The 21 case studies discussed in this volume clearly illustrate that a wide variety of economic, social and cultural rights are justiciable. Moreover, this publication set out many concrete examples where legal action has made a difference and has unquestionably progressed the actual realisation of the rights.
Litigating Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Achievements, Challenges and Strategies also reveals the many practical and theoretical obstacles that have been encountered in social action litgation.
The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Optional Protocol or OP-ICESCR) entered into force on 5 May 2013. With the Optional Protocol, the international community comes much closer to treating “human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis” as required by the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights. In particular, the OP-ICESCR creates a mechanism whereby rights holders can submit complaints of violations of any of their economic, social and cultural rights and hold States accountable to their obligations under the Covenant to respect, protect, and fulfill Covenant rights, including the human rights to education. This procedure will also provide further clarity on the content of human rights in different contexts, resulting in greater guidance for governments that seek to implement the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in good faith.
The objective of this manual is to provide theoretical and practical information for lawyers and other advocates interested in utilizing the OP-ICESCR as a means to enforce economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to eduxcation. A related aim of this manual is to contribute to the growing network of advocates using strategic litigation to advance ESC rights protections, by supporting ongoing exchange and collaboration.
This publication includes an overview of key right to education decisions made by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and the UN Human Rights Committee. They are judgments that have taken place in these courts from 1988 to 2014 and deal with the fulfilment of the right to education for various groups, such as people with disabilities, migrants, persons deprived of liberty and Indigenous Peoples.
The Summaries of Jurisprudence series has been published since 2010. This recent publication is available for download via the following websites (in both Spanish and English):
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.
Vidéo d'animation créée par ESCR-Net pour promouvoir la ratification du Protocole facultatif à la Convention internationale sur les droits économiques, sociaux et culturels.
La vidéo, qui est de trois minutes, parle d'une fille de douze ans nommée Lucy qui doit se battre pour son droit à l'éducation lorsque son école est fermée en raison d'un manque de fonds publics. En fin de compte, Lucy prouve que l'accès à la justice est la clé de la pleine jouissance des droits de l'homme, y compris le droit à l'éducation.
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.
Part I provides an analysis of the various legal issues commonly encountered in economic, social and cultural rights litigation. These include identifying the relevant sources of law, establishing justiciability, defining the nature and scope of rights and obligations, responding to the defences available to governments, and the crafting of appropriate remedies. The next chapters address the right to legal aid for economic, social and cultural rights litigation, specific rights (social security, housing, health and education), as well as the social rights of children. This will provide the user of the manual with a sense of how the application and interpretation of economic, social and cultural rights may vary depending on the group claiming the right and the particular right at issue.
In Parts II and III, the various regional and international complaints procedures are outlined. For each human rights mechanism, there is a description of the relevant legal instruments, the applicable economic, social and cultural rights standards and the responsible adjudicatory body. The procedure for making a complaint is set out in detail, together with the limitations of the various procedure. Each chapter concludes with a brief analysis of the jurisprudence of judicial or quasi-judicial bodies and a list of useful resources. The remainder of the manual seeks to provide the user with a range of practical resources for litigation.
Part IV sets out summaries of leading cases on economic, social and cultural rights,
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.