The Strategic Litigation Working Group works collectively to support effective implementation of human rights cases, primarily through institutional development, the sharing and development of strategic implementation practices, and collective action with affected communities on specific cases.
The Strategic Litigation Working Group (SLWG) recognizes that effective implementation of human rights decisions is as important as securing a successful case outcome. However, in every region of the world, states are often unable or unwilling to comply with decisions in practice. The SLWG shares implementation experiences and explores structural and contextual reasons for non-compliance. We take targeted action to support communities, lawyers, other advocates and decision-making bodies to adopt and advance effective implementation practices. This collective action focuses on:
- engaging with courts and decision-making bodies: SLWG members meet with human rights decision-makers at the regional and international levels in order to understand how they consider cases and follow up on their decisions, and encourage them to adopt working methods that support effective implementation
- sharing experiences and successful implementation strategies: SLWG members collect and share information about implementation experience and strategies through ongoing discussion, case studies on specific cases and caselaw summaries (see the ‘enforcement’ section of each summary found on our caselaw database)
- collective support to specific cases: SLWG members work collectively to strengthen the effective implementation of specific cases using strategic approaches and experience from different parts of the world
The SLWG’s focus on implementation began at ESCR-Net’s 2008 General Assembly and evolved through a global meeting on implementation held in Colombia in 2010. These initial strategy discussions were followed by regional peer-learning workshops held in Latin America and Africa, and regular ongoing discussions. In late 2016, members met at the ESCR-Net Global Strategy Meeting in Argentina and agreed to target current action on strengthening and expanding participation in follow-up procedures of UN and regional treaty bodies.
For further background information, please see:
- Africa Regional Social Rights Litigation Workshop (South Africa, 2012) and related workshop report
- Latin America Strategic Workshop on Enforcement of Positive Decisions on ESCR (Colombia, 2013) and related workshop report
- Social Rights Judgments and the Politics of Compliance (2017), edited by Malcolm Langford, César Rodríguez-Garavito and Julieta Rossi, and featuring contributions from many ESCR-Net members
Our current implementation activity
Engaging with decision-makers: encouraging institutional practices that support effective implementation
Through ongoing dialogue, briefings and collective submissions, SLWG members share case implementation experience from around the world and make recommendations about the ways in which human rights decision-makers at the regional and international levels consider cases and follow up on their decisions. Recent ways in which the SLWG has sought to encourage the adoption of working methods that support effective implementation include:
- SLWG’s 2017 Key Proposals regarding the Follow-up on Views Issued by UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies (discussed at a joint briefing to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Human Rights Committee, and followed by CESCR’s subsequent release of its working methods concerning the Committee’s follow-up to Views under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)
- SLWG’s 2017 strategic discussions and 2018 engagement with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and related 2018 Implementation of Decisions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights discussion paper
Taking a strategic approach to implementation: ESCR-Net case studies
In certain circumstances, SLWG members work collectively on specific cases to support implementation in practice. This activity provides a greater understanding of the opportunities, challenges and complexities associated with often long-term, politicized processes of implementation. Such experience is shared with other advocates and informs ongoing dialogue with decision-makers. For information about collective action on specific cases, see case studies on the implementation of:
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