The book Poverty and Fundamental Rights (Oxford University Press, 2007) by Prof David Bilchitz, the Director of the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (SAIFAC), a leading South African research centre within the Faculty of Law at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), has been translated into Spanish.
The book addresses the pressing issue of developing a rights-based approach to addressing severe poverty and inequality, and asks why is it that violations of socio-economic rights are treated with less urgency than violations of civil and political rights, such as the right to freedom of speech or to vote?
“The book aims to understand the underlying justification for socio-economic rights which include, importantly, the right to food, housing and health-care. The book argues for a particular view of how these rights should be given effect to in law: the model that is developed requires placing greater urgency of the survival needs of individuals whilst all the time making plans for a higher level of provision. This ‘minimum core’ doctrine stands in stark contrast to the approach adopted by the South African Constitutional Court which is vague and fails to offer poor people a clear understanding of what they may claim in terms of this rights. The book ends by considering, in a comparative context, the policy implications of the minimum core approach defended therein,” says Prof Bilchitz.
The book has received much attention in the legal academic community and has been published in Spanish by the publisher Marcial Pons which makes it accessible in Latin America and Spain. Indeed, some courts in Latin America such as the Colombian Constitutional Court are already leaders in providing concrete content and consequences to socio-economic rights which broadly give effect to a minimum core approach. There have been very few cases in South Africa in comparison and, in a context of large-scale inequality, it could benefit from a close engagement with these jurisdictions.
Poverty and Fundamental Rights was translated by Prof Jorge Portocarrero Quispe, an adviser to the Constitutional Court of Peru.