Protocol of San Salvador

Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights "Protocol of San Salvador"


 The States Parties to the American Convention on Human Rights "Pact San José, Costa Rica," 

Reaffirming their intention to consolidate in this hemisphere, within the framework of democratic institutions, a system of personal liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential rights of man; 

Recognizing that the essential rights of man are not derived from one's being a national of a certain State, but are based upon attributes of the human person, for which reason they merit international protection in the form of a convention reinforcing or complementing the protection provided by the domestic law of the American States; 

Considering the close relationship that exists between economic, social and cultural rights, and civil and political rights, in that the different categories of rights constitute an indivisible whole based on the recognition of the dignity of the human person, for which reason both require permanent protection and promotion if they are to be fully realized, and the violation of some rights in favor of the realization of others can never be justified; 

Recognizing the benefits that stem from the promotion and development of cooperation among States and international relations; 

Recalling that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his economic, social and cultural rights as well as his civil and political rights; 

Bearing in mind that, although fundamental economic, social and cultural rights have been recognized in earlier international instruments of both world and regional scope, it is essential that those rights be reaffirmed, developed, perfected and protected in order to consolidate in America, on the basis of full respect for the rights of the individual, the democratic representative form of government as well as the right of its peoples to development, self‑determination, and the free disposal of their wealth and natural resources; and 

Considering that the American Convention on Human Rights provides that draft additional protocols to that Convention may be submitted for consideration to the States Parties, meeting together on the occasion of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, for the purpose of gradually incorporating other rights and freedoms into the protective system thereof, 

Have agreed upon the following Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights "Protocol of San Salvador": 

Article 1

Obligation to Adopt Measures 

The States Parties to this Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights undertake to adopt the necessary measures, both domestically and through international cooperation, especially economic and technical, to the extent allowed by their available resources, and taking into account their degree of development, for the purpose of achieving progressively and pursuant to their internal legislations, the full observance of the rights recognized in this Protocol. 

Article 2

Obligation to Enact Domestic Legislation 

If the exercise of the rights set forth in this Protocol is not already guaranteed by legislative or other provisions, the States Parties undertake to adopt, in accordance with their constitutional processes and the provisions of this Protocol, such legislative or other measures as may be necessary for making those rights a reality. 

Article 3

Obligation of nondiscrimination 

The State Parties to this Protocol undertake to guarantee the exercise of the rights set forth herein without discrimination of any kind for reasons related to race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, economic status, birth or any other social condition. 

Article 4

Inadmissibility of Restrictions 

A right which is recognized or in effect in a State by virtue of its internal legislation or international conventions may not be restricted or curtailed on the pretext that this Protocol does not recognize the right or recognizes it to a lesser degree. 

Article 5

Scope of Restrictions and Limitations 

The State Parties may establish restrictions and limitations on the enjoyment and exercise of the rights established herein by means of laws promulgated for the purpose of preserving the general welfare in a democratic society only to the extent that they are not incompatible with the purpose and reason underlying those rights. 

Article 6

Right to Work 

1.       Everyone has the right to work, which includes the opportunity to secure the means for living a dignified and decent existence by performing a freely elected or accepted lawful activity. 

2.       The State Parties undertake to adopt measures that will make the right to work fully effective, especially with regard to the achievement of full employment, vocational guidance, and the development of technical and vocational training projects, in particular those directed to the disabled.  The States Parties also undertake to implement and strengthen programs that help to ensure suitable family care, so that women may enjoy a real opportunity to exercise the right to work. 

