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.
Some Introductory Remarks on the Justiciability of Economic and Social Rights in a Comparative Constitutional Context (p. 1)
The Protection of Socio-Economic Rights as Human Rights in Denmark (p. 17)
The Netherlands and the ICESCR: Why Didst Thou Promise such a Beauteous Day? (p. 43)
The Protection of Social Rights in the Spanish Constitutional System (p. 67)
A Case for Enforceable Constitutional Rights? Welfare Rights in Hungarian Constitutional Jurisprudence (p. 97)
The Role of Courts in the Domestic Protection of Socio-Economic Rights: the Unwritten Constitution of the UK (p. 129)
Methods of Protection of Social and Economic Rights in Canada (p. 173)
Socio-Economic Rights and Courts in South Africa: Justiciability on a Sliding Scale (p. 207)
Judicial Enforcement of Economic and Social Rights: the Indian Scenario (p. 237)
Mechanisms and Avenues for Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Implementation of ESC Rights: the Philippine Experience (p. 269)
Socio-Economic Rights before the Courts in Argentina (p. 309)
Should Courts Enforce Social Rights? The Experience of the Colombian Constitutional Court (p. 355)
The Justiciability of Social Rights in the European Union (p. 389)
Annex: Selection of Constitutional Provisions on Economic and Social Rights (p. 409)
The Maastricht Series in Human Rights facilitates and supports research in the field of human rights at the Maastricht Centre for Human Rights of Maastricht University’s Faculty of Law. The research is interdisciplinary, with a focus on public international law, criminal law and social sciences.
Volume in the series have been peer reviewed under the responsibility of the Board of the Centre. The Series is published under the editorial supervision of Professor Menno Kamminga and Professor Fons Coomans.
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