SOCIO-ECONOMIC RIGHTS: PATHWAYS TO TRANSFORMATION?
Sandra Liebenberg, Distinguished Professor and H F Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law, Stellenbosch University, and Vice-Chair, United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Food, water, health care, housing, social security and education are fundamental to human life and thriving, yet they do not enjoy the status of fundamental human rights in many countries. Even under the United Nations human rights system, their practical protection has lagged behind civil and political rights. Socio-economic rights lie at the heart of the transformative mission of the South African Constitution and to redressing the legacies of colonialism and apartheid. However, despite their transformative potential, poverty and inequality remain deeply entrenched in South Africa. This course explores how ordinary citizens and social movements have used socio-economic rights to improve their material conditions and what role these rights could play in accelerating fundamental social change. It will consider landmark socio-economic rights judgments of the Constitutional Court, as well as other mechanisms for holding public and private actors accountable.
- The status of socio-economic rights internationally and in South Africa
- Advancing transformative social change: the potential and limits of socio-economic rights
Langa, P.N. 2011. “The Role of the Constitution in the Struggle Against Poverty” in Liebenberg, S. and Quinot G (eds) Law and Poverty: Perspectives from South Africa and Beyond. Cape Town: Juta & Co, pp. 4 – 9.
Wilson, S. and Dugard, J. 2011. “Taking Poverty Seriously: The South African Constitutional Court and Socio-Economic Rights” in Liebenberg, S. and Quinot G (eds) Law and Poverty: Perspectives from South Africa and Beyond. Cape Town: Juta & Co, pp. 222 - 240
Liebenberg, S 2019 “The Participatory Democratic Turn in South Africa’s Social Rights Jurisprudence” in Young, K.G. (ed) The Future of Economic and Social Rights. Cambridge University Press
United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Concluding Observations on the Initial Report of South Africa, UN doc. E/C.12/ZAF/CO/1 (29 November 2018)