The following articles relevant to the justiciability of the right to education can be found in this INTERIGHTS Bulletin:

  • Diokno, MSI (2007) Short-changing the Right to Education in the Philippines,
  • Ribeiro, RM (2007) Securing the Right to Education in Brazil: A Brief Overview of the Role of the Courts
  • Courtis, C (2007) The Right to Education in the Jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
  • Cojocariu, C (2007) Racial Discrimination against Roma Children in Schools: Recent Developments from Courts in Bulgaria and Hungary

The following article is relevant to the right to education of minorities:

  • de Varennes, F (2007) Language Rights in Education

South Africa is in the unique posi­tion of hav­ing the right to edu­ca­tion guar­an­teed in the Con­sti­tu­tion. The law has been used to advance this right by trans­lat­ing what is on paper into a real­ity for thou­sands of learn­ers across the coun­try. The LRC and part­ners have been at the fore­front of civil soci­ety efforts in achiev­ing this. We wanted to share our suc­cesses.

In Octo­ber 2013, the Legal Resources Cen­tre was proud to launch Ready to Learn? A Legal Resource for Real­is­ing the Right to Edu­ca­tion at the Open Soci­ety Foun­da­tions in New York (find the press release here). The book was designed for legal prac­ti­tion­ers and shares the LRC’s legal efforts to con­tribute to real­is­ing the right to edu­ca­tion in South Africa. Ready to Learn?

Fight­ing to Learn… A Legal Resource for Real­is­ing the Right to Edu­ca­tion is the fol­low on from Ready to Learn? Using the same for­mat as the first pub­li­ca­tion,Fight­ing to Learn… gives an update on many of the cases rep­re­sented in Ready to Learn? and pro­vides a more gen­eral reflec­tion on the role of edu­ca­tion in the devel­op­ment agenda.

In Fight­ing to Learn…, prac­ti­tion­ers of law in other juris­dic­tions can access a sum­mary and court papers relat­ing to the pro­vi­sion of class­room fur­ni­ture, access to learner-support mate­r­ial and the pay­ment and appoint­ment of teach­ers. It also gives follow-up mate­ri­als for the “mud schools” mat­ter and norms and stan­dards for edu­ca­tion.

It demon­strates how the Con­sti­tu­tional right to edu­ca­tion was inte­gral to our fight for a qual­ity edu­ca­tion that is acces­si­ble to all. It also demon­strates the cre­ativ­ity of LRC lawyers in their work, from using class actions, which is new in South Africa, to our increas­ing use of inno­v­a­tive reme­dies, such as using exter­nal admin­is­tra­tors to imple­ment court judg­ments.

 

Part of a law which allowed the Colombian government to charge for primary education was deemed unconstitutional after a pair of Colombian lawyers, collaborating with the law faculty at New York’s Cornell University and a coalition of civil society organisations, brought a direct challenge against its discriminatory provisions.

An animated video created by ESCR-Net to promote the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The video, which is three minutes long, is about a twelve-year-old girl named Lucy who has to fight for her right to education when her school is closed due to a lack of public funds. Ultimately, Lucy proves that access to justice is key to the full enjoyment of human rights.

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The Guide identifies equality and non-discrimination strategies that NGOs, lawyers and activists may employ in seeking to advance economic and social rights (ESRs) before courts. It is also accompanied by an online Compendium of useful cases in which equality and non-discrimination concepts and approaches have been employed to advance ESRs.

The Guide is split into three parts. Having introduced the rights framework, the Guide identifies conceptual and practical reasons why equality and non-discrimination arguments should be employed when challenging violations of ESRs. It then presents clear and practical guidance on how to use equality and non-discrimination strategies in courtrooms around the world.

The adoption of the OP-ICESCR is only a beginning and that the real challenges lay ahead. 

This Commentary is intended to benefit claimants and their advocates and to provide a broader resource for states and the Committee – providing a deeper jurisprudential base on the range of issues likely to be raised. In so doing, the Commentary charts in effect both the legal opportunities but also the limitations.

This guide, issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), focuses on how civil society can follow up on recommendations of United Nations (UN) human rights mechanisms and mandates or bodies.

