The 2012 Intensive Course on the Justiciability of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The annual Intensive Course on the Justiciability of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights took place at Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland, from 12 to 16 November 2012. The course afforded participants the opportunity to seriously engage with several fundamental issues associated with the justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs) at the domestic, regional or international level. During the course of the week, the seminars provided participants with different approaches and perspectives to some of the conceptual issues common to the judicial enforcement of ESCRs. These included the justifications, obstacles and responses to the role of the courts in interpreting and enforcing ESCRs; different models of review and the review of resource allocation decisions; the application of ESCRs to non-state actors; and remedies for violations of ESCRs.

The comprehensive scope of the course provided for a stimulating range of discussions on traditional theoretical and practical considerations regarding both international and regional mechanisms – as well as key domestic examples – for the judicial enforcement of ESCRs. However, the course also introduced emerging topics concerning the development of jurisprudential trends in ESCRs and the impact of globalisation on the litigation of ESCRs. Furthermore, this extensive programme drew on a wealth of prime academic material and diverse jurisprudence in order to analyse and critique existing institutional practices and approaches to the interpretation and implementation of ESCRs. It also benefitted from the knowledge and insight of an experienced panel of academics and practitioners who presented lectures and facilitated the seminars during the course. The panel consisted of Sandra Liebenberg (Stellenbosch University, South Africa), Sisay Alemahu Yeshnawe (Finland), Catarina Krause (Finland), Tara Melish (United States of America), Colm O’Cinneide (United Kingdom), Ananda Mohan Bhattarai (Nepal), Cézar Rodríguez-Garavito (Colombia) and Malcolm Langford (Norway).

The course was conducted in English and consisted of a mixture of lectures, seminars, parallel sessions (which provided an opportunity to present academic papers for comment or to participate in a litigation surgery), as well as group assignments, a moot court exercise and an optional written exam.

The 2012 course was not only an academic, administrative and logistical success, but also received a record number of applications and boasted 38 diverse participants from around the world. Many of the participants who attended the course are advanced masters students or PhD candidates in law, although the group also included judges, professors, lectures, legal advisors and practitioners, policy and human rights officers, researchers, programme coordinators and members of government. The countries represented at the course included Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, Uganda, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. The experienced, yet cosmopolitan nature of the group ensured that all of the course events, both formal and informal, reflected a variety of dialogues and opinions on different spheres of interest regarding ESCRs.

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