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A United Nations treaty designed to empower people to uphold their economic, social and cultural rights edged closer to entering into force today when one country ratified it and two others signed the document.

Spain ratified the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights on the third day of the annual treaty event at UN Headquarters in New York, bringing to three the number of ratifications so far. The protocol requires the endorsements of 10 States to become operational.

Kazakhstan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) signed the protocol, bringing the number of signatories to 35.

The protocol allows the Committee overseeing the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to receive complaints from individuals or groups within a State Party concerning alleged violations of the rights defined by the covenant. They include the rights to work, to social security, to education and to adequate standard of living, among other entitlements.

The DRC also signed the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea today, and acceded to three other treaties – the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism; and the UN Convention against Corruption.