A Research handbook on economic, social and cultural rights as human rights which was recently published is co-edited by SERI board members Jackie Dugard and Lilian Chenwi. The Research Handbook "offers an authoritative analysis of standards and jurisprudence" and "ultimately argues that "a robust, reinforced approach and practice is needed to meet the human rights challenges of the 2020s".
"Contested and marginalized in legal research, the field of economic, social and cultural rights has experienced a bloom in scholarly attention over the past ten years. With contributions by leading scholars and practitioners, this Research Handbook represents an up-to-date and in-depth analysis of the most salient mechanisms, doctrines and cross-cutting issues in the field. It constitutes an indispensable resource for policy-makers, scholars and advocates interested in the contribution of human rights to the eradication of poverty and inequality."
– Professor Sandra Liebenberg, HF Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa and Vice President, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Part I of the Handbook includes a chapter on 'The international human rights system' by Jackie Dugard which provides a historical and contextual evolution of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) and the protection mechanisms provided by the various key international legal instruments and institutions. The chapter on 'The African system' by Lilian Chenwi provides an analysis of the existing human rights framework of ESCR by considering the various regional legal instruments and institutions that make up the African human rights system, relative to their mechanisms of enforcement.
Part II of the Handbook on the content of the different rights includes a chapter on 'The right to adequate housing' written by Stuart Wilson which considers the right to adequate housing in international law and includes analysis of key areas of contestation which illustrate how the right has been developed and applied in some domestic contexts including the South African context. In it, Wilson argues that,
"when concrete social struggles have reached international, regional and domestic adjudicative bodies, especially but not exclusively in South Africa, the right to adequate housing has found its greatest traction in challenges to existing property rights. It is in struggles over the upgrading of informal settlements, the eviction of illegal occupiers, the rights of residential tenants in urban areas, the rights of mortgagors and the struggles of women to access housing through, and despite, patriarchal accounts of property law, that the right to adequate housing has sharpened its teeth."
Wilson goes on to write that,
"Given the scale of housing need internationally, and given also that so much economic inequality expresses itself in skewed distributions of land, housing and property, there can be little doubt that meeting the scope and providing the content of the right to adequate housing implies a substantial revision of existing property relationships in a wide variety of contexts. It also implies a substantial redistribution of land, property and, ultimately, wealth. The right to adequate housing is, in many respects, a manifesto for a just and equal society."