Readers in Western developed countries are most familiar with
abuses of political and civil rights, but the international human
rights regime also embraces a set of laws regarding economic
rights. These rights include the right to work and to just and
favorable working conditions; the right to join and form trade
unions; the right to social security; specific rights for the
family; the right to an adequate standard of living, including
food, clothing, housing, and "the continuous improvement of living
conditions"; and the right to "the highest attainable standard of
physical and mental health."
In original essays by scholars senior and junior, this volume
explains how these rights are realized-or violated-in Canada and
the United States. Contributors analyze the philosophy, law, and
politics of economic rights and discuss specific issues such as
poverty, health care, and the rights of people with disabilities.
Central to the problems of both countries are the human rights
abuses evident in all contemporary capitalist societies. When the
inequalities among citizens are not cushioned by a national
commitment to economic rights, or when governments fail to maintain
social safety nets for all citizens, economic rights are at
Contributors consider the problem from the perspective of their own
countries: Canada, the United States, and, for contrast, the
Netherlands. They do so in order to explore whether their own
countries fall short of meeting international standards of economic
rights. They also address the criticism often made by non-Western
scholars of human rights-that their Western colleagues preach human
rights abroad without regard to the human rights flaws at home.
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