Using Structural Interdicts and the South African Human Rights Commission to Achieve Judicial Enforcement of Economic and Social Rights in South Africa
In 1996, South Africa’s transformative Constitution inspired human rights activists worldwide by incorporating justiciable economic and social rights (ESRs), including rights to housing, health care, food, water, social security, and basic education. Yet over the past twelve years, problems related to separation of powers considerations, vagueness concerns, and enforcement costs have impeded the South African judiciary’s efforts to enforce these crucial rights meaningfully. After surveying these obstacles, this Note offers a two-step proposal for change: increased use of the structural interdict remedy and an enhanced, collaborative role for the South African Human Rights Commission. Used in tandem, these measures can improve judicial enforcement of ESRs in South Africa—and perhaps set a concrete example for the rest of the world.