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 risk. 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.
Economic Rights in Canada and the United States