The Death of Socio-Economic Rights
Modern Law Review, Vol. 74, No. 4, p. 532, 2011
23 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2011 Last revised: 4 Oct 2014
Date Written: July 4, 2011
Over the last decade, apex courts in Canada, India, and South Africa – which have traditionally been viewed as socio-economic rights friendly – have issued judgments fundamentally at variance with the meaningful protection of socio-economic rights. This jurisprudential turn can be understood as part of a de facto harmonisation of constitutional rights protection in the era of neo-liberal globalisation. These national courts, although dealing with idiosyncratic domestic constitutional systems, have nonetheless begun to articulate analogous conceptions of fundamental rights which are atomistic, ‘market friendly’ and, more broadly, congruent with the narrow neo-liberal conception of rights, and consequently antithetical to the protection of socio-economic rights. This view of rights is becoming, well established as the hegemonic view and the pre-eminence of this view, taken with the entrenchment of neo-liberal policy prescriptions – and tacit judicial approval of such policies – signals the end, in substantive terms, for the prospect of meaningful protection of socio-economic rights.
Keywords: socio-economic rights, comparative constitutionalism, neo-liberalism, globalisation
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