Article 7

Just, Equitable, and Satisfactory Conditions of Work 

The States Parties to this Protocol recognize that the right to work to which the foregoing article refers presupposes that everyone shall enjoy that right under just, equitable, and satisfactory conditions, which the States Parties undertake to guarantee in their internal legislation, particularly with respect to: 

a.       Remuneration which guarantees, as a minimum, to all workers dignified and decent living conditions for them and their families and fair and equal wages for equal work, without distinction; 

b.       The right of every worker to follow his vocation and to devote himself to the activity that best fulfills his expectations and to change employment in accordance with the pertinent national regulations; 

c.       The right of every worker to promotion or upward mobility in his employment, for which purpose account shall be taken of his qualifications, competence, integrity and seniority; 

d.       Stability of employment, subject to the nature of each industry and occupation and the causes for just separation.  In cases of unjustified dismissal, the worker shall have the right to indemnity or to reinstatement on the job or any other benefits provided by domestic legislation; 

e.       Safety and hygiene at work; 

f.       The prohibition of night work or unhealthy or dangerous working conditions and, in general, of all work which jeopardizes health, safety, or morals, for persons under 18 years of age.  As regards minors under the age of 16, the work day shall be subordinated to the provisions  regarding  compulsory education and  in no case shall work constitute an impediment to school attendance or a limitation on benefiting from education received; 

g.       A reasonable limitation of working hours, both daily and weekly.  The days shall be shorter in the case of dangerous or unhealthy work or of night work; 

h.       Rest, leisure and paid vacations as well as remuneration for national holidays. 

Article 8

Trade Union Rights 

1.       The States Parties shall ensure: 

a.       The right of workers to organize trade unions and to join the union of their choice for the purpose of protecting and promoting their interests.  As an extension of that right, the States Parties shall permit trade unions to establish national federations or confederations, or to affiliate with those that already exist, as well as to form international trade union organizations and to affiliate with that of their choice.  The States Parties shall also permit trade unions, federations and confederations to function freely; 

b.       The right to strike. 

2.       The exercise of the rights set forth above may be subject only to restrictions established by law, provided that such restrictions are characteristic of a democratic society and necessary for safeguarding public order or for protecting public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others.  Members of the armed forces and the police and of other essential public services shall be subject to limitations and restrictions established by law. 

3.       No one may be compelled to belong to a trade union. 

Article 9

Right to Social Security 

1.       Everyone shall have the right to social security protecting him from the consequences of old age and of disability which prevents him, physically or mentally, from securing the means for a dignified and decent existence.  In the event of the death of a beneficiary, social security benefits shall be applied to his dependents. 

2.       In the case of persons who are employed, the right to social security shall cover at least medical care and an allowance or retirement benefit in the case of work accidents or occupational disease and, in the case of women, paid maternity leave before and after childbirth. 

Article 10

Right to Health 

1.       Everyone shall have the right to health, understood to mean the enjoyment of the highest level of physical, mental and social well-being. 

2.       In order to ensure the exercise of the right to health, the States Parties agree to recognize health as a public good and, particularly, to adopt the following measures to ensure that right: 

a.       Primary health care, that is, essential health care made available to all individuals and families in the community; 

b.       Extension of the benefits of health services to all individuals subject to the State's jurisdiction; 

c.       Universal immunization against the principal infectious diseases; 

d.       Prevention and treatment of endemic, occupational and other diseases; 

e.       Education of the population on the prevention and treatment of health problems, and 

f.       Satisfaction of the health needs of the highest risk groups and of those whose poverty makes them the most vulnerable. 

Article 11

Right to a Healthy Environment 

1.       Everyone shall have the right to live in a healthy environment and to have access to basic public services. 

2.       The States Parties shall promote the protection, preservation, and improvement of the environment. 

Article 12

Right to Food 

1.       Everyone has the right to adequate nutrition which guarantees the possibility of enjoying the highest level of physical, emotional and intellectual development. 

2.       In order to promote the exercise of this right and eradicate malnutrition, the States Parties undertake to improve methods of production, supply and distribution of food, and to this end, agree to promote greater international cooperation in support of the relevant national policies. 

Article 13

Right to Education 

1.       Everyone has the right to education. 

2.       The States Parties to this Protocol agree that education should be directed towards the full development of the human personality and human dignity and should strengthen respect for human rights, ideological pluralism, fundamental freedoms, justice and peace.  They further agree that education ought to enable everyone to participate effectively in a democratic and pluralistic society and achieve a decent existence and should foster understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups and promote activities for the maintenance of peace. 

