Achieving economic and social rights: The challenge of assessing compliance

Briefing papers
December 2008
Edward Anderson and Marta Foresti

Economic, social and cultural rights were formally recognized within international law in 1966, enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). How can government compliance with obligations under the ICESCR be assessed? How in practice can governments be held accountable for such obligations? There are legal challenges in answering these questions. However, there are also empirical challenges: often, evidence is simply not sufficient to monitor government actions effectively. Or not enough attention is paid to the kind of rigorous evidence that is needed to ensure that ES can be implemented in any meaningful way. Social sciences methods, including the application of economic models, can help to take this debate further in a more empirical way.

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