Book Brief: The State of Economic and Social Human Rights: A Global Overview

Ed. Lanse Minkler
Cambridge University Press (Jan 2013)
ISBN 9781107609136
408 pages

In The State of Economic and Social Human Rights, Minkler draws on the insight of scholars in economics, law, sociology, anthropology, and political science to provide insight on core economic and social human rights. He aims to explore the “obstacles that prevent governments from fulfilling their obligations” by looking at the performance of countries throughout the world.

The chapters span a wide range of economic and social rights topics, identifying core rights, nondiscrimination rights issues, and a new category of “meta” rights. The right to health is included as a core right. In this chapter, authors Audrey Chapman and Salil Benegal explain the effects of globalization and subsequent development and realization of the right to health. They point to international documents such as the UDHR and CESCR that enumerate such a right, and analyze the health trends, impact on health systems, and social health determinants that are all impacted by globalization. The book’s conclusion critiques social and economic rights and their possible conflicts, but also explains how such criticism can be resisted.

The neoliberal structure of globalization and reform has contributed to a very different landscape for understanding economic and social rights. The book’s authors emphasize the importance of considering the growing number of actors and agents. While there may also be an inevitable conflict among human rights, such disputes are resolvable. Minkler concludes that human rights should not be considered different from “other fundamental moral and political values,” and that international human rights law and the international community must work to realize these rights.