Equality and Socio-Economic Rights: International Law in Context (completed)

1. Background

The realisation of economic, social and cultural rights is both hampered and characterised by high levels of inequality in most countries in the world. While non-discrimination and equality constitute a dominant theme in international human rights law, the intersection of equality and socio-economic rights has been partly limited in UN practice. The same could be said of national practice, where the presence of anti-discrimination provisions in constitutions and laws has been limited in the social arena or the full equality dimensions of social rights have gone unexplored.

A key challenge remains in understanding how legal obligations concerning socio-economic rights and equality should be understood in international human rights and what lessons can be drawn from comparative practice  and social science research.

Some of the key questions are whether our conception of equality and non-discrimination obligations need to change in the light of economic, social and cultural rights? What is the exact relationship between formal and substantive understandings of equality, particularly in the context of limited resources? Are the traditional grounds of prohibited non-discrimination are relevant or should different approaches be taken?

Are social rights ultimately concerned with reaching non-comparative thresholds or also involve reduction of disparities? Which policies and remedial systems are most effective, particularly when addressing structural and systemic discrimination?

This project emerged from an earlier international conference and has been supplemented by additional papers.

2. Selected draft papers:

Traditions of Equality, International Law and Socio-Economic Rights
Matthew Craven, SOAS, University of London

Taking Equality Seriously: Human Rights and Priority Setting in Health
Alicia Yamin, Harvard University and Ole Frithjof Norheim, University of Bergen

Affirmation Action and Social Rights in Comparative Perspective
Ockert Dupper, University of Stellenbosch

Systemic Discrimination and Regulatory Choices in the Labour Market
Ronald Craig, Senior Advisor, Equality Ombudsperson, Norway

Accessing Socio-Economic Rights - Persons with Disabilities
Janet Lord and Michael Stein, Harvard Disability Project

Sexual Orientation and the Right to be Different in the Social Sphere
Pierre de Vos, University of Western Cape, South Africa

Published Sep. 6, 2013 3:14 PM - Last modified Apr. 1, 2016 1:55 PM