The Story of the TAC Case: The Potential and Limits of Socio-Economic Rights Litigation in South Africa
HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCACY STORIES, Deena R. Hurwitz, Margaret L. Satterthwaite, eds., 2009
30 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2009 Last revised: 7 May 2009
Date Written: January 1, 2009
This paper tells the story of the South African constitutional case of Minister of Health v. Treatment Action Campaign. The case is a celebrated example of successful socio-economic rights litigation because it resulted in a direct order to the government to implement a new health care program - specifically, comprehensive program to prevent mother-to-child-transmission of HIV.
Commentators have noted the unusual strength of the court's order in this case, often attributing it to the fact that TAC was an "easy case." We show that the case was only easy because the Treatment Action Campaign spent years laying the groundwork for its legal success. Moreover, the court's order has largely depended on the Treatment Action Campaign for its implementation, such that its true promise still waits to be redeemed. The story of the TAC case thus exemplifies the importance of social movement organization and mobilization to constitutional litigation and constitutional meaning.
Keywords: human rights, right to health, socio-economic rights, social movements, law, South Africa, HIV/AIDS
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