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United Nations experts’ official hearing on France's report confirms the view of NGOs and trade unions

The UN committee on ESCR, meeting in Geneva on the 29th and 30th April, examined whether France was meeting its international commitments on economic, social and cultural rights.

These experts explicitly pointed out numerous failings by the French state in guaranteeing these rights to people resident in France.

The experts' observations and questions particularly focused on:

  • multiple discriminations in access to employment, in particular for women, the disabled, the young and immigrant communities
  • growth of the phenomenon of the 'working poor'
  • insufficient social protection offered to the young, and the low level of social security granted by the French state
  • insufficient availability of housing, and the gravity of the situation of the homeless or badly housed in France
  • the lack of a global approach by France in fighting exclusion
  • access to ordinary law being replaced by taxation and penalties
  • the absence of clarity in French policy regarding international development, in particular regarding the number of its commitments to development aid.

Several experts from the committee emphasized the absence of mechanisms for evaluating the many effects of governmental announcements, and the absence of a guarantee of the effectiveness and the enforceability of laws that France has nonetheless committed to guarantee. The report presented by France was described as a 'governance' report, which does not correspond to the approach required when a state ratifies the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights - namely, an approach based on laws and their effectiveness.

The committee's remarks largely tally with the conclusions of the alternative report put together in advance of the hearing by NGOs and French unions. The committee experts made liberal use of the report, and even directly quoted from it during the examination session.

The conclusions of the examination backs up the analysis of the French Network for ESCR, and its recommendations to the French government. The alternative report denounced the increasing incidence of discrimination and the growth of poverty in France; it also sounded the alarm about the ineffectiveness of the measures taken to fight exclusion, and the recent adoption of policies reinforcing inequality and discrimination..

The members of the Network therefore call on France to comply with its international commitments by carrying out an in-depth revision of policies which are supposed to guarantee economic, social and cultural rights for all people on its territory.

Amélie Canonne, CRID (+33 (0)6 24 40 07 06)

Annick Coupé, Union syndicale solidaires (+33 (0)6 70 51 39 57)

Michèle Grelot, ATD Quart-Monde (+33 (0)6 60 78 02 22)

Dominique Guibert, Ligue des Droits de l'Homme (+33 (0)6 08 94 35 09)

On the initiative of CRID, FIDH and LDH, more than twenty organisations and trade unions created the French Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: ALPIL (Action Locale Pour l'Insertion par le Logement / Local Action for Integration through Housing), Adéquations, AIH (Alliance International des Habitants / International Alliance of Inhabitants), Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth), AITEC (Association Internationale des Techniciens Experts et Chercheurs / International Association of Technicians Experts and Researchers), APF (Association des Paralysés de France / French Association for Paralysed People), CGT Spectacle (FFNSAC-CGT), CRID (Coordination Nationale des Comités de Défense des Hopitaux at des Materniteés de Proximité / National Umbrella Group for the Defence of Local Hospitals and Maternity Wards), FAPIL (Fédération des Associations pour la Promotion et l'Insertion par le Logement / Federation of Associations for the Promotion of Integration through Housing), FIAN (Foodfirst Information and Action Network), FIDH (Fédération Internationale des Droits de l'Homme / International Human Rights Federation), FSU (Fédération Syndicale Unitaire), France Terre d'Asile, Gisti (Groupe d'Information et de Soutien des Immigrés / Information and Support Group for Immigrants), IPAM (Initiative Pour un Autre Monde / Initiative for a Different World), LDH (Ligue des Droits de l'Homme / Human Rights League), Mouvement ATD Quart Monde, Oxfam France-agir ici, Peuple et Culture, Union Syndicale Solidaires, UNSA, Terre des Hommes, La Voix des Roms, and with the contribution of the Fondation Abbé Pierre.

See the report:


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