Faculty of Law

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This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Quota applies

Postgraduate programs are based on a model of small group teaching and therefore class sizes need to be restricted.


Not offered in 2016


For postgraduate Law discontinuation dates, please see http://www.monash.edu/law/current-students/postgraduate/pg-jd-discontinuation-dates
For postgraduate Law unit timetables, please see http://law.monash.edu.au/current-students/course-unit-information/timetables/postgraduate/index.html
Previously coded as LAW7318


This course provides an overview of economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights, both in international human rights law and in a comparative law. It will examine both the theoretical debates raised by the emergence of ESC rights, and the practical issues confronting monitoring bodies and advocates. The course is divided in three parts. First, it will explore the origins of ESC rights and how they have been approached by competing theories about the relationships between the State and the market. Second, it will discuss the status of ESC rights and corresponding State obligations. The right to adequate food shall serve as the main illustration, but other rights, such as the right to education and the right to housing, shall also be discussed. The existence of obligations across boundaries regarding ESC rights (eg duties owed by rich States to the people of poor States) will also be discussed. Third, it will examine the monitoring of ESC rights, both at national level and through regional or international courts of quasi-judicial bodies. Particular attention will be paid to the question of the justiciability of ESC rights, and to the various theories that have been forward to assess the content of the obligation of "progressive realization" of ESC rights, and the role of indicators and benchmarks in such an assessment.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  • apply knowledge and understanding of the theories, history, politics and practice of ESC rights as part of international human rights law;
  • investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories in relation to the role of domestic courts and other national actors in monitoring ESC rights at the State level;
  • conduct research into the tools that regional organisations and the United Nations have developed to monitor ESC rights based on knowledge of appropriate research principle and methods; and
  • use cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate at an abstract level complex ideas and concepts relevant to the role ESC rights play in the debates concerning the North-South divide and the duties of international development and cooperation of the rich States towards the poorer States.


One or two presentations during the course (preparation of a case or of a doctrinal study, depending on numbers) and class participation: 20%
One essay (6,000 words): 80%

Workload requirements

24 contact hours per semester (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements)

Chief examiner(s)


Please note that the prerequisite subject can be waived in consultation with the Chief Examiner (please contact sarah.joseph@monash.edu as the CE is an international visitor).
For example, the subject may be waived if the candidate has gained sufficient knowledge through prior learning or experience, or a clear willingness to do adequate reading in advance of this subject.