Justiciability of Economic and Social Rights

Experiences from Domestic Systems

Edited by: F. Coomans

International human rights law and many domestic legal systems provide for the protection of economic and social rights, such as the right to health, housing, food and labour-related rights. For many years the inferior status of economic and social rights, compared to civil and political rights, has had a negative impact on the possibilities to claim effective protection of these rights both at the international and domestic level. It is a matter of common knowledge that in practice it is difficult to denounce a violation of an economic or social right before a court of law. In other words, their justiciability is a matter of debate and dispute. Do economic and social rights only exist on paper as part of treaties and constitutions to which governments pay lip-service? Can they really mean something in practice for those who want to invoke these rights before the courts? How do courts reason in such cases? These are some of the questions that were discussed at a seminar organised by the Centre for Human Rights of Maastricht University in November 2005. The present book contains the revised papers that were presented at this meeting. Since the 1990s the justiciability of social and economic rights has drawn increasing interest. A reason for this is the progressive development of good practices and creative case law coming from a number of domestic systems. The most well-known examples are India and South Africa, but interesting case law can also be found in Colombia and the Philippines. The seminar aimed at taking stock of domestic developments. It brought together researchers from regions all over the world who were asked to discuss good practices of social and economic rights protection in their country, but also legal and non-legal obstacles that still hinder an effective enforcement of these rights at the domestic level. Fons Coomans is senior researcher at the Maastricht Centre for Human Rights.


452 pages

Publication Date: 7/25/2006
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9789050955829