The latest report from United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner more or less confirms what critics of the German laws, regulations and practices claim for some years now.

Critics claim that employment regulations, precarious employment, social security, minimum wage and especially the sanctions possible under that regime are in violation of basic human rights, in Germany especially violating article one of the basic law ((1) Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.)

The UNHROHC report by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 12. Oct 2018 speaks of "observations", "concerns", "repeated concerns" etc. The report also just "recommends […] that the state party ensures". These recommendations are for access to health services, housing, electricity, acceptable work, mobility, nutrition of children, care for the elderly etc.

Since the basic agreements on this seem to be ratified by Germany as early as 1976 I keep wondering what that weak language adopted in the report really means. The observations and concerns mentioned in the report are for the smaller part compatible with current German politics, which seems to really try and sometimes just fail or fall a bit short.

For example people with disabilities in the workforce find an improved situation [Martin Kock: "Disability Law in Germany: An Overview of Employment, Education and Access Rights", GERMAN LAW JOURNAL Vol.05 No.11, 2004. (PDF)].

Conversely, many politicians openly take pride in introducing and enforcing precarious employment, hinder the introduction of minimum wages or calling for even more sanctions for unemployed or even up to forced labour. (Most famously chancellor Schröder said at Davos: "Third, we must liberalize our labour market – and we have already done a great deal in this respect. We have established one of the best low paying sectors in Europe.")

What are the options from the UN side: Are there any direct or indirect means to communicate more effectively their observations or even to enforce these recommendations?

  • 1
    The linked document seems to be an unedited draft from a committee. By their very nature, observations and recommendations are not intended to be enforced. Nov 6, 2018 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


No, the UN cannot enforce the recommendations of the the UN Human Rights Council, and is unlikely to influence the nations of western Europe.

In evidence: take note that

The UN Human Rights Council's main 2018 session concluded on Friday, March 23rd, with 1 resolution on North Korea, 1 on Iran, 2 on Syria, and 5 on Israel.

(where said resolutions are condemnations of the behaviour of these nations.)

If the UN could enforce the recommendations of the the UN Human Rights Council, it seems very likely that there would be such enforcement actions ongoing against Israel today.

This is, of course, speculative on my part, as befits the question, but I think it is generally well-supported by the evidence.

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    Mind you, the targeting of Israel is the chief reason why the UN is actively disallowed from enforcing these recommendations. The obvious bias makes the UN's behavior unacceptable to the USA, which holds a veto power.
    – MSalters
    Nov 6, 2018 at 15:43
  • @MSalters that assumes there is bias, and that Israel isn’t just doing terrible stuff. Sep 19, 2021 at 23:25

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