A Few Random Thoughts About Socio-Economic "Rights" in the United States in Light of the 2008 Financial Meltdown

Taunya Lovell Banks, University of Maryland School of Law

Document Type Article

This article is based on a speech prepared for the International Law Conference Reflecting on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, held at the University of Maryland School of Law, October 23-25, 2008.


Socio-economic rights, first articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) sixty years ago, are regaining currency. Legal practitioners around the world, emboldened by emerging constitutional democracies in Eastern Europe and South Africa that constitutionalized socio-economic rights, are actively seeking to enforce these rights. The UDHR “reaffirim[ed] faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person,” and served as the basis for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Among those rights included in the Covenant are housing, food, and healthcare.