Institute of International and European Law

Current research projects


Unpacking Economic and Social Rights: International and Comparative Dimensions



A research project of the Institute of International and European Law of the Georg-August-University of Goettingen and the Faculty of Law and Department of International Relations of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Economic and Social Human Rights have widely been treated with reluctance and scepticism since their formal advent in the second half of the twentieth century. However, processes of globalization and the ongoing economic distress and social protest in the aftermath of 2008's financial crisis have brought the complexity of realizing social rights and social justice firmly to the forefront of the legal and political agenda.
Our research project examines Economic and Social Rights from a comparative perspective, looking at German, Israeli and European legal systems and their respective constitutional, legislative and jurisprudential experiences, as well as the universal human rights framework under the auspices of the United Nations.
We seek to examine the various approaches towards Economic and Social Rights by analysing the relevant domestic and international case law as well as legislative norms and related legal scholarship in order to close this gap and achieve a more pluralistic theoretical basis. We assume the legal and methodological understanding of Economic and Social Rights to be in need of further examination This project is meant to analyse different approaches and their legal trends to develop a framework for their mutual relations, their potential and their limits in three complementary ways: a comprehensive comparative approach to economic and social rights, the role of equality in these rights, and their political economy. Along with these issues the project aspires to examine the role of the judiciary in the implementation of Economic and Social Rights. Expanding the scope of certain Economic and Social Rights might be costly and therefore restrain the legislature's budgetary power. This tension between the imposition of legal obligations and democratic decision-making leads to questions about the range of the legitimacy of Economic and Social Rights and the role of courts in their enforcement.

We are pleased to announce that the joint research project of the Institute of International and European Law of the University of Göttingen and the Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law will be holding a conference 9 - 10 November 2018 in Göttingen, Germany under the title “Unpacking Economic and Social Rights: International and Comparative Dimensions”.

We would like to thank the Fritz Thyssen Foundation for a generous research grant for this project.