short time after the Covenant’s entry into force for the States concerned. The steps should
include “all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures”. In
addition to legislation, the Committee understands the term “appropriate means” to include the
provision of judicial or other remedies, where appropriate, as well as “administrative, financial,
educational and social measures” (General Comment No. 3, para. 7; General Comment No. 9,
paras. 3-5, 7).
The “availability of resources”, although an important qualifier to the obligation to take
steps, does not alter the immediacy of the obligation, nor can resource constraints alone justify
inaction. Where the available resources are demonstrably inadequate, the obligation remains for
a State party to ensure the widest possible enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights
under the prevailing circumstances. The Committee has already emphasized that, even in times
of severe resource constraints, States parties must protect the most disadvantaged and
marginalized members or groups of society by adopting relatively low-cost targeted
The undertaking by a State party to use “the maximum” of its available resources towards
fully realizing the provisions of the Covenant entitles it to receive resources offered by the
international community. In this regard, the phrase “to the maximum of its available resources"
refers to both the resources existing within a State as well as those available from the
international community through international cooperation and assistance.
As regards the core obligations of States parties in relation to each of the Covenant rights,
General Comment No. 3 states that, in order for a State party to be able to attribute its failure to
meet its core obligations to a lack of available resources, it must demonstrate that every effort
has been made to use all resources that are at its disposal in an effort to satisfy, as a matter of
priority, those core obligations.
Apart from the obligation to take steps (art. 2, para. 1), States parties have an immediate
obligation to “guarantee that the rights enunciated in the Covenant will be exercised without
discrimination of any kind” (art. 2, para. 2). This obligation frequently requires the adoption and
implementation of appropriate legislation and does not necessarily require significant resource
allocations. Similarly, the obligation to respect requires States to refrain from interfering directly
or indirectly with the enjoyment of Covenant rights and does not necessarily require significant
State involvement. For example, the right of women to an equal salary for equal work should be
implemented immediately. The obligation to protect and, to a greater extent, the obligation to
fulfil, on the other hand, often require positive budgetary measures in order to prevent third
parties from interfering with the rights recognized in the Covenant (obligation to protect) or to
facilitate, provide and promote the enjoyment of these rights (obligation to fulfil).
In considering a communication concerning an alleged failure of a State party to take
steps to the maximum of available resources, the Committee will examine the measures that the
State party has effectively taken, legislative or otherwise. In assessing whether they are
“adequate” or “reasonable”, the Committee may take into account, inter alia, the following
The extent to which the measures taken were deliberate, concrete and targeted
towards the fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights;