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

What's New

Nell Toussaint Responds to Canada re access to health care for irregular migrants. Gets support from Amnesty International and ESCR-Net

Joint Submissions of SRAC with ESCR-Net and Global Initiaitve for ESC Rights for Human Rights Committee Discussion of New General Comment 36 on the Right to Life

Joint Report from SRAC, ESCR-Net and CCPI for Periodic Review of Canada focusing on Access to Justice for Migrants and Homeless in Canada

Migrants' Access to Healthcare: Petition to tUN Human Rights Committee. Nell Toussaint v Canada HRC No 2348-2014 to be considered on merits. See Response to Canada's Submissions on Admissibility

Application for Leave to Appeal to Supreme Court of Canada denied in Tanudjaja (Homeless peoples' rights to life, security and equality) Affidavit of Bruce Porter
All other documents

Charter Committee on Poverty Issues jointly with the Canadian Health Coalition and ESCR-Net jointly with Amnesty International apply to Intervene in Refugee Health Care Case at Federal Court of Appeal. See CCPI-CHC Written Representations and ESCR-Net/AI Written Submissions

New Book. Martha Jackman & Bruce Porter (eds)  Advancing Social Rights in Canada now published and available at Irwin Law.

SRAC-CCPI Make Submission to CESCR on Right to Effective Remedies in Canada.

SRAC presents at OHCHR Side Event on ESC rights of Migrants in an Irregular Situation

Amicus Brief Filed by ESCR-Net in Detroit Water Cut-off Case. Press Release

Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Leilani Farha presents Thematic Report to UN General Assembly.

Advancing Strategic Litigation of ESCR under the OP-ICESCR. Read More on Strategic Litigation Initiative

OP-ICESCR gets more ratifications

See the ESCR Case Law Database

and the Toolkit for Action for the OP-ICESR

Book 1 Book 2 Book 3 Book 4

CCPI and CWP file Motion to intervene at Supreme Court on Discrimination because of Povwerty/Social Condition.

Supreme Court Denies Leave in Challenge to Refusal to Waive Fees for Poor People

Toussaint v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Application for Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada


Rights-Based National Housing and Anti-Poverty strategies

Bill C-400 model housing strategy legislation defeated by the Conservative majority.

Strategies to Address Homelessness and Poverty in Canada: the Constitutional Framework

 International Human Rights and Strategies to Address Homelessness and Poverty in Canada: Making the Connection

 

Check out

Social Rights Ontario


New Publications

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

Helena Alviar García, Karl Klare and Lucy Williams (eds), Social and Economic Rights in Theory and Practice: Critical Inquiries (London and New York: Routledge, 2015)


 Bruce Porter, Inclusive Interpretations: Social Rights and Judicial Accountability 

From the Archives

Bruce Porter, 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.

See Further publications

International Education and Advocacy

Strategic Litigation and the Caselaw Database

SRAC is a partner in the research and development of an important Caselaw Database sponsored by ESCR-Net, the international Network on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  The database includes critical jurisprudence, cases, background material, case pleadings and secondary literature on social rights cases from around the world. 

Bruce Porter is co-chair of the International Strategic Litigation Initiative developing important test case litigation in social rights around the world, with a focus on countries that have ratified the OP-ICESCR.

SRAC joined the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and de Justicia work with Susie Talbot at ESCR-Net.org to prepar an amicus brief and a motion to the District Court, Eastern Michigan in the case of Lyda et al. v. Detroit.

See the

ESCR-Net Amicus Brief

Appellants' Brief

Decision of Bankruptcy Court (Under Appeal)

Press Release

For more information on the Detroit Right to Water Case go here.

 

SRAC co-ordinated the intervention of ESCR-Net in the right to housing challenge in Canada, jointly with Amnesty International.

Written Submission (Factum) of ESCR-Net and Amnesty International in Tanudjaja v Canada

SRAC is a member of the Steering Committee of the NGO Coalition for the OP-ICESCR, promoting ratification of the OP-ICESCR and ensuring that the vision of access to justice for social rights claimants is realized.

 

Reclaiming the Vision of the OP-ICESCR (July 2014)

Remarks by Bruce Porter at the United Nations Celebrating the Entry Into Force of the OP-ICESCR on May 8, 2013

Address to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva Switzerland, in Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights   (November 5, 2008)

Presentation to Expert Seminar, Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Counter-Terrorism (November 6, 2008)

Presentation for General Discussion on Draft General Comment on Right to Non-Discrimination, November 17, 2008 Geneva 

Presentation to US Human Rights Network Planning Meeting on Human Rights at Home: A Domestic Blueprint for for the Administration (New York City, November 14, 2008)

Other International Initiatives

·         Keynote Address at Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, “Getting the Bill Right: An Update” 2nd and 3rd July 2008 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

·         Social and Economic Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Paper presented to the International Conference on Social and Economic Rights: Models of Enforcement, hosted by the Irish Human Rights Commission, Dublin, Ireland, December 10-11, 2005).

