Social and Economic Rights in Theory and Practice: Critical Inquiries, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Social and Economic Rights in Theory and Practice

Critical Inquiries, 1st Edition

Edited by Helena Alviar García, Karl Klare, Lucy A. Williams


328 pages

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Since World War II, a growing number of jurisdictions in both the developing and industrialized worlds have adopted progressive constitutions that guarantee social and economic rights (SER) in addition to political and civil rights. Parallel developments have occurred at transnational level with the adoption of treaties that commit signatory states to respect and fulfil SER for their peoples.

This book is a product of the International Social and Economic Rights Project (iSERP), a global consortium of judges, lawyers, human rights advocates, and legal academics who critically examine the effectiveness of SER law in promoting real change in people’s lives. The book addresses a range of practical, political, and legal questions under these headings, with acute sensitivity to the racial, cultural, and gender implications of SER and the path-breaking SER jurisprudence now emerging in the "Global South".

The book brings together internationally renowned experts in the field of social and economic rights to discuss a range of rights controversies from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Contributors of the book consider specific issues in the litigation and adjudication of SER cases from the differing standpoints of activists, lawyers, and adjudicators in order to identify and address the specific challenges facing the SER community.

This book will be of great use and interest to students and scholars of comparative constitutional law, human rights, public international law, development studies, and democratic political theory.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Perspectives 1. Critical Perspectives on Social and Economic Rights, Democracy and Separation of Powers, Karl Klare 2. Rights-Compromised or Rights-Savvy? The Use of Rights-Based Strategies to Advance Socio-Economic Struggles by Abahlali baseMjondolo, the South African Shack-Dwellers’ Movement, Jackie Dugard, Tshepo Madlingozi and Kate Tissington 3. Resource Questions in Social and Economic Rights Enforcement: A Preliminary View, Lucy A. Williams Part 2: Global Social and Economic Rights Practice: Limitations and Openings Part 2a: Latin America 4. Distribution of Resources Led by Courts: A Few Words of Caution, Helena Alviar García 5. Latin America Social Constitutionalism: Courts and Popular Participation, Natalia Angel-Cabo and Domingo Lovera Parmo 6. Deliberative Democracy, Dialogic Justice and the Promise of Social and Economic Rights, Roberto Gargarella 7. Between Activism and Deference: Social Rights Adjudication in the Brazilian Supreme Federal Tribunal, Octavio Luiz Motta Ferraz Part 2b: India 8. The Tension Between Property Rights and Social and Economic Rights: A Case Study of India, Namita Wahi 9. Claiming the Right to Safe Motherhood Through Litigation: The Indian Story, Sukti Dhital and Jayshree Satpute Part 2c: South Africa 10. Democratising the Socio-Economic Rights-Enforcement Process, Lilian Chenwi 11. The Scope of the Judicial Role in the Enforcement of Social and Economic Rights: Limits and Possibilities Viewed From the South African Experience, Dennis M. Davis Part 2d: Canada 12. Inclusive Interpretations: Social and Economic Rights and the Canadian Charter, Bruce Porter Part 3: Looking Forward 13. Adjudicating Social and Economic Rights: Can Democratic Experimentalism Help?, Sandra Liebenberg and Katharine G. Young 14. The Constitutionalisation of Social and Economic Rights, Colm O’Cinneide 15. Constitutionally Binding Social and Economic Rights As a Compelling Idea: Reciprocating Perturbations in Liberal and Democratic Constitutional Visions, Frank I. Michelman

About the Editors


Helena Alviar García is Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia.

Karl Klare is the George J. & Kathleen Waters Matthews Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, USA. He was one of the founders of the Critical Legal Studies movement.

Lucy A. Williams is Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, USA. She is a co-director of the Project on Human Rights and the Global Economy at Northeastern University School of Law and is the convener of iSERP.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Human Rights Law

This series contains thought-provoking and original scholarship on human rights law. The books address civil and political rights as well as social, cultural and economic rights, and explore international, regional and domestic legal orders. The legal status, content, obligations and application of specific rights will be analysed as well as treaties, mechanisms and institutions designed to promote and protect rights.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / International
LAW / Judicial Power