3.       The States Parties to this Protocol recognize that in order to achieve the full exercise of the right to education: 

a.       Primary education should be compulsory and accessible to all without cost; 

b.       Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, should be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education;

c.       Higher education should be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of individual capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education; 

d.       Basic education should be encouraged or intensified as far as possible for those persons who have not received or completed the whole cycle of primary instruction; 

e.       Programs of special education should be established for the handicapped, so as to provide special instruction and training to persons with physical disabilities or mental deficiencies. 

4.       In conformity with the domestic legislation of the States Parties, parents should have the right to select the type of education to be given to their children, provided that it conforms to the principles set forth above. 

5.       Nothing in this Protocol shall be interpreted as a restriction of the freedom of individuals and entities to establish and direct educational institutions in accordance with the domestic legislation of the States Parties. 

Article 14

Right to the Benefits of Culture 

1.       The States Parties to this Protocol recognize the right of everyone: 

a.       To take part in the cultural and artistic life of the community; 

b.       To enjoy the benefits of scientific and technological progress; 

c.       To benefit from the protection of moral and material interests deriving from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author. 

2.       The steps to be taken by the States Parties to this Protocol to ensure the full exercise of this right shall include those necessary for the conservation, development and dissemination of science, culture and art. 

3.       The States Parties to this Protocol undertake to respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity. 

4.       The States Parties to this Protocol recognize the benefits to be derived from the encouragement and development of international cooperation and relations in the fields of science, arts and culture, and accordingly agree to foster greater international cooperation in these fields. 

Article 15

Right to the Formation and the Protection of Families 

1.       The family is the natural and fundamental element of society and ought to be protected by the State, which should see to the improvement of its spiritual and material conditions. 

2.       Everyone has the right to form a family, which shall be exercised in accordance with the provisions of the pertinent domestic legislation. 

3.       The States Parties hereby undertake to accord adequate protection to the family unit and in particular: 

a.       To provide special care and assistance to mothers during a reasonable period before and after childbirth; 

b.       To guarantee adequate nutrition for children at the nursing stage and during school attendance years; 

c.       To adopt special measures for the protection of adolescents in order to ensure the full development of their physical, intellectual and moral capacities; 

d.       To undertake special programs of family training so as to help create a stable and positive environment in which children will receive and develop the values of understanding, solidarity, respect and responsibility. 

Article 16

Rights of Children 

Every child, whatever his parentage, has the right to the protection that his status as a minor requires from his family, society and the State.   Every child has the right to grow under the protection and responsibility of his parents; save in exceptional, judicially‑recognized circumstances, a child of young age ought not to be separated from his mother.  Every child has the right to free and compulsory education, at least in the elementary phase, and to continue his training at higher levels of the educational system. 

Article 17

Protection of the Elderly 

Everyone has the right to special protection in old age.  With this in view the States Parties agree to take progressively the necessary steps to make this right a reality and, particularly, to: 

a.       Provide suitable facilities, as well as food and specialized medical care, for elderly individuals who lack them and are unable to provide them for themselves; 

b.       Undertake work programs specifically designed to give the elderly the opportunity to engage in a productive activity suited to their abilities and consistent with their vocations or desires; 

c.       Foster the establishment of social organizations aimed at improving the quality of life for the elderly. 

Article 18

Protection of the Handicapped 

Everyone affected by a diminution of his physical or mental capacities is entitled to receive special attention designed to help him achieve the greatest possible development of his personality.  The States Parties agree to adopt such measures as may be necessary for this purpose and, especially, to: 

a.       Undertake programs specifically aimed at providing the handicapped with the resources and environment needed for attaining this goal, including work programs consistent with their possibilities and freely accepted by them or their legal representatives, as the case may be; 

b.       Provide special training to the families of the handicapped in order to help them solve the problems of coexistence and convert them into active agents in the physical, mental and emotional development of the latter; 

c.       Include the consideration of solutions to specific requirements arising from needs of this group as a priority component of their urban development plans; 

d.       Encourage the establishment of social groups in which the handicapped can be helped to enjoy a fuller life. 

