Law Publications


Giving Meaning to Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

Document Type


Publication Date



University of Pennsylvania Press

Place of Publication



The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, arguably the founding document of the human rights movement, fully embraces economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights, within its text. However, for most of the fifty years since the Declaration was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the focus of the international community has been on civil and political rights. This focus has slowly shifted over the past two decades. Recent international human rights treaties--such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women--grant equal importance to protecting and advancing nonpolitical rights.

In this collection of essays, Isfahan Merali, Valerie Oosterveld, and a team of human rights scholars and activists call for the reintegration of economic, social, and cultural rights into the human rights agenda. The essays are divided into three sections. First the contributors examine traditional conceptualizations of human rights that made their categorization possible and suggest a more holistic rights framework that would dissolve such boundaries. In the second section they discuss how an integrated approach actually produces a more meaningful analysis of individual economic, social, and cultural rights. Finally, the contributors consider how these rights can be monitored and enforced, identifying ways international human rights agencies, NGOs, and states can promote them in the twenty-first century.


Book available for purchase from the publisher here.

Citation of this paper:

Merali, Isfahan and Valerie Oosterveld. Giving Meaning to Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001.

This document is currently not available here.