Expansion of the Recognition, Institutionalisation and Accountability Framework for Economic and Social Rights – Research project

29 March 2019
Issued by:
The Special Rapporteur for extreme poverty
To inform the research project on the Recognition, Institutionalisation and Accountability
(RIA) Framework for Economic and Social Rights (ESR)


The Special Rapporteur released a report in 2016 at the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council that set out the Recognition, Institutionalisation and Accountability (RIA) Framework for realising economic and social rights.

These are the three essential components of any potentially effective strategy for promoting economic and social rights as human rights, and programmes that neglect these dimensions are unlikely to be effective.

In that report, he observed that economic and social rights are not being adequately realised because, generally speaking:

  1. this is not being backed up with adequate legislative recognition and regulatory frameworks, in spite of a wave of constitutional enshrinement of such rights in the last couple of decades;
  2. there is a lack of appropriate institutional arrangements and internalisation of economic and social rights norms to promote and facilitate realisation of economic and social rights; and
  3. there is a need for stronger mechanisms beyond reliance on the judicial arm of Government to promote accountability for realising these rights at both the inter- and intra-state level.

The Special Rapporteur concluded the report by noting that the RIA framework is not a magic bullet, nor should it be seen as a substitute for other initiatives in the field, and highlights the need to acknowledge and tackle the deeper reasons for the continuing marginalisation of economic and social rights.

This research project seeks to expand upon the 2016 report by investigating the extent of legislative recognition and institutionalisation of economic and social rights globally, and the existence and strength of non-judicial accountability mechanisms at both the international and domestic level.

Inputs received

The Special Rapporteur requested input from governments, academics, activists, and international and non-governmental organisations on this topic, whether by way of written submission or conversation with the Special Rapporteur's staff. The following questions served as a guide for input, but all additional material relevant to the broader topic were welcomed:

  • What has made a difference in your country in promoting the implementation of a specific economic and social right? How important, for example, are constitutional or legislative recognition, clearly focused regulations, strong policy statements, the creation of a specialist agency, or the adoption of non-judicial accountability mechanisms? Are you aware of any evidence to link the relevant initiative to positive outcomes?
  • What domestic institutions have succeeded in implementing, monitoring and advocating for economic and social rights? What contributed to their success? How did they come to work on this topic?
  • What conditions or circumstances have made it difficult to recognise, institutionalise, and hold the government to account in relation to economic and social rights?
  • Are there situations in which legislation on economic and social rights has been drafted but has subsequently failed to be adopted? If so, what were the major obstacles?
  • Have you been involved in efforts to recognise a specific economic or social right, to set up an institution to promote it or to ensure accountability? If so, please describe the experience and results.