Ireland and the European Committee on Social Rights

ESCThere has been much focus on the role of the European Court of Human Rights over the last number of days (see, here and here). A less well known body, the European Committee on Social Rights, is responsible for assessing Ireland’s compliance with the European Social Charter (Revised). The European Social Charter protects a number of social and economic rights, such as employment rights, right to health care, social security, an adequate standard of living etc. Ireland has freely accepted to abide by a large number of obligations (but not all) under the European Social Charter. As my summary of the Committee’s conclusions below show, this report is somewhat of a mixed bag. It is important to note that the  Committee on Social Rights examined Ireland’s compliance with the European Social Charter from 2008 to 2011, so a number of important issues that arose since 2011 are not considered, including the attacks on youth right to full rate unemployment benefit/assistance; maternity benefit cuts; the cumulative impact of successive regressive budgets on those who are already poor and marginalised. In addition, it was somewhat disappointing that the Committee did not mention or consider the social and economic rights of asylum seekers (as it has done in collective complaints).

The European Committee on Social Rights has released its Conclusions on Ireland for 2013 on a number of different rights protected by the European Social Charter, including:

Ireland and the European Committee on Social Rights

The European Convention on Human Rights at 60 & Socio-Economic Rights

ECHR at 60Today marks the 60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights (EC HR) coming into force. Ireland was one of the original signatories of the ECHR in 1950, and one of the first states parties to recognise the jurisdiction of the (now overburdened) European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The history of the Convention, the Court and the cases and principles of law that have been developed and decided upon  have been well covered in a number of significant texts (see here, herehere, here and here).

In June 2013, UCD Human Rights Network hosted a conference, organised by Suzanne Egan, Judy Walsh and I, on The ECHR and Ireland: 60 Years and BeyondMy paper ” Seasca Bhlian Faoi Bláth (60 Years A-Growing): Socio-Economic Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights” examined the emergence and development of the ECHR as a protector  of social and economic rights. While the ECHR is generally seen as protecting civil and political rights, with the exception of property rights, in the last number of decades a soft consensus is emerging from the ECtHR that such a distinction between both sets of rights is not warranted. The first significant suggestion that the Convention may be able to protect, to some degree, socio-economic rights, was made by the ECtHR in Airey v Ireland (for a background to this case, see here). Ireland stated that Airey was seeking to enforce a socio-economic right to legal aid and the ECHR should not be interpreted Continue reading “The European Convention on Human Rights at 60 & Socio-Economic Rights”

The European Convention on Human Rights at 60 & Socio-Economic Rights

World Day of Social Justice and Ireland

Today marks the UN World Day of Social Justice. A society built on social justice is a society that not only values equality and diversity, but also puts economic and social frameworks in place for the achievement of social justice for all, regardless of race, creed, disability, sexuality, gender, political opinion, gender identity ethnicity, class and the myriad of other ways that we as human beings view and distinguish each other. Social justice is closely linked with economic justice, and as Ban Ki -moon has stated in his message for World Day of Social Justice,

Growing inequality undermines the international community’s progress in lifting millions out of poverty and building a more just world. The fault lines are visible in falling wages for women and young people and limited access to education, health services and decent jobs.

This week in Ireland we were reminded how socially unjust past actions, such as slavery, confinement and discrimination on the basis of class and gender can blight individuals full potential in later life. An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny gave a heartfelt apology to the Magdalene women. The Magdalene women fought to be heard for many decades of the plight they faced at the hands of religious institutions, directly and indirectly, assisted by the people of Ireland (see, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, herehere and here for simply a sampling on the issues regarding Magdalene Laundries that have previously been discussed on this blog).

From past (and continuing) wrongs to present social justice concerns, the recession Continue reading “World Day of Social Justice and Ireland”

World Day of Social Justice and Ireland