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What are Economic, Social & Cultural Rights? Dr Liam ThorntonDr Liam Thornton, UCD School of Law & UCD Human Rights NetworkUCD School of LawUCD Human Rights.

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Presentation on theme: "What are Economic, Social & Cultural Rights? Dr Liam ThorntonDr Liam Thornton, UCD School of Law & UCD Human Rights NetworkUCD School of LawUCD Human Rights."— Presentation transcript:

1 What are Economic, Social & Cultural Rights? Dr Liam ThorntonDr Liam Thornton, UCD School of Law & UCD Human Rights NetworkUCD School of LawUCD Human Rights Network

2 Overview 1.Defining Economic, Social and Cultural (ESC) Rights 2.Exploring ESC Rights & Duties 3.Sub-Constitutional Protection of ESC Rights in Irish Law & Practice 4.Systems for Protecting & Adjudicating on ESC Rights

3 1. Defining Economic, Social & Cultural (ESC) Rights

4 Economic Rights

5 Social Rights

6 Cultural Rights

7 The Interdependent Nature of All Rights Economic Rights Social Rights Cultural Rights Civil & Political Rights potentially engaging ESC rights: Right to life, Prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment; right to private and family life; etc.

8 Where do ESC Rights Come From? International Law Obligations under International Law – International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (ICESCR) & other International human rights treaties (Children, Women) European Law Obligations under European Law – EU law i.e. EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – Council of Europe Law (European Social Charter & European Convention on Human Rights) Irish Law Obligations under Irish Law – Constitution – Legislation

9 2. ESC Rights & Duties: International Obligations

10 International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (ICESCR): Duties to Respect, Protect & Fulfil Duty to Respect – No unreasonable limitations on exercising right to work; – No arbitrary eviction of families from a home. Protect Duty to Protect – Protection from exploitative employment practices; – Enabling redress if ESC rights violated Fulfil Duty to Fulfil – State raises awareness of & access to ESC rights – State adopts policies to ensure realisation of ESC rights; – In certain situations, State ensures provision of ESC rights

11 Legal Obligations under ICESCR progressively realise Duty to ‘progressively realise’ ESC rights – State must work as quickly and effectively as possible to meet ESC rights. maximum of available resources To ‘maximum of available resources’ ESC rights under other international treaties Cannot rely on these provisions under other international treaties on rights of children, persons with disabilities, rights of women etc. Exceptionally strong justifications needed to withdraw or diminish pre-exisiting ESC rights. Equality & Non-Discrimination Equality & Non-Discrimination: States may be permitted to distinguish the enjoyment of ESC rights for people if distinctions are reasonable, legitimate and proportionate.

12 3. Sub-Constitutional ESC Rights in Irish Law & Practice 1.This is not a systematic evaluation of the adequacy or inadequacy of the ESC rights protected under Irish Law 2.Mainly focusing on ESC rights that have legislative underpinning

13 Economic Rights Property rights protected – Limitations – Limitations i.e. subject to planning laws! Right to work & minimum conditions of employment – But – But limitations i.e. it is a criminal offence for asylum seekers to enter employment

14 Social Rights social securitysocial assistance Those who have a right to reside in Ireland and are habitually resident can enjoy social security and social assistance payments: carers allowance, child benefit, old age pension, family income supplement etc. Social Rights Other Social Rights: medical cards; housing, including Traveller accommodation; landlord and tenant protections etc.

15 Cultural Rights Support (monetarily or in kind) for museums, cultural events etc. Religious protections Protection of languages, including constitutional recognition of Irish language; Equality legislation & incitement to hatred legislation.

16 4. Systems and Processes for Adjudicating ESC Rights

17 International & European Adjudication Systems for ESC Rights Judicial Judicial – European Court of Human Rights i.e. Airey v Ireland (1979), legal assistance. – Court of Justice of the European Union, M.E v Ireland (2011), socio-economic rights of asylum seekers. Monitoring Monitoring: – UN Committee on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (ICESCR) – European Committee on Social Rights (European Social Charter (Revised))

18 Domestic Adjudicating Systems for ESC Rights The Courts The Courts – Adjudication on right to private and family life under ECHR Act 2003, Courts protected the socio-economic right to shelter in two cases (O’Donnell (2007) & O’Donnell (2008)) Decision Making & Appeals Decision Making & Appeals To what extent are decisions made on the basis of ESC rights protection? – Social Security & Social Assistance Bodies – Employment Rights Bodies – Education – Ombudsman: Ombudsman Office, Ombudsman for Children, Irish Human Rights Commission


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