Article 19

Means of Protection 

1.       Pursuant to the provisions of this article and the corresponding rules to be formulated for this purpose by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, the States Parties to this Protocol undertake to submit periodic reports on the progressive measures they have taken to ensure due respect for the rights set forth in this Protocol. 

2.       All reports shall be submitted to the Secretary General of the OAS, who shall transmit them to the Inter‑American Economic and Social Council and the Inter‑American Council for Education, Science and Culture so that they may examine them in accordance with the provisions of this article.  The Secretary General shall send a copy of such reports to the Inter‑American Commission on Human Rights. 

3.       The Secretary General of the Organization of American States shall also transmit to the specialized organizations of the inter‑American system of which the States Parties to the present Protocol are members, copies or pertinent portions of the reports submitted, insofar as they relate to matters within the purview of those organizations, as established by their constituent instruments. 

4.       The specialized organizations of the inter-American system may submit reports to the Inter‑American Economic and Social Council and the Inter-American Council for Education, Science and Culture relative to compliance with the provisions of the present Protocol in their fields of activity. 

5.       The annual reports submitted to the General Assembly by the Inter-American Economic and Social Council and the Inter-American Council for Education, Science and Culture shall contain a summary of the information received from the States Parties to the present Protocol and the specialized organizations concerning the progressive measures adopted in order to ensure respect for the rights acknowledged in the Protocol itself and the general recommendations they consider to be appropriate in this respect. 

6.       Any instance in which the rights established in paragraph a) of Article 8 and in Article 13 are violated by action directly attributable to a State Party to this Protocol may give rise, through participation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and, when applicable, of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, to application of the system of individual petitions governed by Article 44 through 51 and 61 through 69 of the American Convention on Human Rights. 

7.       Without prejudice to the provisions of the preceding paragraph, the Inter‑American Commission on Human Rights may formulate such observations and recommendations as it deems pertinent concerning the status of the economic, social and cultural rights established in the present Protocol in all or some of the States Parties, which it may include in its Annual Report to the General Assembly or in a special report, whichever it considers more appropriate. 

8.       The Councils and the Inter‑American Commission on Human Rights, in discharging the functions conferred upon them in this article, shall take into account the progressive nature of the observance of the rights subject to protection by this Protocol. 

Article 20


The States Parties may, at the time of approval, signature, ratification or accession, make reservations to one or more specific provisions of this Protocol, provided that such reservations are not incompatible with the object and purpose of the Protocol. 

Article 21 

Signature, Ratification or Accession.  Entry into Effect 

1.       This Protocol shall remain open to signature and ratification or accession by any State Party to the American Convention on Human Rights.

 2.       Ratification of or accession to this Protocol shall be effected by depositing an instrument of ratification or accession with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States. 

3.       The Protocol shall enter into effect when eleven States have deposited their respective instruments of ratification or accession. 

4.       The Secretary General shall notify all the member states of the Organization of American States of the entry of the Protocol into effect. 

Article 22

Inclusion of other Rights and Expansion of those Recognized 

1.       Any State Party and the Inter‑American Commission on Human Rights may submit for the consideration of the States Parties meeting on the occasion of the General Assembly proposed amendments to include the recognition of other rights or freedoms or to extend or expand rights or freedoms recognized in this Protocol. 

2.       Such amendments shall enter into effect for the States that ratify them on the date of deposit of the instrument of ratification corresponding to the number representing two thirds of the States Parties to this Protocol.  For all other States Parties they shall enter into effect on the date on which they deposit their respective instrument of ratification.

(Adopted at San Salvador, El Salvador on November 17, 1988, at
the eighteenth regular session of the General Assembly)