Giving Meaning to Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, arguably the founding
document of the human rights movement, fully embraces economic,
social, and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights,
within its text. However, for most of the fifty years since the
Declaration was adopted by the General Assembly of the United
Nations, the focus of the international community has been on civil
and political rights. This focus has slowly shifted over the past
two decades. Recent international human rights treaties-such as the
Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women-grant
equal importance to protecting and advancing nonpolitical
In this collection of essays, Isfahan Merali, Valerie Oosterveld,
and a team of human rights scholars and activists call for the
reintegration of economic, social, and cultural rights into the
human rights agenda. The essays are divided into three sections.
First the contributors examine traditional conceptualizations of
human rights that made their categorization possible and suggest a
more holistic rights framework that would dissolve such boundaries.
In the second section they discuss how an integrated approach
actually produces a more meaningful analysis of individual
economic, social, and cultural rights. Finally, the contributors
consider how these rights can be monitored and enforced,
identifying ways international human rights agencies, NGOs, and
states can promote them in the twenty-first century.
Subjects: Political Science
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