Strategic Litigation on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Working Group on Strategic Litigation is currently engaged in the following projects: Strategic Litigation per se, Enforcement of ESCR Judgments, Caselaw Database, and Networking for Support.

Strategic Litigation Initiative

The Strategic Litigation Initiative (SLI) of the Working Group aims to provide a more systemic approach to supporting strategic litigation by providing a structured space for collective action and facilitation of linkages, support and collaboration.

The objectives of the SLI are to:

  • Help build momentum for ESC rights litigation that is directed toward eventual complaints under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR) and potentially other UN treaty bodies.
  • Support litigation on ESC rights before national, regional and international courts and quasi-judicial bodies, including through advice, collaboration, research and amicus interventions.
  • Provide national and transnational spaces for organizations, advocates and stakeholders to consider, plan and reflect on strategic litigation and develop strategies to implement decisions.

To date we have held capacity-building trainings on ESC rights litigation under OP-ICESCR in Argentina, Bosnia, China, Mexico, Mongolia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain and Uruguay.

Enforcement of ESCR Judgments

In the last two decades, there has been a remarkable rise in the numbers of ESC rights’ judgments in all regions. However, in many jurisdictions there are a few or, in some cases, many judgments that remain unimplemented. While some of these cases have resulted in broader and indirect impact despite non-implementation, the lack of enforcement poses not only an issue for the victims affected but also consequences for those who promote the relevance and impact of human rights law as a useful framework for ensuring economic and social justice.  ESCR-Net is focused on both analyzing and strategizing around the factors which influence enforcement, as well as advocacy to compel action and implementation on cases without full compliance.

Caselaw Database

The ESCR-Net Caselaw Database is a collaborative project developed under the leadership of the Steering Committee Members, our Academic partners, and many groups and individuals working to advance economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) throughout the world. The Caselaw database makes ESCR-related pleadings, commentary and decisions available to a wide audience of ESCR activists and defenders from a range of countries, legal traditions and languages (Spanish and English). In doing so, it serves to facilitate the exchange of information and strategies.

Networking to Support Legal Recognition and Implementation of ESC Rights

ESCR-Net plays a critical role in linking groups across regions and languages on issues of adjudication of ESC rights to share knowledge, build solidarity, and increase the network for collective support and litigation. The Strategic Litigation Working Group aims to increase the capacity and participation of member organizations engaged in litigating ESC rights cases to ensure strong arguments are presented and good jurisprudence is established. 

Please be in touch with Daniela Ikawa, if your organization is involved in litigation of ESC rights at: dikawa[a]