·         "The Justiciability of Social and Economic Rights: an Updated Appraisal" Paper presented to the Human Rights Consortium of Northern Ireland, Belfast, Ireland, November 20, 2005), with Aoife Nolan and Malcolm Langford.

·         "The Right to be Heard: What's at Stake?" Paper Presented to the High Level Expert Seminar on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (French Department of Foreign Affairs, Nantes, France September 5 & 7, 2005).

·      The Right to Housing in Canada.  Presentation to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission Special Hearings on the Right to Housing, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2005).

·         Keynote Address at Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, “Getting the Bill Right: An Update” 2nd and 3rd July 2008 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

·        Social and Economic Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Paper presented to the International Conference on Social and Economic Rights: Models of Enforcement, hosted by the Irish Human Rights Commission, Dublin, Ireland, December 10-11, 2005).

·       Presentation to Judges and Lawyers from Japan, China, Korea and Mongolia, judicial training hosted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Commission of Jurists, Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia, January 26-28, 2004.,

·      The Right to Housing in Canada.  Presentation to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission Special Hearings on the Right to Housing, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2005).

·       ·       Presentation to Judges and Lawyers from Japan, China, Korea and Mongolia, judicial training hosted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Commission of Jurists, Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia, January 26-28, 2004.,

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

SRAC is a member of the Steering Committee of the NGO Coalition for an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) , 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

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is currently considering its rules and procedures for adjudicating petitions under the ICESCR.  It will be critically important for the CESCR to ensure that individuals and groups most affected by ESC rights violations have access to the communications procedure, and that the Committee has access to the information and expertise necessary.  It will be important, for example, to ensure that the Committee may benefit from third party or amicus submissions.

The Committee is currently considering its Rules of Procedure under the Optional Protocol.

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 t 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.

SRAC is looking forward to continue working with the NGO coalition to contribute to the process of adoption of the rules at upcoming meetings of the CESCR. 

 

The Universal Periodic Review Process at the UN Human Rights Council - The Case of Canada

SRAC and CERA co-ordinated an NGO steering committee which organized engagement sessions between federal and provincial representatives and civil society organizations in Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver.  A separate consultation was organized by the Government of Quebec in Montreal.  Concerns and issues raised by NGO's across Canada were summarized in  

SRAC organized a joing submission from NGOs across Canada addressing the "Implementation Gap" - the gap between Canada's international commitments and their effective implementation in domestic law and policy. 

See Bruce Porter "In Defence of Soft Remedies (Sometimes): Enforcement of Systemic

PROMISE AND REALITY: CANADA’S INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS IMPLEMENTATION GAP: Joint NGO Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council  

LES PROMESSES ET LA RÉALITÉ : LE CANADA NÉGLIGE SES ENGAGEMENTS ENVERS LES DROITS DE LA PERSONNE Requête collective d’ONG au conseil des Nations Unies

Ckucj here to access all NGO submissions for Canada's UPR. 

On social rights and poverty issues, see in particular the submissions of

CCD - Council of Canadians with Disabilities

CCPI - Charter Committee on Poverty Issues

Citizens for Public Justice

FAFIA - Feminist Alliance for International Action

Independent Living Canada

WHEN - Women's Housing Equality Network

British Columbia UPR Coalition

KAIROS

Mouvement d’éducation populaire et d’action communautaire du Québec

Wellesley Institute

Follow-up on Implementation of UPR

Letter to Prime Minister Harper from Steering Committee February 23, 2009

Article by Bruce Porter and Leilani Farha "Reaffirming Canada's Commitments to International Human Rights" in Poverty and Parliament Spring, 2009 (Canada Without Poverty)

Leilani Farha, Alex Neve et al  Submissions to Senate Sub-Committee on Human Rights March 30, 2009

Bruce Porter, Submissions to Senate Sub-Committee on Human Rights  April 20, 2009

Bruce Porter Presentation to the House of Commons Committee on Human Resources and the Status of Disabled Persons (HUMA) April 22, 2009

 

UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies Reviews of Canada

SRAC plays an active role in promoting the use of both international and domestic human rights in Canada. SRAC helped to co-ordinate Canadian NGOs and others participating in reviews of Canada by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other UN Human Rights Treaties.  See the Compilation of NGO Submissions  (Compilation des sommaires des soumissions des ONG) canadiennes

See all documents with respect to the Review of Canada in May, 2006.  In particular, see in  particular submissions from

Charter Committee on Poverty Issues

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action and National Association of Women and the Law

Poverty and Human Rights Center

Inter-American Commission

See also SRACs Presentation to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Right to Adequate Housing in Canada.