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Making Social Rights Real: Implementation Strategies for Courts, Decision Makers and Civil Society

Given the disappointing implementation levels in various countries and across human rights systems, this guide seeks to contribute to the discussion regarding strategies for courts, international decision-makers, and civil society to increase the implementation of ESCR decisions.


For generations, human rights defenders have struggled to secure recognition of economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights) and ensure their justiciability in national, regional and international courts, a struggle that has been very successful. National courts around the world, including in Colombia, India, South Africa and Kenya, are expressing their views on ESC rights on a regular basis, and several countries have explicitly included the justiciability of ESC rights in their constitutions. Regional tribunals such as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights now consider petitions on ESCR. At the international level, in 2013, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights entered into force, allowing the Committee on Economic and Social Rights to hear individual complaints concerning violations of ESC rights.

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