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Bringing Socio-Economic Rights Back into the Mainstream

31 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2010  

Colm O'Cinneide

University College London - Faculty of Laws

Date Written: July 27, 2009


Human rights values have an ever-growing impact on contemporary societies. However, socio-economic rights remain the poor cousins of their civil and political counterparts. Recent “revitalization” of the key international socio-economic rights instruments, along with the emergence of new models of constitutional protection of these rights in Latin America, India and South Africa, has generated considerable interest. However, socio-economic rights remain by and large marginal, because of often outdated philosophical assumptions as to their lack of substantive content. This often means that our sophisticated vocabulary of rights is of little use to the homeless or the destitute or other disadvantaged groups. As a first step to combating the marginalisation of socio-economic rights, it is necessary that bodies charged with interpreting and applying socio-economic rights develop a rigorous, rational and coherent jurisprudence, to show that socio-economic rights can be given a substantive and meaningful content.

Keywords: Human Rights, Socio-economic Rights

JEL Classification: K30, K10

Suggested Citation

O'Cinneide, Colm, Bringing Socio-Economic Rights Back into the Mainstream (July 27, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Colm O'Cinneide (Contact Author)

University College London - Faculty of Laws ( email )

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7679 1420 (Phone)

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