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Recent years have seen a remarkable expansion in the scale and importance of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESC rights), culminating in the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in December 2008. The Protocol gives individuals and groups the ability to bring complaints about rights violations before the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Against this background, this book focuses on the question of how fundamental socio-economic human rights enshrined in international law are defined, interpreted, understood, and implemented. It assesses how effective efforts to realize ESC rights have been and investigates the contemporary challenges obstructing their protection. It sets out the impact of the global financial crisis and austerity measures, the human rights responsibilities of corporations, and trends in the justiciability of those rights at the national and international level. The interrelationship between ESC rights and other legal regimes such as trade and investment law, environmental law, international criminal law, and international humanitarian law is also thoroughly examined. After an introduction by the editors the book contains seventeen chapters looking at the main questions which shape the progressive realization of ESC rights and their monitoring mechanisms. The authors of the chapters, both scholars and practitioners, adopt interdisciplinary approaches that move beyond traditional analyses of ESC rights. In doing so, they clarify and illuminate multiple aspects of the law by bringing together the different aspects of ESC rights, restating the challenges they face, and assessing the progress that has been made in expanding their adoption.

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