From time immemorial, Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights have not been accorded the same level of commitment as Civil and Political Rights. This has been due, in part, to the assumption that socio-economic rights are, by nature, different from civil and political rights, warranting differential treatment. Reasons adduced by those who place civil and political rights above socio-economic rights include, but not limited to, resource dependency, non-justiciability, and interpretation of the obligation on States to “progressively” (or “slowly”) realize these rights. Resultantly, socio-economic rights are, oftentimes, relegated or “left behind” by duty bearers who owe the obligation to respect, protect, and fulfil these rights. This is despite the long-established notion of the interconnectedness and indivisibility of these two domains of rights. This article analyzes the “leaving behind” of socio-economic rights, and proposed five approaches to ensuring these rights are accorded their due commitment.
In Nigeria, budgetary allocations to the education sector have consistently fallen short of the UNESCO benchmark of 4 to 6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or 15 to 20% of public expenditure. The current (2022) budget allocation to education is 5.39%, that is N923.79 out of the N17.13 trillion overall budget. This 5.39% allocation is not only a 50% reduction from the 10.79% allocated to education in 2015, it is the lowest allocation to education that Nigeria has had in the last 10 years. The effects of this low investment in education have been dire. For instance, according to UNICEF, Nigeria has at least 18.5 million out-of-school children. Also, the ongoing strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which, at the time of writing has been on since February 14, 2022, is due to, among others, demand for increased funding of Nigerian public universities. This begs the question: how low can we go?
Human rights is the language with which societies communicate what they consider ethical, fair, moral, right, or wrong at a given time. Societies have transformed, colonialism ended, democracy widely adopted, and laws (international, national, and sub-national) have been enacted based on the concept of human rights. Human rights have become the indicators or ‘acceptable benchmarks’ with which to assess, criticize, and demand how duty bearers – state and non-state – should treat members of their societies, especially those most vulnerable to rights violations. It now seems, as evidence show, that once a claim is clothed with the fabric of human rights, there is high likelihood of it being adopted as a principle, norm, or standard on how people should be treated. However, as desirous as this approach is, there is danger in it. In proposing a ‘list of criteria’ for a claim to become a right, Philip Alston warned that the United Nations “will be under considerable pressure to proclaim new human rights without first [giving] adequate consideration to their desirability, viability, scope, or form.” This article provides a deep-dive into the protest approach to promoting human rights. While the first part gives a brief overview of the four theories of human rights (natural, deliberative, discourse, and protest), the second part hones down on the protest approach, particularly their combined or separate confrontational and collaboration tactics of promoting rights. The third part lays out some justifications or relevance of the protest approach.
This paper provides a vigorous and critical examination of the significance and worth of the Maputo Protocol as a regional treaty. In assessing the contradictions between what is apparently promised in the Maputo Protocol and the actual position of rights enjoyed by women in Africa, the paper considers three key indicators, namely: ratifications and reservations, contents and compatibility, and interpretation and enforcement. It posits that achieving the utopian vision of gender-equal African societies is hindered by religious and cultural factors which are antithetical to the texts and aim of the Maputo Protocol.