My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
The NGO Coalition for an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has launched a Toolkit for Action for the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR.
The Toolkit provides practical guidance to NGOs and other civil society groups, as well as States on their work around the Optional Protocol. The Toolkit aims to facilitate international and national advocacy work for the ratification and the entry into force of the Protocol and the national implementation of economic, social and cultural rights.
The Toolkit includes four Booklets:
Booklet 1: Refreshing Your Knowledge about the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – explains:
• The content of the Covenant that the Optional Protocol seeks to enforce.
• States’ obligations under the Covenant, the role of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the body of experts in charge of implementing the Optional Protocol and the challenges related to the implementation and enforcement of ESCR.
Booklet 2: Overview: The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – describes:
• The procedures and mechanisms introduced by the Optional Protocol.
• The adoption and ratification process of the Optional Protocol.
• The competence of the Committee to receive and consider complaints against States Parties.
Booklet 3: Why Should States Ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights?
• Outlines some of the key incentives for States to ratify and implement the Optional Protocol.
• Challenges the myths contesting the justiciability of ESCR.
• Offers tools to advocate for ratification and domestic implementation of the Optional Protocol.
Booklet 4: Tools to Lobby Your Country and Advocate for the Ratification and Implementation of the Optional Protocol:
• This final Booklet provides information, resources and templates to assist civil society groups in their lobbying efforts for the ratification and implementation of the Optional Protocol.
The Booklets can be accessed at the following website: