All human rights are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. This is a foundational principle in international human rights law. It means that civil and political rights, such as the right to life, equality before the law, and the right to a fair trial as well as economic, social, and cultural (ESC) rights, such as the rights to adequate housing, food, water, sanitation, health care, and education, are equally important and necessary to ensure the full realisation of all human rights.

Despite the legal obligations to ensure ESC rights, these are often ignored or neglected by powerful actors. Few constitutions recognise ESC rights. For those whose ESC rights are violated, they often lack access to justice, accountability, and remedies.

The lack of accountability and remedies for violations, including systemic violations, of ESC rights leave individuals and communities at risk of further violation.

Litigation and legal advocacy play an important role in protecting an individual’s or a community’s existing social and economic entitlements. It is an effective tool to prevent, halt or remedy violations of ESC rights.

Strategic litigation and legal advocacy can ensure protection of rights for claimants, as well as create beneficial jurisprudence of ESC rights at various levels which has far-reaching structural impacts.

Strategic litigation and legal advocacy are critical in catalysing and intervening in legal cases, and for empowering local actors to undertake action on their own behalf.

Our Approach

We strive to advance new frontiers in ESC rights and to continue to ensure that these rights are legally enforced. This requires strength, coherence, and continued relevance of the international human rights framework and the accountability of actors that violate human rights.

Legal advocacy is critical in catalysing and intervening in legal cases, and for empowering local actors to undertake action on their own behalf. We use strategic litigation and legal advocacy to move the justiciability of ESC rights from theory to practice.

We engage in, and support human rights lawyering at national, regional, and international levels, to build a body of progressive jurisprudence that protects ESC rights in practice and informs those rights from the perspective of marginalised communities.

We work with grassroots individuals, groups and communities, as well as lawyers and other human rights advocates, to develop tools and resources that enable them to claim and enforce rights through legal advocacy.

We hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable, and achieve remedies for victims and survivors of violations.

Our legal advocacy focuses on structural and transformative change by demonstrating the justiciability of ESC rights. This includes establishing broad public-interest and systemic remedies, expanding the scope of human rights protections and mechanisms, and furthering the accountability of the human rights-based approach.

GI-ESCR is a member of the ESCR-Net Strategic Litigation Group and serves on its Steering Committee.