Select this search icon to access the amnesty.ca search form

Main menu

Making Rights Law

    Making Rights Law

    José Gualinga (Sarayaku president), Mario Melo and Viviana Krsticevic (Sarayaku lawyers) at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Costa Rica, July 2011.

    People’s rights to education, adequate housing, water and sanitation, health and food are violated on a daily basis – particularly if they live in poverty. And too often, people who try to challenge these violations are denied justice.

    Let's say you have been forcibly evicted from your home. Your family is left homeless, but the law in your country offers you no protection and no compensation. What do you do? Who do you turn to?

    You are pregnant, but cannot get the life-saving maternal health care you need without bribing hospital officials, a bribe that you cannot afford to pay. Who can you complain to?

    Across the world, there is an urgent need for greater accountability for violations of economic, social and cultural rights. In many countries, many or all of these rights are not recognized or enforceable by law, leaving people with little hope of remedy. If remedies do exist, and even when they are enforced, they often fail to provide true compensation, or rehabilitation.

    At local and national levels we need to strengthen the enforceability of economic, social and cultural rights. At the international level, we need all countries to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Optional Protocol establishes an international mechanism for redress for those who are unable to seek justice in their own countries. Decisions taken under this new mechanism are likely to influence decisions of national and regional courts around the world.

    Photo: José Gualinga (Sarayaku president), Mario Melo and Viviana Krsticevic (Sarayaku lawyers) at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Costa Rica, July 2011.