ESCR in National Constitutions



Economic, social and cultural rights are also recognized in national constitutions.

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights was signed and proclaimed in 2000 as the first formal document to bring together all the fundamental economic, social, civil and political rights of Europeans. All EU institutions and bodies must observe the principles of the EU Charter. Economic, social and cultural rights can be found in the following articles of the Charter.


Article 3: Right to Physical Integrity of the Person

Article 5: Prohibition of Slavery and Forced Labour

Article 14: Right to Education

Article 15: Freedom to choose an occupation and right to engage in work

Article 17: Right to property

Article 22: Cultural, religious and linguistic diversity

Article 28: Right of collective bargaining and action

Article 31: Fair and just working conditions

Article 34: Social security and social assistance

Article 35: Health care

Article 37: Environmental Protection


The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, adopted on 8 May 1996, created out of the struggle against apartheid, is one of the world's most progressive in regards to economic, social and cultural rights. ESCR are enshrined in the following sections of


Chapter 2 of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights:

Section 22: Freedom of trade, occupation and profession

Section 23: Labour relations

Section 24: Environment

Section 25: Property

Section 26: Housing

Section 27: Health care, food, water and social security

Section 29: Education

Section 30: Language and culture

Section 31: Cultural, religious and linguistic communities


The Constitution of Brazil dedicates an entire chapter to social rights. Chapter II of the Constitution enshrines the rights to education, health, work, leisure, security, social security, and assistance to the destitute.


Further readings:

Pieterse, Marius."Possibilities and Pitfalls in the Domestic Enforcement of Social Rights: Contemplating the South African Experience" Human Rights Quarterly, Volume 26, Number 4, November 2004