The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Ann M. Piccard


The United States remains one of only half a dozen U.N. member states that have yet to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The treaty was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, but no steps toward ratification have ever been taken. Meanwhile, the gap between the rich and the poor in this country continues to grow, and is among the highest of any democracy on earth. The United States is historically suspicious of even recognizing economic, social and cultural rights as “rights” that might be amenable to any method of enforcement. As a result, the poor in this country continue to grow poorer, while the rich get richer. This article proposes that this gap between the rich and the poor is neither inevitable nor acceptable in a nation of such abundant resources. This article proposes that the ICESCR’s ultimate goals should be accepted as basic human rights norms in this country, and that the treaty should be ratified. If ratified, and if implementing legislation is enacted, the ICESCR will be an effective tool to ensure that the economic, social and cultural rights of all citizens of the U.S. are domestically enforceable, bringing an end to the notion that the poor must, in fact, always be with us.

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St. Mary's University School of Law