Socio-economic rights: Theory, justiciability, enforcement

I am one of the leading and most-cited South African scholars on the judicial enforcement of constitutional socio-economic rights. Over the years, my peer reviewed publications in this field have contemplated theoretical dimensions of these rights, analysed judicial interpretative practices and considered the bureaucratic impact of court decisions. My interest in socio-economic rights adjudication has also permeated my work on urban governance.

Some of my best-known work on socio-economic rights is profiled here. Feel free to email me for copies of any of the articles.

Towards a Right to the City? The Slow Convergence of Rights to Housing and Land in South African Constitutional Jurisprudence

(2022) 11(1) International Human Rights Law Review DOI

Traces and considers the implications of the culmination of South African jurisprudence on the rights of access to housing and equitable access to land in the Adonisi decision of the Cape High Court.

Balancing socio-economic rights: Confronting Covid-19 in South Africa’s urban informal settlements

(2021) 39(1) Nordic Journal of Human Rights 33-50 DOI 10.1080/18918131.2021.1918433

Considers the reconciliation of seemingly clashing rights to housing in health in the context of the initial South African state response to Covid-19 in urban informal settlements.

Socio-economic rights adjudication and democratic urban governance: Reassessing the “second wave” jurisprudence of the South African Constitutional Court

(2018) 51(1) Verfassung und Recht in Ubersee 12-34

Considers the socio-economic rights judgments of the South African Constitutional Court within a broader framework of judgments concerning different aspects of democratic participation in urban local government.

Procedural relief, constitutional citizenship and socio-economic rights as legitimate expectations

(2012) 28 South African Journal on Human Rights 359-379

Reflects on the substantive underpinnings of administrative-law sensibilities latent to the South African Constitutional Court’s adjudicative approach to socio-economic rights, as evident from the so-called “second wave” of its socio-economic rights jurisprudence.

Relational socio-economic rights

(2009) 25 South African Journal on Human Rights 198-217

Develops the idea of relational rights with reference to the enactment of socio-economic rights through a variety of contractual and interpersonal relationships, consequently drawing links between the legal regulation of such relationships and the enjoyment of the rights in question.

Eating socio-economic rights: The usefulness of rights-talk in alleviating social hardship revisited

(2007) 50 Human Rights Quarterly 796-822

Revisits the CLS-inspired 1980s debates on the utility of right discourse in achieving social transformation, but in the context of the justiciable socio-economic rights in the 1996 South African Constitution.

Indirect horizontal application of the right to have access to health care services

(2007) 23 South African Journal on Human Rights 157-159

Considers ways of enforcing constitutional socio-economic rights in the private sphere, with a focus on the development of private law pertaining to the delivery of health care services.

The legitimizing / insulating effect of socio-economic rights

(2007) 22 Canadian Journal of Law and Society 1-20

Illustrates how and to what extent justiciable socio-economic rights bolster the legitimacy of state attempts at promoting social citizenship and shield these attempts from rights-based attack.

The potential of socio-economic rights litigation for the achievement of social justice: Considering the example of access to medical care in South African prisons

(2006) 50 Journal of African Law 118-131

Illiustrates how disparate individual judgments on prisoners’ constitutional entitlement to receive medical care have over time accumulated in a remedial framework advancing access to health care services in detention more broadly.

Resuscitating socio-economic rights: Constitutional entitlements to health care services

(2006) 22 South African Journal on Human Rights 473-502

Contemplates ways in which to tangibly vindicate socio-economic rights in the wake of the South African Constitutional Court’s rejection of a “minimum core” approach to their interpretation.

Possibilities and pitfalls in the domestic enforcement of social rights: Contemplating the South African experience

(2004) 26 Human Rights Quarterly 882-905

Reflects critically on the South African Constitutional Court’s interpretative and remedial approaches in its early socio-economic rights decisions.

Coming to terms with judicial enforcement of socio-economic rights

(2004) 20 South African Journal on Human Rights 383-417

Debunks conventional opposition to the adjudication of socio-economic rights and contemplates ways of accommodating socio-economic rights-based judicial review within contemporary understandings of the separation of powers.