Call for Input: UN Poverty Expert’s Research Project on Realizing Economic and Social Rights

Professor Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, released a report in 2016 that set out the Recognition, Institutionalization and Accountability (RIA) Framework for realizing economic and social rights. In that report he observed that economic and social rights are not being adequately realized because, generally speaking:

a)  in spite of a wave of constitutional enshrinement of such rights in the last couple of decades, this is not being backed up with adequate legislative recognition and regulatory frameworks;
b)  there is a lack of appropriate institutional arrangements and internalization of economic and social rights norms to promote and facilitate realization of economic and social rights; and
c)  there is a need for stronger mechanisms beyond reliance on the judicial arm of government to promote accountability for realizing these rights at both the inter- and intra-state level.

He is currently leading a research project which seeks to expand upon the 2016 report by investigating the extent of legislative recognition and institutionalization of economic and social rights globally, and the existence and strength of non-judicial accountability mechanisms at both the international and domestic level.

The Special Rapporteur is seeking input from governments, academics, activists, and international and non-governmental organizations on this topic, whether by way of written submission or conversation with the Special Rapporteur’s staff. The following questions may serve as a guide for input, but all material relevant to the broader topic is welcomed:

  • What has made a difference in your country in promoting the implementation of a specific economic and social right? How important, for example, are constitutional or legislative recognition, clearly focused regulations, strong policy statements, the creation of a specialist agency, or the adoption of non-judicial accountability mechanisms? Are you aware of any evidence to link the relevant initiative to positive outcomes?
  • What domestic institutions have succeeded in implementing, monitoring and advocating for economic and social rights? What contributed to their success? How did they come to work on this topic?
  • What conditions or circumstances have made it difficult to recognize, institutionalize, and hold the government to account in relation to economic and social rights?
  • Are there situations in which legislation on economic and social rights has been drafted but has subsequently failed to be adopted? If so, what were the major obstacles?
  • Have you been involved in efforts to recognize a specific economic or social right, to set up an institution to promote it or to ensure accountability? If so, please describe the experience and results.

The call for input is open until March 29, 2019. Please direct all queries and submissions to Anna Bulman at


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