In this report, the Special Rapporteur argues that treating economic and social rights as human rights is essential both for efforts to eliminate extreme poverty and to ensure a balanced and credible approach in the field of human rights as a whole. He argues that economic and social rights currently remain marginal in most contexts, thus undermining the principle of the indivisibility of the two sets of rights.

Conventional wisdom celebrates the great strides that have been made in recent years in relation to economic and social rights. At the international level, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has been adopted, an impressive number of special procedures have been created to focus on these rights and bodies like the Human Rights Council spend much more time than they once did debating these issues. At the national level, economic and social rights proponents celebrate the impressive degree of constitutional recognition of some or most economic and social rights, the growing capacity of courts in many countries to enforce them, the growth of national non-governmental organisations working on economic and social rights and the emergence of a vibrant scholarly literature on the justiciability of those rights.

However, despite important recent progress, the reality is that economic and social rights remain largely invisible in the law and institutions of the great majority of States. In support of this proposition, the Special Rapporteur notes that: many of the States whose Constitutions recognise economic and social rights have not translated that recognition into a human rights-based legislative framework; the increasingly widespread constitutional acceptance of the justiciability of economic and social rights contrasts with the resistance of many of the relevant courts to acting on these rights; many of the States that enjoy the world’s highest living standards have specifically rejected proposals to recognise economic and social rights in legislative or constitutional form; most national-level institutional mechanisms for promoting human rights neglect economic and social rights; and national economic and social rights accountability mechanisms are generally much rarer than mainstream accounts would suggest.

The extent to which economic and social rights remain unacknowledged as human rights is the frequency with which debates about economic and social rights slide imperceptibly and almost naturally into broad discussions of development. But, in fact, development initiatives might not be rights-promoting, or even rights-protecting. In this report, the Special Rapporteur spells out why it matters that economic and social rights be treated as human rights and examines the ways in which this can be done by outlining the recognition, institutionalisation and accountability (RIA) framework that focuses primary attention on ensuring recognition of the rights, institutional support for their promotion and accountability mechanisms for their implementation.

The Strategic Litigation Working Group (SLWG) has launched a discussion paper with eight key proposals regarding the follow-up on views issued by United Nations human rights treaty bodies (UNTBs). ESCR-Net’s SLWG recognises the significance of decisions issued by UNTBs under the complaints procedures (Views) in the advancement of human rights enjoyment by people around the world, and welcomes the past action and willingness of the UNTBs to continue developing constructive practices regarding the impact and implementation of such Views.

Three principles underpin the SLWG’s proposals: the principle of non-repetition (consistently applied by the HRC in its views and by the CESCR in its General Comments); the principle of reasonableness (developed by the CESCR through its General Comments and 2007 Statement on Maximum Availability of Resources, and made explicit in the OP-ICESCR); and the principle of participation (recognised under a number of UN human rights treaties). Taking into account the practice of different international and regional human rights bodies, the SLWG proposes that the three principles should be applied during the consideration of a case, follow up and implementation, in order to maximise the effectiveness of human rights remedies.

While many authorities can tolerate some traditional campaigning methods, it is usually harder to ignore the law. As part of broader campaigns, the law can be a powerful tool for achieving the changes that children need. Legal advocacy is now being used systematically in a few countries – leading to strong outcomes for children – and it has great potential for wider use.

There are many occasions for legal advocacy. International law sets out the principles and standards that states are obliged to meet but frequently do not, and so their domestic law violates children’s rights. Often, a state meets a standard in domestic legislation but its policy fails to implement the law. Sometimes, it is unclear what a law means in practice, or the meaning is clear but no one knows whether it is being implemented. These various gaps between international legal standards, domestic law and state policy (or corporate policy) present potential opportunities for legal advocacy.

There are also many avenues for legal advocacy. It is a broad term, not limited to taking rights violators to court. Many small-scale legal activities can enhance traditional campaigning, such as reporting on the implementation of a law, or raising awareness of what the law says. Sometimes, simply documenting and publicising the gaps between law and practice is enough to persuade decision-makers to act. But only sometimes. Towards the other end of the spectrum is work that demands more time and resources, including taking a government or corporation to court in order to bring broader social change. A successful case might improve the legal standards that apply to children, or lead to a major policy change of long-term benefit to children.

This introductory guide offers a brief overview of avenues for legal advocacy. It also offers guidance on how to explore your options, and how to promote legal advocacy work with other children’s rights advocates.

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