UK defaults on United Nations Protocol

Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
United Nations Secretariat Building, Room S-3110, New York, NY 10017, USA

RE: Government breach of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The United Nation’s International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was adopted by the United Kingdom in 1976.

The United Kingdom government discriminates against more than half-a-million pensioners who have retired to Commonwealth countries and who, as a result, have their state pensions frozen at the point of leaving the UK; while pensioners retiring to other “preferred” countries such as USA, Israel, Philippines and Turkey receive the same annual increases as pensioners residing in the UK.

Therefore, the United Kingdom fails to comply with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and, in particular, with the following:

  • Article 9 of the Covenant, which recognizes the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance to protect people against the risks of sickness, disability, maternity, employment injury, unemployment or old age. The article states that benefits from such a scheme must be adequate, accessible to all, and provided without discrimination. 

The past freezing of a pension results in that payment being inadequate in relation to present day values; discriminatory in that the reasons stated for differences are unclear, confused and outdated in the global world; and not accessible to all equally despite the fact that all equally contributed to the scheme for the provision of their state pensions.

  • Article 10 of the Covenant, which recognises the family as "the natural and fundamental group unit of society", and requires parties to accord it "the widest possible protection and assistance. Parties are required to ensure that their citizens are free to establish families.

The freezing of pensions at the point of leaving the UK prevents pensioners joining their families in other countries which are subject to the freezing policy; as a result it fails to protect and assist the development of the extended family unit, and family care for the elderly, as a natural and fundamental group in society.

Frozen pensions mean that the amount received can be as little as twenty-five per cent, or less, of today’s value of the state pension. This severely limits a pensioner’s access to adequate food, clothing, housing, and other life products and denies any improvement of living conditions.

  • Article 12 of the Covenant, which recognises the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States must protect this right by ensuring that everyone within their jurisdiction has access to the underlying determinants of health available to everyone without discrimination, and economically accessible to all.

The health service provision in many countries requires immigrants to pay for medical care, which is therefore denied to frozen pensioners who do not have sufficient income to be able to afford the necessary insurance to meet their increasing medical needs in old age. I am therefore writing to request the United Nations Economic and Social Council to investigate the clear breaches of compliance by the United Kingdom government and, assuming the Council’s findings to this effect, to require the UK government to correct this breach without delay.

It has been suggested to me that the United Nations will accept requests only from bodies at government level and that I should ask that the country of my residence should make this request. That would seriously inhibit the likelihood of any investigation and encourage the continuation of the breach of the Covenant, because there is ample evidence that the UK government uses incentives and threats – associated with aid programmes and inter-country trading – to prevent a poorer country from stepping out of line by raising a request of this nature.

Therefore, I hope that you will agree that this is an investigation that needs to be addressed by the Economic and Social Council.

I look forward to your response in due course.

I wonder what response I will get from United Nations, of which Britain is a member of the inner circle? You will be the first to know! Whistle ...... and here it is:

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights cannot examine individual communication alleging violations of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) unless the State party (in your case, the UK), has signed and ratified the Optional Protocol. The UK has not done so.

So, there you have it - the UN cannot investigate the UK Government's clear violation of the UN Social Protocol unless the UK Government agrees to have the case examined! It is like saying that the UN cannot intervene in Syria unless the Syrian government agrees to have air strikes directed at the country.

The law is an ass - the UN is a farce - and all paid for by taxpayers' money.