Social and Economic Rights in Theory and Practice: Critical Inquiries

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Helena Alviar García, Karl E. Klare, Lucy A. Williams
Routledge, 2014 - LAW - 327 pages

Since World War II and particularly during the past 25 years, several nations have adopted "advanced constitutions" containing guarantees of social and economic rights (SER) as well as the more familiar political and civil rights. Many of the nations leading this trend are located in the developing world suggesting the emergence of a new "constitutionalism of the Global South." However the trend toward enforcement of SER also includes some highly industrialized nations, notably Germany. At the same time parallel developments have occurred at trans-national level with the adoption of treaties which commit signatory states t to respecting and guaranteeing fulfillment of SER for their peoples.

The adoption of these constitutions and instruments guaranteeing SER mean that activists, scholars, and judges are now regularly called upon to address complex and challenging questions ranging from jurisprudential issues to very concrete problems concerning how majestic words on paper can be translated into delivery on the ground of social goods such as housing, education, and medical care. This book has been undertaken as part 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, particularly in the so-called developing nations. 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 particular attention to 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 from both a theoretical and a practical grassroots perspective. The book engages with legal and democratic political theory as well as drawing links between human rights and other discourses such as development theory. It also considers 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.

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About the author (2014)

Helena Alviar Garcia is Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, 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.

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