Entitlements as Legally-Enforceable Human Rights

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at http://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/5472.htm)

The law can be used to enforce any of a wide range of rights, as indicated in those Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which have a legal aspect (Appendix 1, articles 2-20).  Even publicly-funded socio-economic rights, such as education, healthcare, pensions and welfare benefits, can be enforced by law; there are several examples of countries where this has been introduced.[1]

It is a contentious use of the law, because it takes away government flexibility on the national budget (but other judicial decisions also have financial consequences).  Most countries allow the government of the day to set socio-economic rights in accordance with economic and political pressures (6.7.1).  Budgets also have to be approved by the legislature in America, but this is mostly done on an annual basis so they don’t have the enduring nature of most legislation (5.1.2).

When socio-economic rights are embodied in enduring legislation, or are enshrined in the Constitution, they can be enforced through judicial reviews, legal injunctions, or the use of human rights as a basis for civil actions.



[1] There are many examples of cases on the International Network for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (ESCR) website at http://www.escr-net.org/caselaw/ which contains a database of jurisprudence, cases and other decisions related to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  This was available in May 2018.