous developments in international law. Besides, these Principles were adopted before the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ first session in 1987 and subsequent adoption of authoritative interpretations in the form of General Comments.
Moreover, the challenges now faced in ensuring full implementation of ESC rights have also changed. The current migration and refugee crisis is a painfully graphic example of that. By December 2015 more than one million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe creating division among countries on how best to deal with this situation. The former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres in a statement made in September 2015 said that ‘[t]his is a crisis of political will combined with lack of European unity that is resulting in management mayhem’.
In light of the 30th anniversary of the Limburg Principles, the Maastricht Centre for Human Rights is organising a conference in the area of ESC rights and migration. The goal of the conference is to assess the value and significance of the Limburg Principles in relation to the current migrant and refugee crisis in Europe. Specifically it aims at addressing problems relating to the protection of ESC rights – in the host country – of refugees, asylum-seekers, people who have been denied asylum and/or are undocumented and without a formal status.
The conference will take place on December 1st & 2nd, 2016 in Maastricht, The Netherlands. The conference is targeted at scholars, activists and practitioners working in the area of ESC rights and migration. The first day will combine the annual Theo van Boven lecture and keynote by prof. Philip Alston. The conference will also be open to students.