What are Economic and Social Rights

Center of Concern | Sun, Mar 29, 1998

By Mariama Williams

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirmed the essential dignity and integrity of human beings. It recognized human beings entitlement to the means necessary to promote and protect human dignity. It also recognized the crucial and inextricable intertwinement between civil and political rights and access to resources and opportunities to utilize human capabilities for the self-realization necessary to assure and maintain personhood. This seeming comprehensiveness made the International Bill of Human Rights appear to be a radically progressive ideology which could simultaneously serve as both a set of fundamental values governing the human condition; a tool for critical consciousness raising about power structures; and a path to empowerment for much of humanity. However, as it would turn out this was not the case.

This paper was first published as: Williams, Mariama "What are Economic and Social Rights?" Women's conomic and Social Rights, Brussels: WIDE , February 1998.