Using human rights in the courts to broaden social protection – the South African example

AHRCentre Visiting Fellow Beth Goldblatt writes: Human rights have an important role to play in supporting the objectives of social protection which include the prevention of poverty and inequality, ensuring solidarity and inclusion, and creating economically and socially fairer societies. They offer a normative basis and a legal imperative for requiring that states realize the right to social security for their people. They also expect richer countries to assist those that are poorer in meeting their social security obligations. Human rights require the evaluation of policy compliance, they inform policy and legislative development, provide individuals and groups with an elucidation of their rights and provide the basis for legal and advocacy challenges where rights are violated. Human rights have, in many instances, been used effectively at the international and domestic level to push states to improve social protection programmes. While human rights challenges should be understood as merely one component of broader strategies to bring about change, their utility should not be underestimated where they are effectively employed.

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