Strategic litigation of economic and social rights: Expectations of compliance and impact
In conversation with Prof Malcolm Langford
Economic and social rights have a day to day importance that is often overlooked, despite reflecting the real issues effecting peoples’ lives. In the discussion with Prof Malcolm Langford (University of Oslo) we explore the interlink between globalisation and economic and social rights and the impact of growing income inequality. The focus moves to how Africa and African states are approaching such rights from a historical background to present day realities. The homegrown aspects to the problems – such as the elite control over resources – and the politics of social rights is highlighted and dissected.
How social and economic rights are approached is considered from legislative and constitutional perspectives. We discuss how SA has been considered a leader in the area, but there has been an increase in developments throughout other African countries undertaking policy experiments and legislative change. The importance of ensuring the progressive realisation idea into practice is demonstrated through analysis of the Scottish Homelessness Act. The ability to turn rights into a means through which to pressure governments to implement change is imperative for improving everyday conditions.
Litigation of economic and social rights within Africa has evolved over the past decades. We have cases across the continent addressing a variety of rights and have helped communities hold governments to account. There has also been constitutional reforms and the establishment and expansion of bills of rights to incorporate aspects of social rights within African states. Finally, through discussing the Treatment Action Campaign and Grootboom cases, Prof Langford explains realistic expectations of what strategic litigation may be able to achieve, the type of impact we have seen and the level of compliance, and what this actually means.
This conversation was recorded on Tuesday 14 May 2019.
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