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  • Series: Research Handbooks in International Law series x
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Aristoteles Constantinides

The chapter presents an overview of the fragmented international legal framework on the social rights of minorities. For the most part, there is no mention of minorities in social rights instruments and no mention of social rights in minority rights instruments. The legal framework mainly consists of nondiscrimination provisions in universal and regional human rights instruments whose relevance to minorities is made plain in the practice of the respective monitoring bodies. Yet, the interaction of various international actors (political organs, courts, expert bodies, NGOs) has considerably improved the legal landscape, particularly in Europe, by specifying relevant state obligations. Social rights of minorities have been made justiciable in various ways in various international judicial and quasijudicial fora. The case law exemplifies the interdependence of human rights but also illustrates the structural discrimination and social vulnerability of minorities, which prevents their equal access to social services and their effective participation in social life.

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Laura C Pautassi

The chapter aims at analyzing the process by which social rights are monitored through human rights indicators, with a special focus on the Inter-American level. The Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the area of Economic Social and Cultural Rights (Protocol of San Salvador) provides a pioneer mechanism that includes quantitative and qualitative indicators which make it possible to measure the degree of state compliance with their obligations as regards social rights. Indeed, indicators have already been included in several state reports which, in addition to verifying compliance, allows to advance in terms of global accountability. After a brief glimpse at the universal level, the chapter focuses on the methodology behind the human rights indicators of use, their definition and construction and then discusses the body that monitors social rights, as well as its methodology. Finally, the chapter focuses on challenges in the use of indicators.

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Andreas Th Müller

The chapter looks at the respective contributions made by national parliaments, governments and administrative authorities, courts and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the implementation and enforcement of social rights. The analysis reveals that there exists a huge variety of actors, processes and strategies in this regard. In order to effectively bring home social rights, a multidimensional approach is of the essence, including legislative, administrative, judicial, but also financial, social and educational measures. Beyond the legal realm in the strict sense, crucial factors are the existence of a human rights and law enforcement culture; political will on the part of government and political, economic and cultural elites; the existence of a civil society; the dissemination and integration of social rights into school and university curricula; and the integration of social rights into the regulations and institutional culture of police, penitentiaries and health and social services.

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Daniela Ikawa

This chapter analyzes the role of NGOs and social movements in the promotion of social rights in at least two ways: by fighting for the protection of social rights as a means of sustaining the struggle for human rights more generally, and by channelling voices of vulnerable groups in the framing of new human rights content. NGOs and social movements have in this way contributed for the adoption of a human rights framework that can be truly universal.

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Yota Negishi

The procedural approach to international law has emerged as a solution with the potential to fill a normative gap created by the future-oriented nature of modern public international law. This chapter substantiates the tendency of proceduralization that is visible in connection not only with civil and political rights, but even more obviously present with economic, social and cultural rights. A threefold analysis is developed in relation to the procedural protection of social rights: information, justice and remedies. The three elements are closely intertwined in that the victims of social rights violations face barriers to effective access to remedies given the difficulty of obtaining information and evidence to substantiate their judicial actions. In this chapter, the trinitarian procedural formula of social rights is examined in terms of four points: rights (corrective and distributive justice), persons (nondiscrimination and vulnerability), obligations (negative and positive) and implementation (subsidiarity and solidarity).

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Abby Kendrick and Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky

This chapter argues that despite the emergence of gender equality as a key policy concern over recent decades, a consistent gender perspective in the making of macroeconomic policy appears lacking which, in turn, has resulted in a diminution of women’s social and economic rights. We must, therefore, look beyond standard economic models to think more holistically about the impacts of economic reform policies on women’s social and economic rights. Using feminist economic theory as a starting point, the chapter offers insight into the channels through which structural reform policies, in particular austerity, affect women’s rights, giving rise to the ‘triple jeopardy’ that sees women suffer at once (often accumulatively) as public sector workers, service users and the main recipients of social security. It is further argued that a human rights and feminist economics approach can help expose this and be a guide to alternative legal solutions that are inclusive and advance equality and human rights.

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Judith Schönsteiner

The chapter discusses business responsibilities regarding social rights under international law. It first assesses international binding state obligations regarding the duty to protect against business violations of social rights, and analyzes the extraterritorial reach of such obligations. Second, the chapter evaluates the few national laws and legislative initiatives that address such responsibilities, with a view to identifying the challenges of implementation in domestic law. Third, it summarizes nonbinding international human and social rights standards for business such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and considers whether direct business responsibilities in international law would be a response to the domestic implementation challenges. Finally, it showcases examples of voluntary private initiatives in the banking sector that pursue enhanced business responsibility to respect social rights.

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Kolawole Olaniyan

Despite the obvious relationship between corruption and social rights, corruption is still treated mostly as a criminal and law enforcement issue both in anticorruption instruments and in literature. This chapter argues that corruption is indeed a violation of human rights, including social rights, showing that there are some benefits in expanding the legal instruments in the fight against corruption beyond the traditional criminal law enforcement approach to include recognizing corruption for what it is: a grave human rights violation. The chapter considers whether there is a universal definition of corruption. It then provides an overview of the legal frameworks against corruption, before turning to examine the nature of social rights and the issue of implications of corruption for social rights as well as the potential of these rights in preventing and combating corruption. A short conclusion follows.

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Elise Dermine

Activation reforms in the welfare state are the main concrete answer articulated by industrialized countries over the last two decades to combat longterm unemployment. This chapter examines how the international bodies responsible for the adjudication of social rights frame the development of national activation measures. Empirical findings then support and feed theoretical insights into current and broader debates on the role that can be played by international human rights bodies in reshaping national welfare states. Rejecting the legitimacy, as well as the effectiveness, of a defensive approach to human rights – that ties states to past political choices – we suggest instead a practical theory of adjudication that tends to reconnect human rights and politics, in order to ensure a democratic and rights-based transformation of national welfare states.

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Amrei Müller

This chapter gives an overview of how fundamental socioeconomic human interests that are protected as social human rights in international and regional human rights treaties and through prohibitions and proactive duties under international humanitarian law (IHL) are safeguarded in times of armed conflict and in postconflict situations. It first elaborates on the relationship between social human rights and IHL, a relationship that can be structured with the help of the lex specialis maxim. Second, it shows, by way of two examples, how social rights and IHL can contribute to upholding lifesaving conditions of conflict-affected populations in ongoing armed conflicts: by reducing to a minimum the permissible destruction of civilian infrastructure essential for the enjoyment of social rights during active hostilities, and by securing access to health care. Last but not least, the chapter highlights how social rights and general human rights principles can contribute to peacebuilding and reconstruction processes in postconflict settings.