Prof Sandra Liebenberg appointed to serve on UN Committee

The Faculty of Law, University of Stellenbosch is proud to announce the election of Professor Sandra Liebenberg to serve on the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In a single round of secret balloting, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) elected Sandra Liebenberg and the Egyptian candidate Mohamed Ezzeldin Abdel-Moneim as candidates representing the African States on the Committee. The other candidates were Marc France Eddy Balancy of Mauritius and Mohamed Ould Lagdaf Ould Boya of Mauritania.

Prof Sandra Liebenberg, HF Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law and Distinguished Professor was nominated by the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in recognition of her “extensive experience in human rights law, particularly in the area of economic, social and cultural rights”. Professor Liebenberg will commence her term on the 1st of January 2017.

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is an organ of ECOSOC. It is composed of 18 independent experts, persons of high moral character with recognised competence in the field of human rights and more particularly in the field of economic, social and cultural rights. Members are elected for a term of four years by ECOSOC member states. Committee members serve in their personal capacity and may be re-elected, if nominated, for an additional 4-year term. In accordance with ECOSOC Resolution 1985/17, in regard to the composition of the Committee, due consideration must be given to equitable geographical distribution and to the representation of different forms of social and legal systems.

The mandate of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Since the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, several United Nations mechanisms for enforcing and protecting economic, social, and cultural rights have emerged. One of the most important international mechanisms for defending and promoting economic, social, and cultural rights is the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights whose mandate is to specifically monitor state parties’ fulfillment of their obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Articles 16 and 17 of the ICESCR require states to prepare reports every five years on the situation of economic, social, and cultural rights in their country, which are reviewed by the Committee. It examines the extent to which economic, social, and cultural rights are being achieved by state parties, serves as a base for formulating policies that promote economic, social, and cultural rights via General Comments, and allows the public to learn about the work of their government concerning the achievement of these rights. The Committee reviews five or six reports every year. If a country fails to report, the Committee may review the situation in that country using alternative sources. After examining a country’s report and other sources, it releases concluding observations which highlight the progress made in fulfilling the relevant rights, difficulties in achieving these rights, areas of concern, and recommendations. The Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights furthermore reviews complaints by or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals with regard to state parties that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR. Currently 164 states have ratified the ICESCR and 21 states have ratified the Optional Protocol. South African signed the ICESCR in 1994 and acceded to the treaty in 2015. South Africa has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol.

More about Prof Liebenberg.

Prof Liebenberg is academic co-director of the Faculty’s post-graduate Socio-economic Rights and Administrative Justice Research Project (SERAJ). She is one of a handful of recipients of the degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of the Witwatersrand conferred on 18 July 2011. Prof Liebenberg was promoted to Distinguished Professor in 2015.

She previously served as a member of the Technical Committee advising the Constitutional Assembly on the Bill of Rights in the 1996 Constitution of South Africa.

In 1997, she founded and directed the Socio-Economic Rights Project based at the Community Law Centre (University of the Western Cape) where she was involved in research, advocacy and supporting litigation in the area of socio-economic rights. In this capacity she was involved in the Centre’s amicus curiae interventions in the groundbreaking cases of Government of South Africa v Grootboom and Minister of Health and Others v Treatment Action Campaign and Others.

Since taking up her current position at Stellenbosch University, she has acted as expert advisor and assisted in drafting heads of argument and amici submissions for various NGOs involved in a range of significant socio-economic rights cases.

She serves on the editorial board of the South African Journal on Human Rights, the African Human Rights Law Journal, the Human Rights Law Journal and Speculum Juris. She is also Chairperson of the Board of the NGO, SERI (Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa) and a member of the Advisory Board of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC).

Professor Liebenberg has published widely in the field of socio-economic rights, and is the author of the book entitled Socio-Economic Rights: Adjudication under a Transformative Constitution (2010, Juta & Co).


Sorry, comments are closed for this post.