Social Rights Adjudication (completed)

An Interdisciplinary Perspective

About the Project

Social rights adjudication has shifted from the realm of the speculative to the province of practice. Accompanying the general expansion of judicial review, jurisprudence on these rights has emerged to varying degrees in all regions of the world. The phenomenon has given further fuel to demands from advocates, scholars and UN bodies for a more widespread and robust practice of social rights adjudication.

Despite the burgeoning prominence of courts and international bodies, scepticism is not in short supply. Criticism ranges from concerns over the institutional competence and democratic legitimacy of adjudicators through to worries over the equity and social impact of judicial outcomes. In the case of social rights, there is the additional and somewhat antediluvian question of justiciability and the more substantial challenge of judicial engagement with issues of resources and policy trade-offs.

The intersection of these two currents, practice and critique, represents the departure point for this thesis. Within a largely global perspective, it asks: Can social rights adjudication be justified and under what conditions? In doing so, it poses three types of sub-questions: What is normative and legal basis for social rights adjudication? When and how is adjudication superior to other institutional modes of rights interpretation and enforcement? What is the likelihood that acceptable modes of social rights adjudication will emerge in practice? 

The project adopts a interdisciplinary approach by drawing on political and legal theory, comparative legal jurisprudence and political science as well as sociology and economics. Empirically, it engages with existing caselaw and empirical findings and contributes new primary research.





  • Provide a grounded normative perspective that is applicable to ongoing debates in politics, law and theory.
  • Fulfil requirements for the Ph.D. degree in law at the University of Oslo.


  • Book
  • Earlier publication of some material

Project period



Faculty of Law, University of Oslo – PhD Fellowship
Ford Foundation – Book Project: Making it Stick: Compliance with Social Rights Judgments in Comparative Perspective
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Book Project: Socio-Economic Rights in South Africa: Symbols or Substance

Published Feb. 12, 2010 5:28 PM - Last modified Apr. 15, 2016 8:27 AM