The Strategic Litigation Working Group has focused its work on the implementation of specific cases, in order to develop contextualized models that reflect the complexity of long-term, politicized, and dialogical processes of implementation. The Working Group is currently working with cases in Africa, Latin America and Europe.
Our work on implementation
The Strategic Litigation Working Group (SLWG) re-affirmed its commitment to work on implementation issues at ESCR-Net’s Global Strategy Meeting in 2016. The SLWG initially decided to focus on this area in 2008, during ESCR-Net’s General Assembly, holding a global meeting on implementation in Colombia in 2010 and regional, peer learning workshops in Latin America and Africa in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
During the latter meetings, there was a shift in the work on implementation developed by the SLWG from more general discussions to the development of contextualized models of implementation that could capture the actual challenges and complex solutions of usually long-term, politicized processes of implementation. There was also a stronger focus on supporting institutional reform within regional and international human rights bodies towards more effective implementation procedures. The shift has led to projects on institutional reform, which have been developed in direct conversations with such bodies as well as through the development of cases.
Since 2013, three situations have been the focus of the SLWG: the Endorois case (litigated by MRG, CEMIRIDE, and EWC before the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights), Sawhoyamaxa community case (litigated by Tierraviva before the Inter-American System), and the cases on the right to housing in Spain (litigated before the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).
To have more information on regional cases discussed in the regional workshops, please go to report for the Latin American Workshop 2013 and report for the African Workshop 2012. For more information on the international cases, please look at the SLWG interventions regarding Communication n. 2/2014 and Communication n. 5/2015.
The SLWG’s work on implementation has also grown to encompass direct projects with the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN Human Rights Committee, and the Inter-American System on Human Rights. In 2017, the SLWG published a discussion paper with recommendations directed at the UN Treaty Body System, regarding more effective implementation procedures.
The CESCR cases
In September, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) issued historic recommendations, finding Spain in violation of the right to housing, in the first case decided under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR). On 20 June 2017, the UN Committee on ESCR issued a ruling, recognizing tenants’ right to adequate housing. The SLWG has intervened in both cases, strengthening the practice of third party interventions before the CESCR and highlighting issues that were in great part considered by the CESCR in its final recommendations. For more information on the implementation work on those cases, please click here.
The Endorois case
In the 1970s, the Kenyan government evicted hundreds of Endorois families from their land around the Lake Bogoria area in the Rift Valley to create a game reserve for tourism.
Assisted by ESCR-Net member, MRG, the Endorois took the case to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) and the Commission ruled in 2010 that the Kenyan government had violated the Endorois' rights to religious practice, to property, to culture, to the free disposition of natural resources, and to development, under the African Charter. For information on the work conducted by the SLWG on this case, please click here.
The Sawhoyamaxa case
The Sawhoyamaxa Community has historically lived in the Paraguayan Chaco, but was evicted from its traditional lands in the 1990s. On May 15th, 2001, ESCR-Net Member, Tierraviva, submitted a petition to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. In March 2006, the Inter-American Court (IACHR) found violations to various rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights: the rights to fair trial, to judicial protection, to property, to life, and to recognition as a person before the law.
Tierraviva has led the implementation process on this case since 2006. The SLWG got engaged in 2013. For information on the work conducted by the SLWG on this case, please click here.