Promoting and claiming social and economic rights through an inclusive human rights practice

What's New

Canada adopts historic National Housing Strategy Act recognizing housing as a fundamental human right and establishing meaningful accountability, in line with draft legislation we proposed!. Read all about it.

UN Human Rights Committee Issues ground breaking decision in Toussaint v Canada. Canada violated the right to life by denying irregular migrants access to essential healthcare. Read more.

Canada Without Poverty v Canada - Historic Win for Charities


New Publications

Martha Jackman and Bruce Porter (eds)  Advancing Social Rights in Canada (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2014)

Martha Jackman & Bruce Porter "Social and Economic Rights" in P. Oliver, P. Macklem and N. Des Rosiers, The Oxford Handbook of the Canadian Constitution (New York, Oxford Univesity Press, 2017) at pp 843-866.

Elizabeth McIsaac and Bruce Porter "Housing Rights: Ottawa takes an historic step forward"

Bruce Porter

Rethinking Progressive Realization: How Should it be Implemented in Canada?.


Inclusive Interpretations: Social and Economic Rights and the Canadian Charter 


Designing and Enforcing Social Rights Remedies: Reflections on the Canadian Experience

From the Archives

Human Rights and the Right to Housing in Housing - A Right, a publication to coincide with an exhibition at the Power Plant Gallery on homelessness and the right to housing. Now Magazine, Toronto, 1989.

Bill C-400 earlier proposed housing strategy legislation.

1992 Alternative Social Charter 

See Further publications

Advocating for the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR

SRAC is a member of the Steering Committee of a global coalition of NGOs working in the area of economic, social and cultural rights which formed to promote the idea of an optional complaints mechanism under the ICESCR.  A complaints mechanism had existed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights since it came into force in 1976.  The absence of a complaints mechanism for ESC rights represented a longstanding inequality between the two sets of rights in the UN system.  Despite widespread reluctance and skepticism at the outset of this process, the Coalition celebrated an historic success on December 10, 2008 when the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus an Optional Protocol to the ICESCR providing for a complaints mechanism, as well as an inquiries procedure.   SRAC played a key role in the Open Ended Working Group mandated to consider and later to draft the new Optional Protocol. 

The following is the text of the historic OP-ICESCR adopted by the UN General Assembly December 10, 2008

Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural

Justice Now: Ratify to Protect All Human Rights

States that have signed and ratified the OP-ICESCR

One of the key ares of negotiation in the OP-ICESCR related to the standard of review. 

See: Bruce Porter,  The Reasonableness Of Article 8(4 ) – Adjudicating Claims From The Margins,’ Nordic Journal of Human Rights (NJHR), Vol. 27, No.1:2009.

What was at stake in the debates about the OP-ICESCR: Read

The Optional Protocol to the ICESCR - What's at stake?  an earlier article by Bruce Porter of SRAC on the need for a complaints procedure under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Rules of Procedure for the OP-ICESCR

SRAC has assisted the NGO Coalition for the OP-ICESCR in preparing and presenting a paper to the CESCR at its session in November 2009 on important issues to consider in drafting rules of procedure, and describing some of the relevant drafting history.  Bruce Porter of SRAC and Donna Sullivan, who has been working with IWRAW-Asia Pacific on this issue, developed a draft paper for review by members of the NGO Coalition and other experts in 'ESC rights at a meeting in New York on September 24, 2009.  The paper entitled: Considerations of the International NGO Coalition for an OP- ICESCR in relation to the OP-ICESCR and its Rules of Procedure was circulated amongst members of the Coalition and groups with relevant ESCR expertise, and further revised and focused for presentation to the CESCR in Geneva.

Bruce Porter of SRAC represented the Steering Committee of the Coalition in making an oral presentation to the CESCR and presenting the substantive paper outlining developments in international law and drafting history of the OP.  He also chaired a luncheon meeting to which Committee members were invited to discuss issues such as interim measures, friendly settlements, reasonableness, amicus curiae and standing.